• 6 tablespoons lard
  • 6 large onions (about 2 1/2 pounds), sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 bouquet garni (a tied bundle of 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, a dried bay leaf and 3 sprigs of fresh parsley)
  • 6 slices calf’s liver (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinager
  • Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper

Foie de veau Lyonnaise is basically thin slices of calf’s liver cooked quickly in very hot oil, then served with caramelized onions and a dash of vinegar.  But hold your groans my dear reader; while its preparation is deceptively similar to the liver and onions most of us remember from our youth, Foie de veau Lyonnaise is a delicious adventure into what is possible with all things French.

One of my assigned objectives when I took on this project was to introduce readers to all the new and unfamiliar ingredients – the meats, vegetables, fruits and grains from around the world – that mega marts across the country have put at our fingertips.  And, while I admit that calf’s liver is certainly nothing new, there is now an entire generation out there the great majority of which has never once considered that it might have a place on their table.  I’m not even sure to whom belongs the blame for this travesty because properly prepared, a fresh piece of calf’s liver is incomparably delicious.

Foie de Veau Lyonnaise involves very few steps and only 1 pan.  You caramelize onions in lard, set them aside and in the same pan, quickly fry thin slices of calf’s liver, deglaze (get the tasty bits off the bottom) the pan with a bit of chicken stock and serve.  The result is something saporous and almost lusty in flavor.  I assure you that this is a dish that once prepared in your home, will find its way back to your table again and again.

Let’s begin with the liver.  You want calf’s liver, not beef liver, and there is a difference.  Mature beef liver has a stronger flavor and the texture of older liver can be kind of “mushy” (for lack of a better description). Baby beef or calf’s liver has a firm texture and rich, almost buttery flavor.  You also want your liver sliced to about 1/4 inch in thickness.  Have your butcher do this for you and at the same time, ask him to remove the silver tissue which can be bitter.

Foie de veau Lyonnaise also calls for lard.  You can find lard along side the cans of shortening in any mega mart.  Lard adds a silkiness to the end result that you simply can not get from any other oil.


  1. Melt 4 tablespoons of lard in a heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid over low heat. Stir in the onions, garlic, sugar, the bouquet garni and a bit of salt to help the onions sweat. Press a piece of cooking foil down on the onions to retain their moisture. Cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid and foil and discard the bouquet garni. Turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté the onions, stirring constantly until they are caramelized and golden brown, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon or tongs, set aside and keep warm.
  3. Wipe any excess oil out of the pan.
  4. Pat dry the slices of liver on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Return the pan to the fire and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons lard over high heat until the lard is almost smoking (about 375 degrees). Add the liver and sauté until browned, about 90 seconds on each side. Do not overcook. Calf’s liver should be served pink in the center. Remove liver, set aside and keep warm.
  5. Add chicken broth to the hot pan stirring to dissolve the flavorful bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan and continue to reduce until nearly all the liquid is evaporated.  Add the vinegar, reduce for another minute and remove from heat.
  6. Place slices of liver on warmed plates, spoon the pan sauce over each, pile with caramelized onions and serve at once.