so here’s the deal. i love calf’s liver. but i rarely get to have it because it’s seemingly not very popular here in these southern parts. up until recently, i couldn’t even procure a piece unless i committed to the entire liver. which was not going to happen – my love knows bounds…
but saturday we were at ‘whole foods’ and while perusing the meat case, i spotted some, all shimmery and liver’y. it must be a new product addition to our particular store, so as you might imagine, i was pretty excited. cary won’t touch the stuff so we bought him a dry aged ny strip and i got my calf’s liver – which, if calculating ounce for ounce is 1/3 the price. (note: they charged me for a veal rack instead of the liver – which was double the price. i noticed this when i got home and now i have to deal with it, though ‘whole foods’ is always good about this kind of thing.)
as a kid, my mom would make this on occasion and i’d be lying if i told you that i was happy about it at the time. but in those days we ate what was served and grimaced through the dinner. there was no feeding it to the dog we didn’t have. there was no hiding chewed up and spit out mouthfuls in my napkin and dumping the contents into houseplants or behind the drapes. i ate it. it wasn’t my favorite, but i lived to tell the tale and learned to not only appreciate calf’s liver, but to actually love it. especially when i first had it served with apples and bacon. total wow…
this past july when i was in nyc i had a great lunch at felidia’s, with my secundo being an amazing calf’s liver dish. it was served with a mix of farro and polenta and the meat was finished with sautéed shallots and a reduction of balsamic vinegar. it was definitely one of the better things that i had eaten that trip – hands down. so this was an opportunity to recreate it. and i love a challenge, minor as this one might have been.
so i grabbed my molto italiano book and with mario’s help (on page 405), he once again showed me the way, the light and the truth. for the polenta, i kept it pretty light and simple and just added some grated parmigiano at the end.
flour seasoned with salt and pepper to dredge the liver
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 lb. calf’s liver cut into 1/4" slices
1 cup sliced shallots
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T chopped parsley
heat the olive oil in a 10" sauté pan until very hot but not smoking and add the butter. when the foam subsides, dredge the liver in the seasoned flour and cook until brown on one side, about 4 minutes. transfer the liver to a warm plate.
add the shallots to the pan and cook until very soft, about 6 minutes. add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. place the liver on top of the onions, uncooked side down, reduce heat to medium and cook until just cooked through – about 5 minutes.
so i got it all together, plated it as nicely as i was willing, snapped a few photos, poured myself a glass of a surprisingly good argentinean malbec (terrazas reserva 2004) and took a bite…
really bad. like, really really b.a.d.
it was the liver. something was off. not rotten, more like, well, shitty. as in shit tasting. as in if i had ever eaten shit, which although proverbially, i may have – in reality i have not – but had i, i would imagine this would be close to what it would be like.
and i’m trying to figure out where i went wrong. or was it just the meat? did i dredge it too early? did i undercook it for fear of overcooking it? i can’t figure it out… the buttery shallots with balsamic were truly wonderful and the polenta was just right for the dish. as i gingerly ate the end pieces of the liver which were seemingly the least offensive, i sadly realized, i had to let it go.
but i have cats! and so i cut it all up into little pieces and gave it to my little guy merle. and he scarfed it down like there’d be no tomorrow. he’s almost 15 and weighs less than 7 lbs and he likes to eat animals. preferably dead and cooked as his hunting days are now behind him.
then the little guy went to sleep.
an hour later i heard it.
he puked it all up.