How can a recipe for liver hold fond memories? For me, it does. As odd as it may seem, I vividly recall how happy I was each time liver was for dinner. It was sort of a treat, if you can deem that possible. Perhaps it was the way in which my mother prepared it that made it so delicious. And no, neither tomatoes nor garlic were used in this recipe. She used bacon, onions and red wine vinegar for this dish, which were flavors that rarely graced our dinner table. Maybe that was what was so exotically delicious to me, even as a child? It was like taking a walk on the wild side.
To the best of my recollection, we only had this scrumptious dish when my mom’s long time girlfriend came to dinner. It must have been a favorite of hers. This friend of my mom’s was a career woman, who never married, so she was as much of an enigma to me, as was the liver. So these evenings were something very special to me. I loved to hear her stories regarding the work environment (I can only imagine what the pay differential was then!!); I loved looking at her expensive, professional clothing; and of course, I loved the liver.
Liver, simply broiled, was also one of the first finger foods that both of my children loved as toddlers. I can see them sitting in their highchairs, picking up the small pieces with their chubby little fingers, and chewing and smiling. What ever possessed me to think to make this for them at this early age? I suppose I thought the love of liver would run in the family.
RECIPE: serves 6
2 pounds calf’s liver, cut into 6 pieces
1 cup whole milk
8 bacon slices, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 TBSP unsalted butter, plus extra if needed
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1. Place liver in a large glass baking dish and cover with the milk. Let soak for twenty minutes or so.
2. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add butter and bacon and cook until bacon is rather crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer bacon, with a slotted spoon, onto paper towels to drain.
3. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon fat until caramelized, about 10 minutes Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Transfer onions to a bowl and add the bacon to this dish. Set aside.
4. Pat liver dry and discard the milk. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large zip lock bag or in a dish large enough to hold the liver. Coat the liver on all sides in the flour . Set aside on a baking sheet until ready to cook.
5. Heat the bacon fat that remained in the skillet. If none is left, add 2 more TBSP of butter to the skillet and let melt until bubbly. Turn heat to high and add liver, in batches. Cook approximately 3 minutes per side. If you like it more well done, adjust the timing.
6. Remove the cooked liver to a platter and keep warm. Keeping the flame on medium high, add the onions and bacon and stir. Turn the flame to high and add the vinegar. Let it cook down for 5 minutes, stirring.
7. Pour the onion and bacon mixture on top of the liver and serve.