GRILLED CALF'S LIVER - Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Fegatelli di vitello
Preparation - Mediu
Prep: 10 - Cook: 30
In much of Italy, fegatelli means robust and delicious chunks of pork liver, wrapped in caul fat and threaded on skewers for grilling over live coals. At her tidy little restaurant in the heart of Lecce, Concetta Cantoro makes her fegatelli with more delicate calf's liver, an easier prospect for American cooks. Caul fat is the white lacy membrane that surrounds an animal's stomach. Specialty butchers or meat shops in Italian or Chinese neighborhoods often stock caul fat or are able to order it for you. It is essential in this preparation because the fat renders out while the meat cooks and keeps the liver from having the consistency of cardboard.
Grill, rack or skewers.
- 1/2 pound caul fat to wrap the liver (fatty bacon, maybe??)
- 1 pound fresh young calf's liver
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bay leaves
- CAUL fat should be soaked in tepid water for 10 minutes or so to make it more pliable. Simply set it in a bowl and cover with lukewarm tap water while you prepare the liver.
- IF necessary, peel away the thin outer membrane from the liver. Cut the liver in chunky rectangles about 1 inch by 2 inches, discarding the veiny sections. Sprinkle each chunk of liver with a light dusting of salt and pepper.
- DRAIN the caul fat and carefully unfold it. Cut pieces of caul fat large enough to wrap around each liver chunk in a single layer. Wrap the liver, tucking a little piece of bay leaf inside each packet. Sprinkle more salt and pepper on the outside and set on a rack for grilling; if you prefer, thread the chunks on skewers, separating each chunk with half a bay lea£
- FEGATELLI are best grilled over wood embers or charcoal, but an oven grill or broiler will do if you don't have access to live fire. If using wood or charcoal, start the fire at least 30 minutes in advance to build up a good bed of coals. If using an oven grill or broiler, preheat in sufficient time to make it really hot for cooking (you are the best judge of how long that will be) and set the rack so the meat will be at least 4 inches from the heat source.
- GRILL until the packets are crisp and brown on one side, then turn and grill the other. Be careful not to overcook-ideally the liver will be nicely browned on the outside and still a little pink in the middle. This should probably take 3 to 5 minutes for each side, but the time can vary depending on the nature of the heat you're using. As the liver chunks cook, the caul fat will melt.
- WHEN done, remove to a heated platter and serve immediately, with plenty of crusty country-style bread for sopping up the juices.
Flavors of Puglia
Nancy Harmon Jenkins