Another reminder of why offal is not-so-overrated
Offal might be one of the least sexy foods to write about, but in the nutrient department, organ meats such as liver, heart, and kidneys are known to pack a sexy punch. Currently, while we’re all doing our best to navigate through a global pandemic, “immune boosting” or “immune supporting” foods and dietary strategies are on many of our minds. Providing a mega healthy dose of vitamins and minerals in each serve, you really can’t look past organs for “immune boosting” foods.
…and let’s face it, while we’re in isolation, we’ve potentially got a good opportunity to venture into some uncharted cooking territory.
Why not give liver a go?
I’d like to call offal as an “immune booster” simply because offal is a farrrrrrsuperior, dense, source of several nutrients compared to other foods sources:
- Minerals: Organ meats are highly concentrated sources of minerals, including iron and zinc. Zinc, in particular, is important for producing the white blood cells that run our immune system.
- Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K: Animal products tend to be very good sources of pre-formed fat-soluble vitamins because they’re often stored in fat and organ tissue. Liver, in particular, is the richest dietary source of pre-formed vitamin A. Preformed means that the vitamin is “ready to go”, unlike β-carotene found in plant foods (carrots) which needs to undergo a series of conversions before being able to perform its immune-supporting roles.
- B vitamins: Since organs have much higher energy requirements than muscle, they also have higher concentrations of nutrients involved in energy metabolism. Organs contain higher levels of vitamin B1, B2, B6, folate, and B12. Liver is also the richest dietary sources of lesser-known B vitamin choline, which plays an essential role in nerve and brain function.
Technical detail aside, what you need to know is that offal is probably the closest things to natures multivitamin.
Liver is my preferred form or organ meat because it’s the most versatile and easy to access. Here are some ways to incorporate it in your diet:
Fried with butter and delicious fragrants:
Liver can be fried up like any lean meat. Chicken liver, in particular, has a very soft texture and doesn’t tend to go rubbery when cooked at high temperatures. Simply heat up butter and fragrant seasonings such as garlic and herbs in a pan then add your chopped liver. Chicken livers take about the same amount of time to cook as fried eggs. Easy.
Mix into mince:
For people who find offal too strong tasting, the best way to disguise it is mixed into beef or lamb mince. Your local butcher may be happy to make an offal-mince blend for you with a 70:30 beef mince:liver or heart blend. Or if you dare, 50:50. Mince is one of the best ways to incorporate heart, since heart has a lot of tough connective tissue.
I can also be very confronting to chop up organs yourself at home. Some things are best left to the professionals.
The alternative to ordering a offal-mince blend from your butcher is to simply grate frozen liver shavings. Freeze fresh liver into a block and take a few shavings each time you cook a red mince dish.
Pate could be one of the most approachable ways to incorporate offal into a person’s diet. It’s fashionable and incredibly delicious when done well. When buying pate, ideally be picky and read the label. Quality pate should have minimal additives such as flavour enhancer, colourants, and wheat fillers. That usually means shopping as artisanal markets to find a hand-made product.
Making pate fresh at home can not only be cost-effective, it’s often far more delicious than store-bought options. Put this recipe on your to-do list for a quite weekend in the kitchen.
Lastly, if offal and meat, in general, gives you the heebie jeebies, but you still see the nutritional benefit, then thankfully you can take a short cut with a supplement.
If you choose to supplement, look for a good quality grass fed organ blend such as this one by Ancestral Supplements.