13th August 2014

Venetian-style calves’ liver with onions

By MaitreMarcel

Liver, and especially calves liver, is full of nutrients. Offal are cheap compared to the more noble cuts of meat but a good piece of young calves liver costs a bit more while remaining good value.
Liver is often paired with onion. On the one hand, going back to the theme of economically priced offal, onions were usually abundant.

On top of that, onions are also nutrition bombs with their polyphenols and complement the vitamins, minerals and protein from the liver.
Liver is an acquired taste, some love it and others hate it. The liver onion combinations is used in many cuisines. In Britain, bacon is added to enhance the taste, but that also adds unnecessary fat. Sometimes the onions are caramelized for a sweeter taste. Sage, rosemary and lemon juice are also used with calves’ liver.,
Here I made an Italian version, an updated Fegato alla Veneziana. This calls for the liver to be cut in thin bite-size slices and cooked rapidly in a frying pan. The onions have first been cooked for 20 minutes to longer.
The traditional recipe calls for a dash of wine (vinegar) into the frying pan at the end to accumulate the cooking rests and flavours. But this also gathers the remaining fat and calories so I skipped that part.
Why did calves liver become a Venezian delicacy? I am not sure but would not be surprised if it is an influence from the large Jewish community in the serene Republic.

Ingredients for two

  • 300 grammes of calves’ liver
  • Three onions
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Slice the onions into thin rings
  2. Heat three tablespoons of oil in a skillet, add the onions are stir with a spoon when they stat to sizzle, turn down the head and continue cooking for at least 20 minutes, tossing and stirring from time to time until the onions are golden but not black.
  3. You can prepare the onions ahead of time.
  4. Cut the liver in thin bite-size bits
  5. Check the level of oil in the skillet.
  6. Shortly before serving time, heat the skillet until the oil smokes, turn down the heat and put the liver in the skillet, in batches when needed as the parts should not overlap. Some 30 to 45 seconds later (about the time to put in the last slice of liver) start turning the first slice you put in and continue through the batch, then remove from the heat if you have more batches.
  7. With all the liver back in the pan, return the onions and toss a few times at low heat, add pepper and serve.