Sunday, 19 August 2007

Fegato alla Veneziana (calves liver Venetian style)

It can be hard to find friends to share the delights of offal with. So much so in fact that I have had to start a monthly Offal Club to bring together ther real fans of "the fifth quarter". I think liver is quite an accessible organ and this recipe produces a flavoursome dish which can be enjoyed even by those with weaker stomachs.


Serves 2

225g calves' liver (ask the butcher to slice it thinly)
3 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
275 ml dry Marsala
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10g butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

NB. You will need two frying pans!


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a high heat, then add the onions and keep frying them over a high heat until they are dark round the edges. You'll need to keep tossing them otherwise they'll burn proper and become bitter - about 10 minutes. If they do co over the top (crispy), I suggest you start again.

Add the crushed garlic and toss that round the pan for a brief instant (30-60 seconds) before adding the Marsala and balsamic vinegar. Bring everything up to a gentle simmer, season, and then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let it just barely bubble (without covering) for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the liver by slicing it into approximately 1½ inch lengths keeping the lengths very thin. Imagine Mr Twit eating his worm spaghetti! When the 45 minutes are up, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil along with the butter in the other frying pan and, then when the butter foams, add the liver slices and sear them very briefly. They only need about 1-2 minutes to brown - any more will dry them out. If there's not enough space in the pan, you can do these in batches.

Add the liver strips to a warmed serving dish then deglaze the pan with a dash of marsala being careful to boil off the alcohol before adding the jus to the liver. Pour over the onions and sauce and serve immediately.

I like to serve this with spinach and chips made by shallow frying cold new potatoes. It would be equally at home (and a little more healthy) over a crisp baked potato.

Notes for gluttons

Lambs liver works well with this recipe too.