Liver and Kale

The luxury of planning a menu and picking foods to fill a fridge with, is perhaps only appreciated after months of shared kitchens or no kitchen at all. I am excited to get back to blogging and to share recipes and photographs of food. I also am excited to learn about the food traditions of Appalachia, and to make use of new and exciting ingredients here.
In a recent post I mentioned that organ meats are readily available at most grocery stores in the South. If you haven’t already begun incorporating offal into your diet, liver is an amazing way to pack iron, vitamin A, and many other vitamins and minerals into meals. My favorite seasoning combination for liver is nutmeg and white pepper. It lends an almost breakfast sausage aroma and flavor, without making the liver too rich.
Kale is a well known brassica with a variety of different expressions- lacinato is flat and easier to clean, curly kale is popular with hippies and juicers all over , and Russian kale, which finds itself comfortably between the two in texture, is beautiful and maybe a little less common in most grocery stores. Kale is considered by some to be the closest brassica to the pre domesticated cabbage. It too has plenty of vitamin A, as well as folate, vitamin c and vitamin k.
There is something so satisfying about fried chicken livers- they are rustic but adventurous, nutritious but cheap. They have tradition and gastronomic history behind them though they have fallen out of common consumption. Today’s palate generally tries to hide chicken liver in a pate’ or sausage or gravy, avoiding the weird texture and smell. One who relishes them enjoys good health with his culinary outsider status.
This recipe is one of my favorite comfort meals, and is full of vivifying nutrition for days when you may be feeling depleted. It cooks up fast and tastes like Gramma made it. Sometimes I also make it by omitting the kale, and serving it with a side of red cabbage and lacto fermented pickles.

Ingredients for 1 portion

1 tbsp butter
½ onion, sliced
2-3 large mushrooms, sliced
3-4 shakes of ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp white pepper
2-4 chicken livers, sliced into long strips
1-2 cups of chopped Kale
Salt to taste

Soak chicken livers in milk for at least 1 hour to draw out excess blood and reduce bitterness. Rinse in cold water. (this step is nice, but not necessary if you appreciate the somewhat ferrous flavor of organ meat.)
In a cast iron skillet, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add ½ an onion, sliced, and sliced mushrooms.
Saute’ the onions and mushrooms until the onions appear translucent, at with point sprinkle in nutmeg and white pepper. Mix in well.
When onions and mushrooms appear limp and reduced, but not over cooked, add chicken livers and cook until they no longer release blood and appear to have lost all of their raw pink color.
Add kale and mix in with other ingredients. Stir frequently and when the kale is as wilted as you like it, add salt to taste.
Serve up.

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