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Seared Calves Liver with Tarragon-Lemon Sauce

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2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 calves’ liver steaks, each about 3/8 inch thick and 5 ounces (about 1 1/4 pounds total), cleaned of skin and as many sinews as possible
Tarragon-Lemon Sauce:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
2 scallions, trimmed and finely minced (1/4 cup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon


Jacques Pépin likes calves’ liver medium-rare and this is reflected in the cooking time in the recipe, but you can adjust the cooking time to your taste.

  • Heat the butter and oil until hot in one very large (12-inch) or two smaller (8-inch) skillets.
  • Sprinkle the salt and pepper on both sides of the liver steaks, and place them in the skillet(s) in one layer with no overlap.
  • Sauté the steaks over high heat for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side for medium-rare (adjust the cooking time if your liver is thicker or thinner, or if you like it cooked more or less).
  • Transfer the steaks to a plate, and cover them with an overturned plate. (They can wait like this for 10 to 15 minutes, while you prepare the sauce.)

For The Tarragon-Lemon Sauce:

  • Add the onion and scallions to the drippings in the skillet(s). Sauté for about 20 seconds, then add the lemon juice, and stir until all the solidified juices have melted.
  • If you are using two skillets, at this point, combine their contents in one, and boil the mixture for another 20 seconds, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add the water, the capers, and the tarragon, mix well, and bring to a boil.

To serve:

  • Arrange the liver steaks on individual plates, top with the tarragon-lemon sauce, and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Recipe Courtesy of Jacques Pépin's Table, KQED Books & Tapes, 1995 Brought -
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