Italian Regional Recipes Secondi Piatti: Meat, Fish, Eggs, Cheese

Liver with Onions Venice-style

One of the most typical recipes of Venetian cuisine and in particular, as the name implies, of the city of Venice.

Tradition wants pork’s liver, it has a strong taste and smell, even if nowadays is most used veal’s liver, which is more delicate.

The onions used in this dish are not the yellow ones, not even the red ones and no shallot at all.

Only white onions and they are cut into strips, not diced.

Venetian tradition strictly calls for Chioggia’s white onions. Chioggia is an Italian municipality part of the city of Venice and is also known as ‘little Venice’.
The onions of Chioggia are mainly used in marinating called “in Saor” in Venetian dialect, i.e. fish marinated with oil, vinegar and abundant onion.

Worry not, we do not ask you to go up to Chioggia, simple white onions will be perfect!

Cooking liver along with a sweet side dish is a method that was already known by the ancient Romans who served it together with figs. Venetians replaced the figs with the onions over time, making this recipe one of the most appreciated in the Venetian cuisine.

Serves 4, Preparation time 10 mins, Cooking time 25-30 mins

  • Pork liver or Veal liver, 500 g
  • White onions medium-sized, 2
  • Water, to taste
  • Winegar, a tablespoon, or dry white wine – enough to blend
  • Evoo – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Unsalted butter, 30 g
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh sage leaves, a couple – optional


: About liver cooking, the first tip to follow is to avoid avoiding excessively long cooking : the particular consistency of the liver, so soft and tender from raw, would tend to harden excessively with a too much long cooking.
When you buy the liver and the offals in general, freshness is essential, look for the liver with a bright bloody brown-red color, which is shiny and not dry to the eye.

And please, don’t rinse the liver under the running water before cooking it…

Cut the onions into thin slices – do not chop them.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan along with the butter, add onion slices and let them brown in the pan over low heat and stir occasionally.

Tips: to prevent them from drying out, you can add a bit of water, not too much anyway: they should not be brothy, just soft.

As soon as they are slightly soft, turn up the heat and pour a tablespoon of winegar, let it evaporate for at least 2 or 3 minutes and then reduce the heat and continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Now add liver strips to the pan with the onions. If you want you can also add some leaves of sage. Cook a few minutes on each side.

Tips: mind to this phase because, as explained at the beginning of the recipe, the cooking of the liver must be fast, no more than 5 minutes.

Once ready, season with salt and pepper and serve the dish immediately.

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