chicken pate
Creative Commons License photo credit: stu_spivack

Recession Cuisine: The Sacred Liver

by Stephanie Small, Boda Blog

“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.” – Barack Obama, 1/22/09

Fear is in the air and funds are short. In tough economic times, it’s best to pull inward, hunker down, and get to some serious grounding. And what’s more grounding than a hearty home-cooked meal? Food’s one of the easiest areas in which to scale back spending, with the added benefit that the simplest meals are often the most satiating (maybe that’s why, when you eat at that Noveau Japanese-Cajun-Antarctican fusion joint you always leave hungry…). And if you reach back to traditional societies, you’ll find easy, inexpensive recipes that are packed with nutrition.


Every native culture has sacred foods that are fed to children and pregnant women. This food is chosen for its superior nutritional value – people who are growing, and people who are growing other people, require a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals in order to perpetuate a strong, vibrant, healthy species. Well, guess what. Very often the sacred food is liver. It’s fallen out of fashion, but even as recently as 50 years ago liver was a weekly staple in many homes. It’s sad that we now focus on the animal’s muscle as our protein source – it’s not anywhere near as nutritious as the organs. But it’s certainly good for those of us who still choose to nourish our bodies with this potent substance: a pound of organic livers will often cost you less than $4. Talk about getting a ton of bang for your buck. If we are trying to maximize nutrition and taste while minimizing dollars, look no further.

High Wire Ranch Elk

High Wire Ranch Elk

On Valentine’s Day I prepared pate using elk liver from High Wire Ranch. The animals are fed a diet entirely of grass and hay, with no antibiotics and no hormones. Talk about old-school and the way things should be. For some of Saturday’s diners, including a vegan recently fallen from grace, it was their first experience feasting on this delicious and nutritious organ.

Now, if you are new to liver as well, you are probably recoiling in disgust and imagining a nasty, floppy, sloppy thing. Well, I am happy to say this pate wasn’t one of the more “livery” ones I’ve produced. The seasoning, onion, and olive oil merged to offer a creamy, tender, spicy flavor. The former vegan had an interesting experience watching me cook. Initially repulsed by the blood, which I told her was a cranberry marinade, she then switched gears and decided to sample a bite of liver raw, as she had watched Sundancers do. It had the consistency of a crisp melon.

Liver is nature’s most concentrated source of Vitamin A and contains all the B vitamins in abundance. Many of us tend to be deficient in both. It’s also one of our best sources of folic acid, iron and copper. And on Sunday we experienced another of liver’s legendary benefits: the anti-fatigue factor. We were all shocked by the fact that despite drinking to excess and sleeping 4 hours the night before we were all actually able to function relatively well.

“But doesn’t the liver store the toxins?” you might ask. The liver neutralizes toxins; it does not store them. Toxins are more likely to be lodged in the fatty tissues and nervous system. But the liver DOES store a host of vitamins and minerals, all of which you are able to access by eating it. As always, please select liver with as many adjectives as possible (grass finished, free range, antibiotic free, organic…). It’s best to pass on the conventional. And because liver is so powerful, a 4oz serving once or twice per week is sufficient.

I credit my friend and colleague Lisa Lawson for introducing me to the joys of pate with this simple recipe.

Lisa’s Luscious Liver Pate

1 pound liver, as free range and grass fed as possible, cut into pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
sea salt and pepper
1 bunch parsley
butter, coconut oil, olive oil, or organic lard
seasonings of your choice: try an Italian blend…herbes de Provence…rosemary, garlic, thyme, sage…
1. Sautee onion in oil until translucent (5 min). Remove and place in blender.
2. Add more oil to the pan and add liver.
3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasonings.
4. Cook on both sides. Inside should still be pink (few minutes on both sides).
5. Add liver AND JUICES FROM PAN to blender. If the cooking hasn’t yielded much juice, add a splash of water.
6. Blend.
7. Taste. It shouldn’t taste overly “livery”. If it does, add more seasonings.
8. Eat on its own or with crackers, tortilla, celery, carrot…
9. Prepare for bionic strength!

Stephanie Small is a volunteer chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Boulder, Colorado. Her website is www.threesistersnutrition.com. Her blog is Boda blog.

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This post is part of the Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival. See more delightful delectables on KellytheKitchenKop.com.

Pâté