Meat production in this country is heavily industrialized. The industry meets consumer demand by producing high volumes of only a few popular cuts from the entire animal, often wasting the rest. Chicken breasts, for instance, are so profitable that they finance all other parts of the bird, including the legs and wings.
But, this doesn’t have to be our reality. Small-scale, local meat producers are more concerned with quality over quantity. The way the industry looks today comes down to the simple fact that we as consumers are unfamiliar with how to use the entire animal, where to buy these unique cuts, and how to cook them. The truth is that the less popular cuts of meat can be just as delicious and even more nutritious, than the common varieties.
Considering the Chicken Liver
Introducing ‘Unique Cuts’, our new series to help all the omni- and carnivores out there to navigate eating meat more sustainably by using the entire animal. We’ll introduce new recipes and nutrition information about these cuts across a variety of Michigan meats, starting with chicken.
First, check out this fun and informative masterclass about the different cuts of the bird and how to cook them. We could, and likely will, dive into each and every one of the 6 chicken parts listed, but we’ll focus today on a very delicious part they didn’t include: the liver.
Incorporating organ meats, like liver, into our diets is one of the only natural ways to consume Vitamin D which is a critical nutrient for our immune system, mood, bone health and, even possibly cancer prevention. When sourcing these cuts, it’s important that they come from healthy, local animals to ensure maximum nutrition without harmful contaminants like heavy metals or antibiotics. Find a list of local Michigan Chicken Farms here.
Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, recommends starting with lighter flavored sweetbreads if you’re not used to eating organ meats. Liver and kidney, also more mild in flavor, are her next suggestion to try. Fallon also recommends adding organ meats into other foods or mixtures to begin incorporating them into your meals while reaping the nutritional benefits. This could include using bits of heart or liver finely chopped and added into stir fry, fried rice or other similar dishes.
Whether you’re new to organ meats or a long time lover, this recipe for chicken liver mousse is a great way to enjoy them.
Chicken Liver Mousse
Adapted from Chef James Bloomfield’s recipe
• 2 oz chicken livers (Up North Heritage Farm)
• 1 cup milk
• 1 medium onion, finely diced
• 5 oz. unsalted cultured butter
• 1/4 cup Cognac
Soak your chicken livers in a small bowl of milk for 20 minutes. Add your onion to a medium-hot pan with a tbsp of butter and a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent and starting to take on color. Then, add your chicken livers to the pan and cook until just done. Deglaze your pan with cognac, scraping up any fond, and add to a blender with 4 tbsp of butter. Blend, and press through a tamis, or fine mesh strainer. Chill until set, and serve on a warm slice of bread.
Tricia Phelps is the CEO of Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at [email protected].
Kelly Wilson, RDN, is TLD’s Director of Community Partners and is a Registered Dietitian. Contact her at [email protected].
Claire Butler is the Communications Coordinator with Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at [email protected].