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Fegato alla Veneziana is Venice’s signature dish. We explore the recipe and its origins.
Venetian cuisine is primarily fish based, but the typical dishes to try in a restaurant on the Lagoon also include some meat specialties, like the famous Fegato alla Veneziana. This is very tender calves’ liver, cut into little pieces and fried with onion, oil and butter.
The origins of this dish are very ancient, dating back as far as the Romans, who cooked liver with figs to disguise its rather pungent natural aroma. Venetians later replaced figs with onions, making this one of the most popular dishes in Venetian cuisine. In general the Venetians have always had a penchant for liver in their traditional recipes: one example is liver, or peverada, sauce prepared with chicken livers.
In Fegato alla Veneziana (also known as fegato alla sbrodega), there are essentially two main ingredients: calves’ liver- although traditionally pigs’ liver was used - and white onions from Chioggia. This type of onion is found in the lagoon and surrounding areas, and it is essential to give the dish a really sweet flavour, which combines perfectly with the strong, bold flavour of the liver.
In addition to the two basic ingredients, butter, extra virgin olive oil, parsley and vinegar are vital for the success of the dish. Some replace vinegar with white wine or lemon, although traditionally there is no question: the original recipe used vinegar and vinegar alone!