Friday, July 30, 2010

Liver & Onions

Liver and Onions. Nothing over the top about that at all. It just has to be done properly. That is what I aimed to do.

Feeding off the success of the stuffed pork foot, I decided that I'm gonna go a lot heavier on the offal cuts for lunch features. The tourists are in town and hopefully some of them are foodies.

I chose a whole calf's liver to do this feature. It is paramount for the success of the liver that you get a thick cut piece from your butcher as opposed to the paper thin strips. If the liver is over cooked the beautiful silky texture is lost. There is now way to get a properly cooked liver if the cut is too thin. Once you have the liver, soak it in milk overnight or for 24hrs if possible. I like to put some aromatics in the milk as well, i.e. bay leaf, thyme peppercorns etc. Soaking the liver helps to draw out any excess blood and impurities that may be present, I also find that the flavor mellows out quite a bit, losing a lot of the iron taste. When you're ready to cook the liver, remove it from the milk and pat it dry. Season with salt and pepper. In a medium too high heat pan, add your oil followed by the liver. Sear it on all sides evenly. It should be slightly mushy to the touch when ready. If it has a lot of spring to it, it is underdone. Sort of the opposite of steak. Let it rest for 5 min in order to allow the tissues to relax.

For the onion component I caramelized the onions and then made a polenta around that. I pressed the polenta after it was cooked and then cut it into desired sizes. When ready to eat, simply pan sear. There was approx. 50% onion to polenta in the mix.

The vegetable component was simple and a favorite of mine. I sauteed onion and then added quartered pieces of local tomatoes, allowing them to stew until thick. Once the tomatoes have reached the desired consistency, I added some roasted garlic and cut rounds of baby summer squash. At this point I only cook it for a few more minutes, just enough to heat the summer squash through. I don't want the squash to become soft, the textural quality is very important. Then add your seasoning and spread the ragout out in a wide, shallow dish, in order to allow it to cool as fast as possible. When ready to eat, simply reheat gently.

The sauce was a poultry jus with balsamic vinegar reduced in it. I chose poultry jus as opposed to beef because the sauce can easily overpower the great subtleties that make liver such a treat. Ask any Italian what they drizzle on top of their calf's liver, they will all tell you, balsamic vinegar. It is the perfect match. I also like it in sauces as it adds that ever needed acidity to an already rich sauce.

For a little bit of freshness I did a salad of micro greens with celery leafs tossed in lemon vinaigrette. Celery leafs have to be one of my all time favorite greens, a great flavor to go along with the onion polenta.

It didn't sell as well as I had hoped, 10/25, not bad, I'll run it again tomorrow. Those who had it absolutely loved it. That's the way it goes with liver though, you either love it or you don't.

Sean Peltier.


  1. I gotta tell ya, never have been a huge liver fan. Haven't ever really been a liver hater, but the situation has to be pretty special for it to be my first choice.

    What I learned about liver is it's the un-seared middle part that I like best. I also learned a little liver goes a long way, and it's too bad that the various constraints that constrain us keep us from having a teensie bit of liver on each plate...maybe 10-15% of total food-on-plate area.

    I applaud your passage through the animal. Does Savour magazine know about your voyage?

  2. They sure as shit do know. I'm with you on that sediment. I also like liver, in small amounts, and yes, the raw part is by far the best part, silky smooth.