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Seared Calf Liver with Caramelized Onions

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Up until about a few years ago, I hated liver – couldn’t stomach it. It smelled nice whenever my parents would fry it up with onions. I would try it on occasion – one bite and with half a chew, I would place a napkin toward my mouth and expel it. Won’t go down.

Fast-forward to a few years ago – took a lady for a date on the Danforth (Toronto’s Greektown) and my date ordered liver and onions (special of the day). Her liver was served with lots of onions, side of fries.

We offered to share bites of each other’s dishes and to my surprise, her liver dish taste pretty good.

After that dinner, I’ve been to Greece a few times and liver would be ordered among friends (you order an array of dishes when dining with friends there) and liver would sometimes be ordered.

I didn’t like eating liver each time but I began to like it more. What I found was I like it when it was cooked to medium (a bit of pink in the middle) and the flavour was mild.

Most supermarkets carry beef liver and some also carry calf liver. The latter is milder tasting and I have found this to be my choice when cooking liver.

Today’s recipe is inspired by a dish I had in Crete, Liver Savoro, where the liver is paired with a sweet and sour sauce made from pan drippings and reduced wine vinegar. The herb used is fresh rosemary and it works wonderfully with the liver, onions and vinegar.

The presentation is inspired by how I had liver served when I visited Base Grill in Athens. The server would bring grilled liver table side and thinly slice the liver and plate for a family style presentation.

Seared Calf Liver with Caramelized Onions

(serves 4)

4 portions of calf liver

approx. 1 1/2 cups milk

sea salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Caramelized Onions

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

4 medium onions, peeled and sliced

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar


extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

balsamic vinegar

fried rosemary*

  1. Rinse your liver and place in a bowl. Cover with enough milk to just cover. Let stand room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel your onions, cut in half and cut into slices. Place butter in a pan over medium heat and add the onions and some salt. Stir and cover for 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally and you will soon see the onions begin to brown. Add sugar, stir in and cook until soft and golden. Add balsamic vinegar and reduce until almost all liquid gone. Taste, adjust seasoning and take off the heat.
  3. Remove the liver from the milk (discard milk) and pat-dry the liver with paper towel. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of liver and rub over all the surface. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place a seasoned cast-iron pan or non-stick pan on your stove-top. Set to medium – high heat. Add oil to the pan and carefully place liver in pan (do not crowd, cook in batches if need be) and saute 45 -60 seconds on one side.
  5. Flip and saute for another 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for a minute.
  6. Drizzle the bottom of each plate with olive oil. Use a sharp knife to cut thin slices of liver and place arrange on the middle of each plate. Top each plate with a mound of caramelized onions, drizzle extra-virgin oil, splash of balsamic vinegar, sea salt and fresh ground pepper and fried rosemary.
  7. Serve with a side of my no-fail french fries.

*Note on Fried Rosemary: Simply place fresh sprigs of rosemary into hot oil and fry until just crisp.

© 2020, Peter Minaki. All rights reserved.

The post Seared Calf Liver with Caramelized Onions first appeared on KALOFAGAS | GREEK FOOD & BEYOND.


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