Calves’ Liver with Onions and Deep-Fried Sage

Calves’ liver is the finest and most expensive offal. Much of what is sold, however, comes from box-reared, liquid-fed veal calves from Holland. You may want to speak to your butcher about obtaining liver from animals raised in less ghastly circumstances. Expect to pay a premium.


  • 900 g/ 2 lb onions
  • 85 g/ 3 oz butter
  • oil for deep-frying
  • 500 g/ 1 lb2 oz calves’ liver, cut into 4 slices
  • flour, for dusting
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 2–3 tbsp jellied chicken stock
  • 8–12 sage leaves


Slice the onions into thin rings. Melt 60 g/ 2 oz of the butter in a large heavy pan or casserole over a low heat, add the onions and stir. Sweat the onions slowly for about 20 minutes. You want to get as much moisture out of them while taking them to the point where they are soft and translucent.

Turn up the heat to moderate and fry the onions until nicely brown, but do not take them too far or they will burn and go bitter.

Preheat the oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F. Carefully remove any tubes or threads from the liver, then coat the slices lightly in seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a large sauté pan over a moderate heat. When smoking hot, add the oil, then 30 g/ ½ oz of the butter and immediately lay in the slices of liver. Cook for 2 minutes then turn and cook for 60 seconds more. Remove the liver and sit the slices atop a mound of fried onions on a warmed serving plate.

Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with the sherry, scraping and stirring. Add the jellied chicken stock and bubble through, then swirl in the remaining butter. Pour over the liver.

Plunge the sage leaves in the hot oil for 60 seconds until crisp. Drain on paper towels, scatter over the liver and serve at once.