One of the things I looked forward to most during my European Peace Walk through Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy was exploring local cuisine, delighting at the newly discovered variety and novelty. The obverse of course is also, unfortunately, true. Ill-prepared, bland tourist fodder or the ubiquitous pizza or kebab, usually on offer in the same low-grade style cafe – sometimes the only thing available in villages along the route of my walk – so I congratulated myself when, after a fairly gruelling walk of 30k plus, I arrived in Postojna in south-western Slovenia and looked forward to a good meal.
A lusty male choir in the chilly town square made sitting on the outdoor terrace of Hotel Kras unattractive and there were no seats in the bustling, brightly lit restaurant inside, but the waitress recommended another restaurant a few hundred metres away but, when I arrived, it was another pizza restaurant and it was closed.
Hunger began to make the prospect of a kebab seem feasible especially as a light rain started. A policeman mentioned a restaurant in the “red house” on the far side of the square but that too seemed to be closed as there were no lights on. Despairing, I walked around to the car park at the back and there was a lighted staircase leading to a basement restaurant, bright, warm and cheery inside.
There was an English menu and the chef’s specialty was braised liver in red wine. No hesitation here, a bottle of red wine – the waiter’s recommendation – and a starter of stuffed wild mushrooms in a nutty sauce and a delicious, rich dish of tender liver slivers, still pink inside.
I have distinct – and delicious – childhood memories of liver with creamed spuds and baked beans but since then I seem to have skipped over offal themed meals, although there was that fantastic liver, bacon and onion dish in the Serasa Yacht Club but that was in another lifetime and a different century! Anyway, inspired by my Slovenian meal, here is my take on liver, for what it is worth.
200 g lamb liver 1 onion, cut in rings
3/4 tsp whole black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp flour
1 tsp oil
good splash of medium dry sherry
splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1.Crush the peppercorns and mix with the flour and mustard powder.
2. Heat oil and fry the onion rings for about 10 minutes until brown at the edges. Remove from heat.
Some recommend steeping the liver in milk before flash frying. I tried both steeping and non-steeping with no appreciable difference.
3. Quickly fry the liver, sliced finger thick. When spots of blood begins to appear, flip them over. They should still be slightly pink inside.
4. Add to the onion.
5. Stir the flour, pepper, and mustard into pan. Soak up all the juices and then add sherry, followed by the Worcestershire and the lemon juice. Thin with more sherry, if necessary.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over liver and onion. Serve with creamed spuds.
Sadly, plating a dish was never my forté but trust me, it tastes better than my photos look!