It’s been said that liver is a dish that you either love or hate. I’m generally of the former camp, but have to admit that chicken liver hasn’t been a favorite of mine…in the past. Proper cooking and the unique terroir of our pastured chicken means that liver is now a eagerly-anticipated meal around here!
While we’re processing our birds, I like to examine the organs – they provide an internal view of the health of our pastured birds. The livers we harvested from this group of cockerels (typically around 5-6 months old) were normally-colored and free of blemishes: healthy livers. Frankly, if I discovered a discolored or spotty liver, I would likely discard it. Fortunately, all were clean…as expected.
The most challenging part of harvesting the livers during processing is being able to get the gallbladder out of the abdominal cavity without damaging it. The gallbladder is a small organ that is pretty much embedded between the lobes of the liver, and it ruptures fairly easily. Why is this a big deal? Because this tiny sac is full of bitter-tasting green bile, which I want to avoid having spill onto the liver. I’ve found that using a sharp scalpel and carefully excising the liver works well for getting the gallbladder out in one piece. In the case of a spill, thoroughly washing the bile off usually prevents it from tainting the flavor of the liver.
The gallbladder-less livers, rinsed, simply join melted butter and onions sautéing in a hot pan. I like them seared, cooking them only for a few minutes on each side; overcooking the livers can cause them to become tough and pasty.
Several perfectly-cooked livers accompanied by caramelized onions, perhaps with a side of cauliflower mash, mashed potatoes, or steamed fresh broccoli, make a satisfying meal.
This is liver worth coveting – not mushy pate. And it’s a nutritional powerhouse, full of protein and nutrients. What’s not to like?