Simmered Chicken Livers

When our daughter was very young, we were fortunate to have a series of wonderful Chinese caregivers for her – they loved her as one of their own and spoiled her rotten: multi-dish hot lunches were the norm (is it any wonder she can’t think of a cold sandwich as lunch to this day?), and one of her very favorite dishes (although she’ll deny this vociferously now) was simmered chicken livers. One day she asked for this for dinner, so off to the store we went, only to find that the chicken livers were not available. A loud wailing ensued, and an older woman bent over the stroller: “Oh, honey, won’t your mommy buy you a cookie?” She totally did NOT believe that the tears were being shed over chicken livers….

Not a lot of people seem to eat liver these days, but my husband and I do like it, so we took advantage of some extra turkey livers being available at the farm where we buy our Thanksgiving turkey. This dish is quick and tasty (if you’re a fan of liver) and can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold.

ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken (or duck or turkey) livers
  • 1/4 c dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 c light soy sauce
  • 1/4 c Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 T brown or raw cane sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 c water
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2″ sections
  • 3 slices fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves star anise or 1/2 tsp anise seed
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns

method

  1. Boil 4 c water, then pour it over the livers in a bowl. Give it a gentle stir, then drain and rinse the livers in cold water.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small pot, add the livers, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 m.
  3. Turn off the heat and allow the livers to sit another 5 m.
  4. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve hot, drizzled with a bit of the liquid.

variation

You can remove the livers from the liquid and reduce it at a rolling boil, then use the resulting syrup as a drizzle on the livers.

do ahead

This dish can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and either served cold or gently reheated. Store the livers in the liquid in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

 

Paying the farmer’s asking price…and increasing the farmer’s share

Rural SCALE recently released a study on the affordability of local food for the average consumer, collecting data from 24 farmers’ markets in 19 communities in 6 southeastern states. The study concludes that

Overall, farmers markets in the Southeast and Appalachia are highly competitive with mainstream supermarkets in their pricing on a range of commonly consumed foods, including produce, meats and eggs. (Emphasis in the original.)

Naturally, one might draw different conclusions from similar studies of other regions, but there are some interesting statistics (and generalizable conclusions?) about size of community and prices at farmers’ markets that sell to moderate- and low-income patrons, those who might believe that the local food movement has passed them by.

Then consider this graphic by the National Farmers Union: Farmer’s Share of Retail Food Dollar. I’m not so interested in the startling figures on processed foods (soft drinks, potato chips, bread) because few of the raw ingredients are actually supplied by a farmer. Far more disturbing are the figures on whole, minimally processed ingredients. Take the produce section of a conventional supermarket (think Safeway, Kroger, etc.), for example: farmers receive anywhere from 10.3 cents on the dollar for lettuce to 30 cents on the dollar for carrots.

Now think about buying this produce at a farmers’ market or directly from a farmer: if it’s true that the prices at the farmers’ market are comparable to those of the supermarket for comparable items, the farmer will suddenly have $4.59 (instead of $1.38) in his pocket for 5 pounds of carrots; $3.08 (instead of $0.27) for a pound of tomatoes, etc.

Buying local food at the farmers’ market certainly seems like a win-win for farmers and consumers.