Sometimes it is important for me to address one of my food prejudices directly. You know what I’m talking about–those ingrained assumptions about what foods you like and dislike, or perhaps the one preparation that makes an otherwise disagreeable food acceptable. For example, when I was a kid, I thought I could only eat raw carrots, and that all cooked carrots were mushy and gross and too sweet. I have come a very long way in my relationship with carrots by periodically challenging those assumptions.
This past week, I challenged two of my many food prejudices with meals that both surprised and delighted me. The first prejudice was that, for me, ham and beans only works in soup or baked beans. This thought was not a life-or-death opinion so much as a habit, so it was an easy one to break. The recipe I chose (adapted from this one) was not only an incredibly delicious meal, but a fast one that will likely go into our regular dinner rotation: Eden cannellini beans simply cooked with onions, broth and chunks of Black Forest ham, seasoned with thyme and a small sprinkle of sucanat. I served it with creamed baby greens and plantain drop biscuits, which were delicious in their own right.
The second food prejudice I addressed this week was a much stickier wicket, as it were: First, that the flavor and texture of liver is gross and inedible; and second, that the only possible way of familiarizing myself to liver is through the comforting medium of gluten, as in pâté on crackers, chopped liver on toast, or a sauce on pasta. I know I am not alone in these assumptions, and even though academically I also know that liver is an incredibly nutrient-dense superfood, these issues have made it very difficult for me to come up with potential applications for integrating liver into my diet. Fortunately, this week I found at least one recipe that puts a big crack in all my liver prejudices.
When I originally started working on eating more liver, part of my problem was that I dove right in with beef liver, which apparently has a much stronger flavor than chicken livers. At least that is one issue that was easy to address! Chicken livers are readily available and inexpensive–just be sure to choose the highest quality you can, preferably pastured. Then, some online exploration suggested that curry spices might be a good mask for the inherent mineral-y flavor of liver, and a velvety sauce might be a good mode of minimizing any textural issues. Put all of that together, and you get chicken liver curry with peas and onions, served over rice.
My recipe was a hodgepodge of several, essentially a fragrant spiced gravy enriched with cream. It admirably served its purpose of making chicken livers palatable for me, and I was very impressed to find that not only did Jeremy and the baby gobble it down, but even my super-picky six-year-old ate about a tablespoon of liver plus some sauce and peas, all mixed into his serving of rice!
I am still not sure where my relationship with liver will go next, but at least I have one strong option under my belt for now! Perhaps crispy chicken livers over a wilted spinach and bacon salad, or an omelet with mushrooms…
What are your food prejudices?
Chicken Liver Curry
12 oz chicken livers
1/4 C grassfed butter or ghee
1/2 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 T sweet curry powder (homemade or store-bought), or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
1 T sweet rice flour
1/2 C heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
1/2 C sweet peas, frozen
Clean and quarter the chicken livers, cutting away the connecting tissue between the lobes.
Melt 2 T butter in a large skillet and saute the onion and garlic with curry powder until soft and fragrant. Transfer to a blender with the chicken broth, salt, and rice flour. Cover and blend on high for 6 seconds only, until blended but still somewhat chunky.
Meanwhile, melt last 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet, and saute livers over medium heat for about 7 minutes. Pour the broth mixture over the chicken livers, stirring continuously while bringing it to a boil. Finally, stir in the peas, cream, and pepper to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice or quinoa.
I took the liberty of grinding my own sweet curry blend from predominantly whole spices, but you could use a storebought blend or individual pre-ground spices just as easily. Mostly I just wanted to play with my new stone mortar!
My custom sweet curry blend: 1 T coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1/8 tsp clove powder (or 3 whole cloves), 1 tsp dried turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ea mustard powder (or whole seeds), cinnamon (or stick cinnamon), and black pepper.
Source: Freely adapted from Food.com