Saturday, May 22, 2010

Liver and Onions

When I was a boy my mother often fixed liver and onions and she would say 'you are the only child I've ever heard of that likes liver.' It was true, I did enjoy it even when I was quite young. I've always been a good eater, and perhaps that is because my mother was a fantastic cook. It wasn't just me that thought this, but most all of our family and friends. She baked a dessert each week and she made a wide range of dishes from her Italian heritage to dishes like this, which are popular in Britain and Germany, from where my father's side of the family hailed.

Julian's Beef Liver and Onions

Liver and onions has fallen out of favor in much of the USA, but seems to be more common in the south than the north. It is often eaten with boiled or mashed potatoes. While the liver of lamb and beef is common, I prefer calves (veal) liver. It is more tender and has a more delicate flavor. It should be sliced thinly and not over cooked if you want a very delicious, if somewhat rich dinner.

Julian's Calves Liver with Mushrooms - Glazed
Liver provides for a protein-loaded meal that is very high in iron and vitamins A and B. It's also high in cholesterol so if you are watching yours, you may want to limit this dish to once per year, as Kevin and I do. Of course I always say that if you have this meal with a glass or two of good red wine, it cuts the cholesterol at least in half. (smile)

Thinly sliced beef liver.

I sauté my liver with a combination of butter and olive oil, as is common in the Spanish Catalonian region, rather than with butter or lard as the French tend to prefer. I know some Italians that include a dash of balsamic vinegar when the liver is cooked, which adds a nice flavor. I simply dust with some seasoned flour, sauté it in the butter/oil mixture until well browned on the first side, and just seared on the second side. I transfer it to a platter and let it finish cooking in a 300F oven while I cook sliced Vidalia (sweet) onion in the drippings, until they are soft.If you prefer the onions slightly glazed as in my calves liver photo above, let the onions cook stirring regularly until they begin to brown and pick up color from the drippings in the pan. Then add 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) of sherry or white wine and stir to combine and loosen anything stuck the pan. Simmer until the sherry/wine is reduced by half then cover with a lid to finish the cooking. The is my preferred (although not my mother's) method.

Calves liver sauteing. 
If you haven't had liver prepared in this way or have been loath to try it at home, be brave. Variety in your dining habits will make meals more enjoyable and also provide you with a lifetime of health and happiness.

Glazed Sweet Onions

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