A mild, tender, rich and savory dish prepared in a classical French meets modern shortcuts manner.
Start with very fresh slices of peeled and deveined calves’ liver obtained from a healthy animal of known origin. True calves’ liver is paler in color and milder in taste than the much redder baby beef liver typically found in US supermarkets. If using the latter, it often helps to soak the slices in fresh, whole milk for up to 2 hours to lessen the strong flavor.
“Calf’s liver is less likely to have the accumulations of toxins such as pesticides, hormones and antibiotics found in the liver of older animals. Selecting organic calf’s liver provides the greatest assurance that the liver is free of these toxins. Calf’s liver also is more tender and has better flavor than beef liver (including baby beef liver).”
For the sauce, gather mushrooms, green peppercorns, vinegar, tomato paste, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, butter, lemon, stock and (optionally) demi-glace.
Sauté the mirepoix in butter until well colored, about 10 minutes. Add a good spoonful of tomato paste and continue to cook until all moisture is evaporated and the tomato begins to brown. Moisten with a splash of vinegar and a little sherry and stir to combine.
Add stock and a mashed clove of garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until reduced in volume by half, about 45 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan and add demi-glace. Simmer until thickened and shiny, about 20 minutes.
Sauté thinly sliced mushrooms and onions in very hot butter until brown and slightly crisp. Add to the pan with the brown sauce.
Pat the liver dry and lightly dredge in unbleached flour. Sauté quickly in a generous amount very hot butter, turning only once. Add chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavor before saucing.
A big thanks to my son-in-law Jeff, whose amazingly delicious liver & onions revived my interest in this classic dish!
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