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Liver scores high in nutrition

Years ago when I was a restaurant chef, nutrition was not foremost on my mind. My generation strove for flavor, texture and appearance but not necessarily the best blend of vitamins and minerals. We promoted balanced meals, but balance was based largely on our instincts and traditions.

That has changed dramatically, but many dishes that we were serving in the 1940s and '50s get high grades on the nutritional scale today.

Take, for example, calf's liver. It is one of the better sources of iron, calcium, vitamins A, D, E and K and all the B vitamins. The only caveat is that all liver is relatively high in cholesterol, so those on a restricted diet should eat it only occasionally.

In Europe and the Middle East, a great deal of lamb's liver is consumed. It can be delicious if the animal is slaughtered young. The same applies to calf's liver, which is much more delicate than beef liver.

A traditional French recipe is calf's liver lyonnaise, which involves sauteing slices of liver with onions, or a l'anglaise, made by combining it with onions, bacon and lemon juice.

A popular recipe in in Burgundy is calf's liver a la bourguignonne, in which slices of liver are sauteed in hot butter, and the pan is deglazed with red wine and veal stock.

When shopping for calf's liver, pick meat that is bright pink and has no dark spots on the surface. Kosher brands are usually the best.

This recipe is quick and delicious. Bacon is first cooked crisp, then drained. Thinly sliced calf's liver is then seasoned and browned. A quick sauce is made in the same pan with butter and Worcestershire sauce.

For color, try buttered asparagus and boiled red potatoes.

Sauteed Calf's Liver With Bacon

8 thick slices lean bacon

4 slices calf's liver, about 1{ pounds

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 tablespoons flour for dredging

2 tablespoons peanut, corn or vegetable oil

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley.

Cook the bacon, turning it as often as necessary, until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and keep warm.

Sprinkle the liver with salt and pepper and dredge it in flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the slices of liver in one layer. When hot, add the liver. Cook over medium-high heat until nicely browned, about 2 minutes on each side for medium rare.

Remove the liver to a warm plate and keep warm. Pour out the cooking oil, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and add the butter. Cook, shaking the skillet, until the butter starts to brown. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Pour the foaming butter mixture over the liver, sprinkle with parsley and garnish each serving with 2 slices of crisp bacon.

Yield: 4 servings.

Boiled Red Potatoes with Parsley

12 small red waxy potatoes

Salt to taste

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro)

Juice of { lemon

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Freshly ground pepper to taste.

Using a sharp knife, peel off some of the potato skin, leaving a band in the center for color.

Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the same saucepan. Add the cream, coriander, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and shake the saucepan to blend the ingredients. Cook for 1 minute. Serve with the liver.

Yield: 4 servings.

Buttered Asparagus

24 spears fresh asparagus

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Juice { lemon.

Cut off the white ends of the asparagus, about 3 inches from the bottom. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape the spears.

Put the asparagus, salt and enough water to cover the asparagus in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook the asparagus for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the spears; they should be tender but still crisp.

Drain the asparagus quickly, sprinkle with pepper and brush with butter. Add lemon juice and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.