Mention liver as a food, and the reaction you’ll invariable get is Aaak! Ugh! Yuck! Liver does that to people. In our family, we loved liver. Still do. Maybe it’s a Rican thing and, yes, in certain circles liver is considered a delicacy. And I’m not talking about Hannibal Lecter lovingly describe how he ate a human liver with fava beans and Chianti. I mean other methods: in classical French cuisine liver pate and foi gras are at the top of the food pantheon. Plus, chicken livers and onion has always been a standby in English cooking. Our family’s humble contribution is Higado al Sartén. In Spanish, sartén translates as “frying-pan.” Rather than terming it “Frying Pan Liver” we translate it, roughly, as “Sautéed Liver.”
When my mom cooked this dish, it was always with either calf’s liver or lamb liver. We never tried it with beef liver, so I wouldn’t know how that would turn out. And we served it (because my father insisted) with rice, preferably yellow rice. But you can elect to have it with mashed potatoes or, as I did this time around, with boiled potato chunks drizzled with olive oil.
The other thing to note about liver is a wine matchup. Liver is notorious in this respect. No matter what animal it comes from, liver is gamy, and it renders a unique flavor. Experts in the field (if you believe experts) usually recommend a good Italian red like a Rosso di Montalcino, if you can find it. Others recommend Pinot Noir or Burgundy. My experience has been that a French Syrah, or Shiraz from Down Under, makes a perfect match. We had this dish with a Shiraz from South Eastern Australia (Dark Corner Durif Shiraz 2016), and it was just right.
HIGADO AL SARTÉN
8 whole black pepppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound lamb or calf’s liver
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
- In a mortar, crush peppercorns, garlic, oregano, and salt.
- In a medium saucepan, place liver in water to cover along with lime juice. Bring to a rapid boil. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then cut into thin slices.
- Mix crushed seasonings inside a zip-lock bag along with the flour. Add liver slices, and thoroughly coat the liver with the flour mixture.
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add liver (shaking off excess flour) and sauté until firm (but not hard) and browned on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on absorbent paper towels, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.