First, Some Theory….Then, We Feast! By: Craig Graceffo, L.Ac.
Spring has sprung! You can smell it in the air! Now, is the time for growing, expanding, coming out of hibernation, cracking open the seed! Within the Five Element perspective, Spring is associated with the Wood Element; the color is green; the associated emotion is anger. The organs associated with this season are the Liver and Gallbladder. Imagine the Liver as the architect, the general, the one who devises, manages, and directs our plans and actions. Think of the Gallbladder as the decision-maker, the one who must find the courage to act on those plans and ideas. These two organs depend on each other to perform their respective functions. In breaking down the individual duties further, the Liver stores blood; it ensures the smooth flow of Qi in the body; it controls the sinews; it manifests in the nails; it opens into the eyes; it controls tears; it houses our Ethereal Soul; and, it is affected by anger. The Gallbladder stores and excretes bile; it controls decisiveness; it also controls the sinews; and it influences the quality and length of sleep. So, as we march forward into spring, imagine yourself a bamboo shoot: expand your reach toward the sun while at the same time sending deep roots into the ground to keep yourself firmly planted as the spring winds blow; remain flexible as you blossom out in all directions so as not to incur any damage (physically, mentally and/or emotionally). Establish plans and goals with clarity. Remain steadfast and decisive. Seek regular acupuncture and herbal consults to keep your Liver and Gallbladder functioning properly. Now, the feast! Liver and other assorted offal does not have the best reputation in this country, sadly. This is mostly due to baseless fear and not knowing how or what to do with these amazing animal parts. Just know that the liver is the most nutrient-dense food one can consume. Below is a quick recipe, originating from the Tuscany region in Italy. Quite simple, quite delicious! Sauteed Chicken Liver on Toast - Serves: 8
Ingredients: 1. 1 stick, unsalted butter (4 oz.) 2. 1 white onion, minced 3. 3 Bay leaves 4. 1.5 lbs. chicken livers, rinsed & cleaned of bile, cut into 4 pieces each 5. 1 cup dry white wine 6. Chicken stock or chicken broth, 3 tablespoons 7. Capers, 2 tablespoons, rinsed 8. Sliced/toasted homemade bread or slices of endive (great substitute for gluten-free folks) 9. Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped Directions: 1. Melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaves. When the onion begins to take on color, add the livers. Livers do release some liquid; if they do, allow additional time to simmer off the excess. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. 2. Add the wine; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until wine evaporates. Then, add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any of the livers that have stuck. Remove bay leaves. Transfer the livers to a cutting board and let cool. 3. Add capers to the cutting board and mince everything together. Side note: although not included in the ingredients list above, people sometimes include sardines or anchovies to the cutting board to mince in with the livers and capers (this adds a whole other level/dimension of flavor). Transfer the mince back to the skillet with the remaining butter and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Here, you are just warming the mixture. 4. Drizzle the toast with the liquid from the livers and then spread the livers over the toast or scoop into endive wedges. Sprinkle parsley over top as a garnish. 5. Mince can be cooled, refrigerated, consumed within 2-3 days.