Recently my doctor told me that my iron count is low, and that it was time to do something about it. She said that I could either take iron pills, which have the unpleasant side effect of making one “stopped up,” or I could start eating liver. Being an adventurous eater, I chose the latter.
There are many iron-rich foods, including leafy greens, beans, and shellfish, but liver is in a class by itself. Eating a 3.5-ounce portion (that’s less than half a cup, or a little less than 1/4-pound) gives you 70 percent of the necessary iron intake for one day. For women, who are a lot more at risk of iron deficiency than men, this is good news.
At my pricey neighborhood butcher shop, that sells only locally raised, hormone-free meat, I noticed that the cost of chicken liver is only $2.50 per pound. That’s much less than the other meats. I guess it’s because it’s not very popular, but it sure is affordable! I asked my butcher for advice on how to prepare it, and he said that garlic and cumin work wonders with liver.
I bought my 1/4-pound of liver and tried not to look at it too closely. I whipped up a marinade of minced garlic, ground cumin, and olive oil, tossed the liver in this delicious smelling concoction along with a dash of salt, and stuck it in the refrigerator to soak up flavor overnight.
The next day, I seared it in a hot pan in a little canola oil, for just a few minutes on each side. You don’t want to overcook liver or the texture can turn tough. It should still be a little pink on the inside when you finish cooking. I tucked the liver into flatbread, seasoned it with salt and pepper and drenched it in lemon juice, and stuffed the little sandwich with fresh herbs. Notice how I tried hard to disguise the flavor and texture? Well, it worked! Actually it was really tasty, and I can’t wait to eat it again. I think I’m well on my way to upping my iron level.
Pan Seared Chicken Liver with Cumin and Garlic
Article continues below...
Makes 1-2 servings
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
- 1/4 lb liver
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 bunch fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or cilantro, washed and stemmed
- 1 lemon, quartered
- Salt and pepper
Mince the garlic with 1 teaspoon salt. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the garlic with the cumin, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the liver and stir to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
Heat a skillet over high heat, and brush lightly with canola oil. Place the liver in the hot skillet, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the outside is lightly browned but the meat is pink on the inside.
Tear off a piece of bread and stuff it with fresh herbs. Place a couple of pieces of warm liver on the herbs, and squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with more salt and pepper. Fold and eat.