Fegato alla Veneziana (Liver and Onions)

A school dinner nightmare becomes fabulously tasty food, as interpreted by the Italians and given his own twist by Ross Burden
By Ross Burden
Fegato alla Veneziana (Liver and Onions)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • about 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for deep-frying
  • 350 g onions, (2-3 large)thinly sliced
  • about 50g sage leaves
  • 450-550g calves' liver, any membrane and tubes removed and cut into 5-6mm slices
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 50 g pancetta
  • made polenta, to serve


1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion over a low heat for at least 20 minutes, by which time they should be slightly coloured and have become mushy, with the excess liquid evaporated. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon, leaving any oil in the pan.

2. While the onions are cooking, heat olive oil for deep-frying in a deep saucepan and deep-fry the sage leaves, a few at a time, until nicely crisped but not browned - they need only 15-20 seconds. Drain on paper towel.

3. Preheat a hot grill. Make the oil remaining in the frying pan up to about 2 tablespoons and heat it to a very high temperature. When it is almost smoking, add the liver, without crowding the pan, as this will make the meat stew, so you may have to cook in batches or use two pans.

4. Once the liver is browned, turn it over and when it is coloured on the other side, transfer to a warmed plate and keep warm. Do NOT overcook.

5. Tip off excess fat from the pan and deglaze the pan with the wine over a high heat, scraping up any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan, and reduce slightly.

6. Meanwhile, grill the pancetta slices until stiff and crisp.

7. To serve, divide the caramelised onions between the plates, and do the same with the liver. Season the wine gravy to taste and pour over the liver. Lean the pancetta against the liver, place a large spoonful of wet polenta next to the liver and scatter with the deep-fried sage leaves.

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