Calf’s Liver With Onions and Brown Butter

Serves 3 or 4

Like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, I find liver and onions comforting when I am in a “whiny” mood. I have used both calf ’s and beef liver for this, as I enjoy the flavor of both. Most people, however, prefer the milder flavor of calf’s liver. It is usually sold presliced in the package. Soak beef liver in milk for half an hour or so to tone down the strong flavor. Drain, rinse and dry before proceeding. The onions may be cooked up to several days in advance.

Nathalie Dupree


1⁄2 cup butter, cut into tablespoons, divided

2 to 3 onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon oil, cook’s preference


Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 slices calf’s liver (about 1 pound), each about 1⁄4-inch thick

1⁄4 cup red wine, sherry, or cider vinegar


Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonaluminum or iron frying pan. Add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low to medium heat until they are very soft and lightly colored, about 20 to 30 minutes. This may be done in advance.

Heat another tablespoon of butter and the oil in another skillet. Add a little salt and pepper to the flour on a large plate.

Meanwhile, cut the liver into 1⁄2-inch slices. Using one hand, to keep the other clean and free for turning the meat, lightly dredge the liver slices in the flour, shake off excess, and add to the hot pan in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan.

Cook 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, until brown and slightly crisp. Turn and quickly brown the other side. Cooking time will vary, depending on the thickness of the meat. Move the cooked liver to a plate.

Pour off or remove excess grease from the pan. Add the vinegar to the skillet, bring to the boil, stirring any juices into the vinegar, and cook to reduce slightly. Pour over the warm onions. Wipe out pan with paper towels.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan and cook carefully until it turns a nutty brown. Arrange the liver on the platter, pile on the onions, and drizzle them with the brown butter.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of 13 cookbooks, most recently “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through