Let us start by saying: This piece isn’t for the vegans. Or the vegetarians. Or even the pescatarians. While we are huge supporters of a mostly plant-based diet at Amé, we know that nutrition is deeply complex and intimately personal. What one body needs can vary greatly from the needs of another body — and we recognize that.
Organ meats aren’t very popular, and we get it. First of all, they ain’t pretty. Secondly, they can be difficult to cook — overcook them, and you’ll be chewing for an eternity. Seriously, they can be downright inedible. But when cooked and seasoned just right, they are a delicacy! Not only that, but they are incredibly inexpensive at your local butcher counter compared with their white meat counterparts, and yet are many times more nutritionally dense than muscle meat.
There are many types of organ meats, and they are consumed by many cultures. There are:
Tongue: It can be chewy, sure — but it’s typically very tender and delicious due to its high fat content.
Heart: This extremely lean organ looks similar to liver, and tastes similar, too.
Kidneys: Just like in humans, there are two, and they are used to filter out toxins and impurities from the blood.
Brain: It’s rich in omega-3s, and considered a delicacy in many cultures.
Sweetbreads: Not sweet nor a bread at all — but rather, this is the thymus gland and pancreas.
Tripe: Otherwise known as intestines, or the lining of the animal’s stomach.
Liver: The detox organ.
While there are a lot to choose from here, we consider the liver to be the #1 go-to when trying organ meats for nutritional value. The liver is loaded with iron, protein, b vitamins, minerals, and folate, making it a powerhouse superfood — especially for menstruating women or those trying to recalibrate their hormones after a long stretch of oral contraceptives with depleting side effects.
B12 and folate are the stars of the liver show, and are absolutely vital to proper — or better yet, optimal — nutrition. Our body requires them for biological methylation and DNA synthesis, which just means that they are absolutely imperative for cellular function. This is most notably important when it comes to our cognitive health: When we don’t consume enough folate or B12, we can suffer severe neurological and hematological issues like depression, early onset Alzheimer’s, stroke, and cognitive impairment, as well as birth defects for expecting mothers.
These crucial vitamins are anti-inflammatory and immune supportive, helping maintain balance, strength, and resilience of all body systems. Vitamins D and K are bffs, creating a canvas for healthy bone density and collagen production, while vitamin E works as a powerful antioxidant against oxidative stress. The liver may not be pretty, but it sure makes us pretty!
When it comes to buying liver, most butcher counters will have an organic selection. You may be shocked to find that a pound of chicken liver is around $5 at most markets, which is less than half the cost for that weight in chicken breast. Quite literally, liver is much more nutrient bang for your buck!
While beef liver is extremely nutritious, some find both the flavor profile and the sturdier texture a little more intense. Chicken liver tends to be a bit more mild and delicate, and blends up easily with bone broth, aromatic spices, and vegetables for a powerhouse påté. Give it a try smeared over your favorite crusty bread, or dip some veggies in it for a super healthy, protein-rich meal. Your inner witch approves.