Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Calves liver and onions. Or for those who prefer animal parts not be included in the title of their dinner, fegato alla veneziana.

Apparently fegato originally meant figs, don't know what figs have to do with calves liver and onion, maybe someone can enlighten me. Or maybe I should have studied Latin beyond Year 8. I was such a lazy student. I hated everything about school except lunchtime. Ah, the aroma emanating from the pie-warmer in the canteen!

That's five different angles in the first paragraph. I really should be more disciplined in my writing.

Now, where were we? I've been doing calves liver with onions every now and then for years and I can't remember where I found the recipe. So I googled it and couldn't find one exactly the same (which is kind of good in a way).

Cook two or three finely chopped onions in half butter, half olive oil until well coated and on the point of becoming translucent, then add half a cup of white wine and three quarters of a cup of lemon juice. Plus a good dash of nutmeg and a shake of salt and pepper. Set on a low heat and let the onions cook away for about an hour. They'll be on the point of caramelising.

While that's happening, make up a batch of polenta and set it going. Cut up a bunch of spinach, cook it, salt it, pepper it and swirl it with cream.

Now, press a little cracked black pepper and sea salt into your thinly-sliced liver and pan-fry it quickly in butter and olive oil. A few minutes either side is adequate depending on thickness.

Serve on (or under, or beside - meal geometry is not one of my priorities in life) the 'lemonised' onions with polenta and the creamy, dreamy spinach. Scalloped potatoes cooked simply in milk and cream also go well with this.

Sometimes I have some liver left over - I make a pasta dish by frying small strips of the liver and serving it with toasted pine-nuts and chiles and spaghetti. Grated parmesan on top.

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