Monday, August 8, 2011

Liver and Butter Saute (GAPS-legal, grain- and gluten-free)

Liver is one of the most healthful foods.  Although my daughter and husband aren't wild about the taste of liver, I still try to make sure that the baby and I eat it once a week. Liver preparation doesn't have to be complicated.  This dish is simple and cooks up very quickly.  The butter really compliments the flavor of liver.  I usually make this as a quick snack; however, it would also make a great main course.

Liver and Butter Saute
Make 2-3 chicken livers for each adult
  • Chicken livers, preferably from pastured animals
  • Milk kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt for soaking the livers
  • Butter, preferably from grassfed cows
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Soak the livers in milk kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt for several hours or overnight. This really mellows the flavor of the liver and gives it a wonderful texture.
  2. Drain the livers and blot them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.  Season the livers with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Melt a generous amount of butter in a skillet over medium heat.  I like to use about 1 tablespoon of butter for each chicken liver.
  4. Once the butter is hot, add the chicken livers.  Allow them to cook 1-2 minutes, then flip them and cook another minute or two.  DO NOT OVERCOOK the livers; they should still be nicely pink inside.
  5. Pour the livers and butter into a dish.  Chop or mash the livers with a fork, then swirl them around to coat each piece generously with the melted butter.  Serve immediately. 
This recipe is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!


    1. I haven't cooked much liver. I really would like to start incorporating it more into our diet. I also do not have easy access to a good source for pastured chickens. Right now, my choices are organic cage free chicken from the store, or pastured chickens from a local farm that I know are fed soy (and undoubtedly they are GMOs)... I feel more comfortable with the organic chicken, even though they aren't pastured, so we get that and eat chicken about once a week. Seeing how livers are a body's filter, I don't feel comfortable eating their livers... and half the time they aren't included in there anyway. So anyhoo..... that long drawn out explanation probably really wasn't necessary.... my question is, I have a bunch of good grassfed beef livers from our cow... can I cook them the same way? I would assume so, but I don't have much experience cooking livers at all, and I would like to try. I figure slathered with lots of butter would be a good bet. I also considered dredging them in coconut flour and frying them in coconut oil. What do you think?

    2. My question is similar to Laura's (above). I keep reading that liver is good for me and worked up my nerve to buy some, though I haven't worked up my nerve enough to cook it yet - partly because I haven't been sure what to do with it. However, I bought beef liver. Are beef liver and chicken liver similar in their nutritional benefits? Is the taste similar, or is one more palatable than the other? I'm feeling the need to disguise mine somewhat, rather than cooking them straight up. Can they be mixed into meatloaf or meat patties? Or some other strategy for hiding them a bit?

    3. Hi Tara and Laura,
      If you are new to liver, I would recommend you try something like breaded liver that gets fried in butter/lard/tallow, served alongside well-cooked onions. Beef liver is stronger flavored than chicken, so soaking the liver in buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, or lemon juice first is a must (the recipe in NT uses lemon juice).

      Also, if you think you'd like to try hiding the flavor more than that, you could try a recipe with a more subtle liver flavor, such as this one that has the nice strong flavor of bacon:

      Liver pate is also delicious, even for those that don't typically like liver. I don't make it often, though, as it is a bit of work.

      I know some people like to hide a bit of liver in spaghetti or meatballs, but I've never done that as I'm afraid if the flavor was too strong, then I would have turned my daughter off to a food that she already really loves. To sneak some liver into her diet (since she doesn't much like the flavor anymore), I put very small pieces of raw liver in the blender whenever I make a smoothie. If I get the pieces small enough, there is no liver flavor at all. It's not ideal, but better than her not ever getting any liver. I cut chicken livers into very small pieces and freeze them on parchment paper so there is always some ready for smoothies.

      I hope this helps!

    4. So what exactly IS the dreaded taste of liver? Bitter, just plain nasty, or what? I think I'm afraid of the taste because of hearing about it tasting bad, but I don't even know what the taste is actually like. And wouldn't you know I unknowingly bought the more strong-tasting kind! The smoothie option sounds very well-concealed, but I don't ever eat raw meat so that would be another new aspect, and similar to your spaghetti concern with your daughter, I'd hate to ruin the whole smoothie by adding too much or just not being able to tolerate the taste. I guess I'll have to just start small and see what I can handle! Pate sounds reasonable also since you said it works for those who don't like liver; I'll have to look into recipes for that. Thanks for the info.

    5. Ha! The taste is not bitter, but hard to describe. It's just liver; a very strong flavor; the best way I could describe it is that it tastes bloody and meaty. But I like the flavor when it is cooked (I don't particularly like it raw). My 18-month-old likes it cooked or raw. My daughter used to like it, but hasn't been too interested for the last year or so. My husband likes it okay if breaded and fried, but no other way.

    6. Thanks Sarah! I was planning on soaking them in lemon juice, per my recipe in NT. I think I will try them breaded and fried first with some onions. Wish me luck!

    7. One other thing to try: you could make a simple gravy to go with the liver. Chicken or beef stock with a dash or worcestshire sauce. That way there is a super tasty dip if anyone needs a flavor enhancer.

    8. Hi,my family just recently went on the GAPS diet, and we just purchased a good deal of liver from pastured chickens. I was wondering why you soak the liver? I don't recall ever reading anything about this. I definitely don't want to skip this step if it is necessary!

    9. Hmm...meaty sounds okay, so I suppose it's the "bloody" taste that turns people off. Regarding breading and frying, since I am grain free (and I think you are too, right?), would you use dried coconut, or almond flour, or something else to "bread" them? I suppose either of those could be used, after dipping the livers in egg to make the coating stick. I guess if all else fails, I can hold my nose, take a bite, and swallow quickly. :)

    10. Nourishing Traditions recommends soaking liver in lemon juice to draw out impurities. I prefer soaking in buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt, but lemon juice works well too.

      For breading, I would try coconut flour. I find almond flour to be a bit heavy for breading (but I think others do like it).

    11. If anyone is still reading here, I have a suggestion. You can sneak a little liver in a chili recipe that calls for a lot of spices. It will hide the flavor. Your kids won't know unless you tell them.

    12. Linda, I just stopped back by to see if there were any more comments. That's a good idea. I'll be hiding the flavor from myself and my husband. :) Sounds like it could work nicely! Thanks for the idea.

    13. Tara, not sure if this is too late to post,
      but we had a wonderful liver/beef meatloaf at a farm to table restaurant in Philly. They used 1 part soaked liver to 3 parts ground beef, added onions, peppers, spices etc and made a baked pate that my kids loved so much they asked for seconds and then thirds... so may be the same idea as adding it to chili- well flavored liver blends in well with other ground meats.

    14. Hi,
      I purchased beef liver from a pastured beef farmer. I froze it and finally decided to try a recipe to eat the liver. I defrosted it - took about 2 days in the fridge to finally get it thawed. I ended up soaking it in whey for several days. It has been in the fridge for about 5 days or so (I forgot about it) soaking in the whey which I have changed several times. Is it still good to fry up and eat or should I throw it out? Will I be able to tell is it is bad by the smell?

      Thank you,

    15. Hi Celeste,
      I would guess it will still be okay. But sniff it to be sure!

    16. HI all - I too am trying to get more liver- I desperately need it in my diet, but can't stand it and don'w know what to do with it.
      I've been boiling it as I would a chicken for soup. Then I use some of the broth in soups and I grind up the boiled liver and hide it in spaghetti sauce or chili. Will this still give me the nutritional benefits? Should I be soaking it first to draw out impurities? I know that beef liver is higher in b vitmins so I'm trying to get brave enough to do something with them too. But there they sit in the freezer and me not knowing exactly what to do to get them down my throat! LOL.

      1. I'm sure your method for liver is fine too. I think the main thing is just to make ure to eat it regularly! I also take dessicated liver pills (from Dr. Ron) to even out those times when I don't get around to making liver.

    17. im a newbie cook lol in fact everything I know about cooking comes from amazing papa's cooking games, but now i'm trying real thing :D and I really love chicken liver (fried). This recipe looks interesting I'll defo give it a try.


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