Saturday, 25 January 2014

Fire & Iron

Fegato alla Griglia, Cavolo in Agrodolce & Puré di Patate
Grilled Liver with a Red Wine & Lemon Salmoriglio, with Sweet & Sour Lemon & Ginger Collard Greens and Mashed Potato

Both liver and greens are tasty foods with a great deal of healthy iron in them- and yet, indeed, both liver and greens are foods that so many people dislike... the world is such a crazy place! Obviously, hardly anybody eats liver on a regular basis, but every now and again I real like to revisit this old favorite of mine- especially if I can do something different and fun with it!

After chatting with my mother today and reminiscing about meals from many moons ago, when she mentioned grilled liver I got more than a little nostalgic and decided to do just that this evening for supper... but first- I needed to get to the market hall for the rest of my goodies for the week...

I always get some kind of green or other and got more than a little excited when I discovered canned Callaloo at Mrs Wong's stand at the market. I love that mildly bitter taste that has so much more character than regular spinach... but just couldn't bring myself to buy it in a can. Uh-uh! Beans or tomatoes- no problem... but anything else- Problem!

So I mentioned this to her and was a little disappointed that she wasn't familiar with it or able to supply it in fresh... but pretty thrilled to hear that she had collard greens there- fresh from the garden! Now that was more like it! Also something well-loved in the South and also a favorite of mine- bring on those bitter greens! 
But as with the liver- what I say is- let's do something just a little different with them! 

I decided to do a quicker, lighter and fresher version of collard's than the usual boiled-to death and enriched with onion, garlic and bacon classic- though that's a pretty tough act to follow! But today, I decided to to a citrus flavored preparation, using lemon zest, and to give it a little more pizzaz by adding fresh ginger and some mild, fresh peperoncino into the mix- as you can see in the image above. 

The greens you see were 6 leaves, from which I removed the tough stalks and then cut into strips. To these I added the zest of half a lemon, blanched in boiling water and then cut into thin strips and about 7-8 thin slices of fresh ginger. Thankfully, Mr's Wong had the chili peppers marked as "mild"- which saved me risking life and limb- so I added about a third of one of those too, cut into thin slices and without the seeds. 

These all went into a frying pan, with just a little water and a good pinch of salt, with the lid on, for 3-4 minutes. After that time, the greens had already wilted down considerably. At that point I added the juice of half of the lemon, a little crushed garlic and a drizzle of live oil. I tossed the greens through, replaced the lid and let them continue cooking for a further 5-6 minutes, whilst I prepared the "Salmoriglio" to go with the liver...

This is a typical Sicilian dressing for grilled meat, fish or poultry and is usually nothing more than the combination of olive oil, vinegar (usually red wine vinegar) and oregano- which although it sounds and indeed IS very simple, is just such a wonderful condiment and very much the taste of meat from the grill in Southern Italy and Sicily.

Today I decided to add a little finely chopped parsley to mine and to use red wine and lemon juice, to make a slightly milder version. So, to make a nice, generous amount for my single serving of liver, I combined the juice of half a lemon, with the same amount of olive oil and twice the amount of red wine. I added a tablespoon of dried oregano and about the same amount of fresh, finely chopped parsley. A little salt, a little pepper, a little stir- and that was my dressing ready!

So now it was time to get my grill pan nice and hot and start having fun with that liver! I made sure the pan was hot and then added a little olive oil and as soon as began to sizzle around the tip of my tongs, in went the liver! I let it sit still and pressed down a little, so as to get a nice touch of scorching going on, but otherwise let it be for 2-3 minutes, before flipping it over, pressing it down well and continuing with frying.

After around 5 minutes, the liver began to give off juices, or (without wanting to sound icky!), blood. This is when you know you are getting close... and one thing you definitely don't want to do is to over-cook liver and let it become tough! Another way to do this is by adding salt during cooking- NEVER do that! That is actually rule number one with liver- you always add the seasoning at the end!

After 4-5 minutes of frying from each side, I began to spoon-over the salmoriglio, which of course made the pan hiss and steam and this of course in turn ensured that all of the good flavors were immediately absorbed by the liver... which is all good stuff!

The last thing I needed to do with the greens was to add a little honey- just a tablespoon or so, and to stir them through nicely- this went to reduce the bitterness of the greens and the sourness of the lemon- and the result was just delicious!

I served up the greens and the liver on a bed of regular mashed potatoes- and spooned plenty more of the red wine and lemon salmoriglio on top... it went so wonderfully with those potatoes as well- I can't begin to tell you! So I will stop telling you anything at all and recommend that you try this out and find out for yourselves... and I will hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!


  1. Looks delicious, Francesco. I really like liver but since it's controversial around our house I don't get to cook it as often as I'd like. And the samoriglio sounds like just the thing to balance out its richness.

  2. I hear you Frank... I know a lot of people don't like liver, although I sometimes think they don't like the THOUGHT of liver... It is the same way with me and fish and it always depends on how it is prepared. I would seldom choose a fish dish over a vegetable or meat one... But there are exceptions. As with most things in life, but most definitely with food... It is all a matter of taste! And yes, the salmoriglio makes all the difference here :-) Glad you approve in any case! Best wishes, Francesco