Choosing The Richest Chicken Liver Is All About Color

Chicken livers come in an array of colors — from tan to yellow to a deep purplish-brown red. Each shade comes with a degree of the gamey, pungent flavor liver is known and loved (or not loved) for. Whether you're looking for a rich-tasting liver or one on the milder side, all you have to do is gauge the color.

Pale and cream-colored livers are fattier. The lighter shade indicates the chicken consumed a high-carb diet and probably didn't get enough exercise. Not only is a pale liver safe to eat, they usually have a more delicate and richer flavor than deeply colored red livers. Deep red livers have more of that intense organ meat essence to them. One liver color you definitely want to stay away from is green. That can indicate the gallbladder ruptured and leaked. While still safe to consume, it may not be the most appetizing color choice.

Liver's bold and slightly metallic, earthy flavor is due to the high amount of blood in the tissue. This is why it is often soaked in milk before cooking. It is believed that milk helps draw out the blood and helps mellow the flavor. The amount of blood in the tissue (specifically heme, or iron-containing molecules) also determines the color of the liver.

How to enjoy chicken liver

If you're wanting to incorporate more organ meats into your diet but are new to the liver game, it's best to go with a paler liver to get accustomed to the taste. While chicken liver tends to be a polarizing food, it is a powerhouse of nutrients and relatively easy to prepare. Next time you purchase a whole chicken to roast, don't discard the baggie of giblets inside. Hang onto the liver and try your hand at a dish. An easy method of preparation is to sauté them in butter or olive oil until cooked through, adding any seasonings you'd like. You can toss in some caramelized onions to turn it into a classic liver and onions. You can also whip up a chicken liver paté. Just sauté the livers with shallots in butter, deglaze the pan with brandy or port, and then grab a food processor and pulse away with a bit of cream.

Liver is a rich source of iron, protein, and B vitamins. They contain more vitamins and minerals than muscle meats, per WebMD. It's also high in vitamins A, C, and potassium. If you don't enjoy the taste but want to reap the benefits, choose a paler liver and a preparation that involves other rich ingredients that help mask the gaminess, such as adding it to a Bolognese. Or, spread some paté on a toasted baguette topped with a fig compote and a side of cornichons, and it goes right from gamey to grand.