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Calf’s Liver with Balsamic Vinegar Recipe

Course: Main Course
Total Time: Under 1 Hour
Skill Level: Challenging
Cost: Moderate
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 Calf’s Liver with Balsamic Vinegar

Photo by: Joseph De Leo

I’ve cooked calf’s liver with vinegar as long as I can remember, but I didn’t discover balsamic vinegar, a specialty of Modena, until about twenty-five years ago. I’ve experimented with this cask-mellowed, highly concentrated essence ever since, and have learned a great deal about its properties and uses from two Modenese, Gianni Salvaterra and Marta Pulini. Really fine balsamic vinegar, aged in wood for many years, can be more expensive than some of the great vintage wines, but a little goes a long way and the results are worth the splurge.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds calf’s liver
  • 1 pound white onions
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 5 tablespoon vegetable oil


Trim the liver of its outer covering, blood vessels, and any blemishes. Pat dry, cut in julienne strips (2” x ½” x ½”), and set aside.

Slice the onions thin, working with the grain. In a nonreactive skillet, melt the sugar until it caramelizes, add the onions and bay leaves, and mix well. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the salt and pepper, and sauté over moderately high heat until the onions are golden brown but not limp. Stir in the flour, blending well, add the vinegar and wine, and simmer about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, in a skillet large enough to hold the strips of liver in a single layer (use two pans if necessary), heat the vegetable oil, add the liver, and sauté, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, drain the liver and transfer it to the sauce, tossing gently until well coated, about 1 minute. The sauce should be quite adhesive, not runny.

Serve immediately with boiled or fried polenta. 

© 1990 Lidia Bastianich and Jay Jacobs

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

425kcal (21%)
31mg (3%)
7mg (12%)
7419mcg RAE (247%)
411mg (137%)
305mg (13%)
4g (18%)
24g (37%)
8mg (43%)

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