Fegato alla Veneziana (calf’s liver in Porto wine)

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june 2014 009june 2014 011The keys to success with this classic Venetian dish are to slice the liver and onions very thin and to work rapidly to avoid overcooking. In France calf liver is usually prepared with red wine. In Italy a soft polenta is a nice accompaniment with the liver.

  • 1-pound piece calf’s liver
  • 3/4 pound onions, sliced paper-thin
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 100 ml Porto wine


1. Rinse liver to remove any traces of blood and discard membrane and any tough veins. Cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

2. Cook onions in 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, 1 minute. Cover skillet and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm, covered.

3. Pat half of liver slices dry and toss with salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté seasoned liver, shaking skillet and turning liver, until browned on both sides but still pink inside, about 2 minutes. Put cooked liver on top of onions and cover. Add wine to skillet and deglaze, scraping up brown bits and boiling until liquid is slightly reduced. Pour water and cream over cooked liver and wipe skillet clean. Sauté remaining liver as above, then add rest of liver with onions and parsley, tossing briefly.


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