Fried and grilled calves liver with black olives

Fried and grilled calves liver with black olives

This is a liver dish that you may well enjoy even if you don’t like liver!  Better still it is one of those perfect dishes that comes about when something didn’t go according to plan in the cooking.  Here it was the ‘rescue’ that made the dish – and it is now a fixed part of the way we cook calves liver on the Big Green Egg.  As someone who likes liver in various forms I find it just a little strange that there are as many people who don’t like it as there are those of us who do.  And rather like with marmite, people don’t sit on the fences, but polarise into one camp or the other!  Don’t stop reading now though, this may just be the dish that wins you over if you are a doubter!

When it comes to liver, I have to admit that I am not at all fond of pigs or ox liver and like the much more gentle flavours of lambs liver and chicken liver.  When I can get it perhaps my favourite is calves liver.  I was delighted therefore at a butcher’s counter in Tuscany to come across a tray of fegatino di vetello.  The thing that really drew me to it was that it had been sliced so thinly, much more so than I have usually seen in the UK.  So with 2 pieces of calves liver safely in the bag it was off to start the cooking.

The plan was to use one of our handleless Tefal pans as a plancha on our Mini BGE.  As we’re in Italy and had some lovely black olives to hand we were going to cook the liver with the olives and serve with a green salad as a light lunch.   Well so far so good, but I made the cardinal error of adding a little too much olive oil to the pan and not really getting the pan hot enough for a ‘quick sear’ this was made worse by throwing in the black olives too.

The last thing we wanted was bland looking overcooked, almost braised liver.  The rescue was simple.  The pan was removed and the now cooked liver was put directly on to the very hot grill.  Charring and Grill lines appeared almost immediately!  When I have tried to put liver directly on the grill in the uncooked state it hasn’t worked and the liver has stuck to the grill bars – but this time success!!

All that was left to do was dress the salad, add the liver to the plate together with the warmed olives and the cooking juices from the pan.   The result was fabulous.  I had feared that the liver would have been hard and overcooked – but no it was soft, gentle and tasted wonderful.  The salty black olives proved to be just the perfect accompaniment for the calves liver.

This was a dish we did quite a few times in the period that we were away with some slight variations.  On one occasion we also sautéed some oyster mushrooms before starting the liver and added these with the black olives  at the plancha stage of the cooking – this was lovely too especially served with some aubergine relish.  Whist these variations worked well I still rather warm to the simplicity of the original dish.

Whilst cooking the liver in 2 stages takes a little longer, when working on the restricted size of a 10 inch grill as on the Mini BGE it is helpful in timing the meal.  The final grilling of the liver can be done as everyone arrives at the table with some lovely grill marks on the meat.  The other ingredients can be cooked a little earlier and kept warm from the heat of the plancha ready to serve.

………………… do  give it a go !




Fried and Grilled Calves liver with Black Olives

October 18, 2019
: 2
: 5 min
: 10 min
: 15 min
: Easy

Calves liver fried and then grilled - served with warmed black olives


  • Finely slices calves liver
  • Handful stoned black olives
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking with the stainless steel grill in place.
  • Step 2 In a handless pan or on a plancha add some olive oil and put on top of the grill. Before the pan gets too hot add the liver and allow to cook gently for about 1 minute or so. Turn the liver and add the olives. Cook for a further minute.
  • Step 3 Remove the pan or plancha and place the cooked liver directly on the grill until they take on some colour and grill marks
  • Step 4 Serve straight away with a green salad and the warmed olives and cooking oil




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