Pan-Seared Calf’s Liver with Bacon Lentils, Sautéed Greens and Caramelized Onion-Balsamic-Vinegar Sauce

Serves 4 Liver with onions is an oldie but goodie – and for good reason. The affinity for one another is hard to deny. Here, with the addition of a few other tasty supporting characters, you have a healthy and delicious dish that’s worth a try if you’ve never eaten liver. Yes, it can be considered an acquired taste, as the flavor of the meat can be fairly assertive – but with a few tricks, perhaps much less so.


  • 1-1/2 lbs. Liver, trimmed of all silver skin and veining, sliced
  • As needed: Whole Milk, to cover
  • 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1 Sweet Onion, large, julienne
  • To taste: Kosher or Sea Salt and Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 cups Balsamic Vinegar, reduced to 1 cup
  • 1 tsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/4 lb. Bacon, diced
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup Beluga or Green Lentils
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups Swiss Chard, Kale or Bok Choy (leaves only), blanched, shocked and drained
  • To taste: Kosher or Sea Salt and Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • To taste: Kosher or Sea Salt and Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter


  1. Soak liver in milk overnight.
  2. In a large sauté pan, warm 2 Tbsp. Canola oil over medium heat. Cook onions until clear, lightly browned and not mushy (do not burn). Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add reduced balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and seat aside.
  3. In a small pot, render bacon in 1 tsp. Canola oil until just brown. Pour off half the fat. Add shallots and lightly cook. Add lentils and stir to toast for 1 min. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and lentils are just tender. Hold warm.
  4. Preheat a large, nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. Canola oil and heat through. Add garlic, swirl and cook quickly. Immediately add greens and toss to combine. Heat through, then season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a bowl and keep warm.
  5. Wipe out pan and heat again over high heat. Add final 2 Tbsp. Canola oil to the pan and heat through. Remove liver from milk; discard milk and pat liver dry. Season liver with salt and pepper. Carefully add liver to pan and sear until golden brown, approx. 1-1/2 min. Flip and repeat. (The meat should still bounce a bit when pressed.)
  6. To serve, spoon lentils onto warmed plates. Place sautéed greens over lentils. Lay seared liver over lentils. Pour the onions and balsamic into the still-warm liver pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and swirl in butter, then spoon sauce over liver and serve.

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