Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian-style Liver)

As a lover of liver when it’s cooked just right, I adore it in the Venetian style. Rich, meaty liver and sweet, caramelised onions marry with white wine vinegar to create a wonderfully balanced dish. This is traditionally made with veal (calve’s) liver but we’ve also made the dish using lamb’s liver with great success.

This recipe is from Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice: Small Bites From the Lagoon City by Emiko Davies and, like the Mozzarella in Carrozza we shared yesterday, when we made this dish, it too transported us straight back to eating out in Venice.

Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian-style Liver)

Read our full review of Emiko Davies’ Cinnamon and Salt. to find out why it’s already a favourite book on our bookshelf.

Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian-style Liver)

This is a classic of Venice’s cuisine, and much loved throughout Italy. I was immediately drawn to the two recipes that Mariù Salvadori de Zuliani includes in her Venetian cookbook A Tola Co I Nostri Veci. One is a recipe from the year 1800 and she claims is the most authentic recipe for this classic dish, which doesn’t use either vinegar or wine, but lemon juice. The other recipe is her own family recipe and she adds that you can use wine – red, or even a sweet one like Marsala – to finish the dish. But some will use beef stock, others just white-wine vinegar. It is really about balancing the sweetness of the onions and liver with the acidity of the wine and vinegar and, to this end, I think the lemon wedges (for guests to adjust the acidity to taste themselves) are a must.
Author Emiko Davies

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) white onions, thinly sliced
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) veal liver, sliced into strips (see Note)
  • 80 ml (2½ fl oz/ ⅓ cup) white wine or white-wine vinegar
  • a few parsley sprigs, finely chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • creamy polenta, to serve

Recipe Notes

This is best made with very fresh veal liver, but if you can only find frozen liver, defrost it slowly by placing in the fridge overnight for best results.

Instructions

  • In a wide, shallow pan, heat the oil and butter together and begin cooking the onion over a low heat with a good pinch of salt until it is very soft, almost creamy, about 15 minutes. Add a splash of water to help the cooking without browning the onion. Add the liver, turn up the heat to medium–high and sear all sides briefly, adding salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour over the white wine, add another pinch of salt and continue cooking for 5 minutes. The liver should be cooked until slightly pink inside. Serve scattered with parsley and lemon wedges over a puddle of soft polenta.

We had lamb’s liver in the freezer which we defrosted overnight before using it for this recipe, and it worked wonderfully.

Venetian-style liver

 

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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice: Small Bites From the Lagoon City by Emiko Davies from publisher Hardie Grant. Book photography by Emiko Davies.

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