Sunday, July 10, 2011
Well, this recipe actually is more delicious than it sounds. Frankly, I've been playing around with beef liver because I know it's nutritious, and it seemed to me that there had to be a more creative approach than the same ol' liver & onions. Then, over the 4th of July weekend, we were grilling bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, it occurred to me. An unholy alliance of liver, jalapenos & bacon. And I'm pleased to report that it's pretty darn good. The beef liver brings a heartiness that's missing from the cream cheese filling, but the jalapenos & bacon are strong flavors that stand up for themselves. Liver ain't pushing them around.
There are copious ingredient notes (and some credits) after the recipe.
Grassfed beef liver
Cut the tops off the jalapenos, cut them in half and scrape out the seeds and membrane. If you like things hot, you can leave in a bit more of the membrane, that's where a lot of the spice is. Rinse your liver thoroughly and pat dry. If you're running a very hot BBQ or will be cooking these in the oven, briefly sear the outside of the liver, about 1 minute each side in a cast iron saucepan. If you're going to be cooking the poppers over a slower heat then go ahead and leave the liver raw. Cut the liver into chunks about 1/2" x 1/2" x 2". Cut your bacon in half, so the strips are a manageable size. Put 1 piece of liver in each jalapeno, wrap with a 1/2 strip of bacon, and pin it together with a toothpick. If you're doing them on a grill, put them in an mesh pan intended for grilling vegetables and grill until the bacon is crispy. If you're using the oven, put them on a pan and throw them under the broiler (on low) until the bacon is crispy. Enjoy.
If the whole procedure of coring the peppers and wrapping them with bacon is somehow confusing, please see these lovely illustrations from the Pioneer Woman.
GET GRASSFED LIVER! No, I'm not being a snob here. I tried working with normal supermarket liver once and it was DISGUSTING. Sliced super thin and it was slimy, slimy, slimy, like a slab of leech. Grassfed liver is firmer, less slimy and much tastier. It appeared to be actual MEAT rather than a meat by-product intended for pet food. It's also way cheaper than grassfed muscle meat, and you don't need a whole lot. One pound of grassfed liver costs me about $4 and will stuff about 32 jalapenos... that's 64 individual poppers!
As you can see in the picture, I tried a couple with cream cheese and liver. This was a failure (on texture), and didn't add to the flavor. Go ahead and skip the cream cheese. Or make some with just liver and some with just cream cheese. But don't cross the streams.
When I first got this idea, I googled "jalapeno liver" and found a very similar recipe from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. If you're trying to sneak some liver over on unsuspecting family members, you might want to give hers a try. Personally, I don't like the sneaky food approach... Cowboy Rumaki is liver, straight up, no apologies.
Bacon is a high sodium food. Oh yes it is. I continue to eat some bacon, but I restrict myself to small amounts of the lowest sodium nitrite free bacon I can find. 4 poppers have about 240mg of sodium. That's an amount that sometimes works for me, sometimes not, depending on what else I've eaten that day.