serves: 4 servings
When searing meats or fish, the size of the skillet is important. A roomy skillet will retain more heat after you add things to it, and will climb back to searing temperature much more quickly than a smaller skillet. Once you put the slices of liver in the pan, let them sit undisturbed, giving them a chance to form a caramelized crust. If you like your liver rare or medium-rare as I do, the second side should always cook less-about half the time--of the first. If you like more well-done meats, reduce the heat under the pan after you have flipped the meat over to prevent it from scorching, then cook it to your likeness.
Salt draws liquids and juices from meats and that is why I season the liver after it is cooked.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large white onions, cut into 1/2-inch strips (about 3 1/2 cups)
6 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 slices fresh calfs liver, each about 6 ounces and 3/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bay leaves, season generously with salt and cook, stirring often, until golden but still firm, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the vinegar over, stir until evaporated, and continue cooking until the onions are deep golden brown, glossy and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove any skin and membranes from the liver. Pat the liver dry with paper towels, then toss the pieces gently in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil.
Heat a heavy skillet wide enough to hold all the pieces of liver without touching over medium-high. (A well-seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet is ideal. If you don't have a skillet wide enough, cook the liver in two batches.) Lay the liver pieces into the pan and let them cook undisturbed, until caramelized on the underside, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the liver steaks over and cook about 2 minutes for rare liver, longer for more well-done liver. (If you're cooking the liver longer, lower the heat so the liver doesn't scorch.) Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the liver with salt and transfer to warm plates. Toss the ground pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil with the browned onions. Pluck out the bay leaves and spoon the onions on top of the liver steaks.