Liver and red wine tomato sauce

Last April, we took our clients to Spaghetti Western. One of my colleagues ordered the special — a pasta with liver and red wine tomato sauce. I was intrigued. He asked if I wanted to taste it. I did want to, and so I did taste it.


I go to Spaghetti Western often, but I’ve never seen it on the menu again. The taste has been haunting me. I’ve thought about trying to replicate it , and earlier this week I decided that today would be the day. While I was at the market, I bought some chicken livers (dirt cheap), parsley and fresh tomatoes. I knew I had onions and garlic at home. I popped into the Spätkauf next door for a bottle of Merlot.

Mmm … bright red tomatoes

Liver demands to be cooked in butter, so good thing that yesterday I impulse-bought French salted butter. (Mmm … salted butter from France … )

I love my butter salted. I thought that made me uncouth, but if the French do it must be posh, right?

I was going to wing it, but decided just now that I should consult the internet. The first recipe I found is exactly what I would have done. I’m awesome.

Well, almost. The recipe I found does not call for red wine. Prolly cuz the person who wrote it is not as awesome as me. Time for the experiment to begin.

Me again, in the future

(which for me is the present but is actually your past)

I give up. By that I mean that the recipe to follow is enough to serve two. Even with my gluttony I was forced to stop eating because I was too full. I look forward to the moment a few hours from now when I am hungry again so I can eat the rest.

Without further ado, here — presented in the imperative — is what I did:

For the sauce:

  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat
  • Add one minced onion and two minced cloves of garlic
  • Reduce heat to low and cook until wilted, 5 to 10 minutes
  • Add 3 chopped tomatoes, a half a cup of red wine, and some chopped parsley
  • If you have it, squeeze in a tablespoon or so of tomato paste
  • Season to taste, and give it a good stir
  • Bring to high heat until the wine simmers, then reduce to low again
  • Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Maybe longer. I lost track of time after my first glass of wine.
Yes, I needed a mandoline and two knives for this task.

You will want to start prepping the liver and pasta about 20 minutes after you started the sauce simmering. I chose to have egg noodles that take 8 minutes to boil.

Raw liver is beautiful, in its own way. Chicken liver gleams and sags like a pile of soft rubies. It looks like what it is: internal organs, and yet, to the hungry cook, it is gorgeous.

– Me

While the pasta cooks, slice 200g of chicken livers into 1/2 inch chunks. Over medium heat heat, melt a generous tablespoon of salted butter. Let it foam and subside*. Add the liver, and crank up the heat. Let the pieces brown on one side, and then flip to brown the other side. The whole browning process should take about 2 to 4 minutes.

If you have timed everything just so, the pasta should be finished while the liver sautés. Add the drained pasta to the sauce pan, and stir to coat the sauce on the pasta. Gently stir in about half of the liver. Place onto serving plates, and pile the last of the liver on top of the pasta.

Shown with half the liver. I decided after I took the photo that I wanted all of it.

Garnish with more parsley. Serve with bread and more of that outrageously good French salted butter. Enjoy with more wine.

Serves two.

* This phrase “let it foam and subside” is a paraphrase from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, which has the perfect recipe for calf’s liver and onions in the chapter titled blood & guts.

2 thoughts on “Liver and red wine tomato sauce

  1. Oooo! This is exciting! It sounds like something I can do. 🙂 PLUS, I’ll have a bottle-minus-half-a-cup of wine to keep me company.


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