Mark Bittman is exasperating. Sure, as his bestselling cookbook implies, he knows how to cook everything, but he often cooks like a novice.
Here he demonstrates once again that his minimalist approach is grounded in inferior cooking technique.
He makes chicken liver pate and en route tries to saute onions in a cold pan, then adds the livers to, he alleges, "cook them quickly."
There are so many things wrong here I don't know where to start. Okay I'll start with the pan: it should be hot before, not after, adding the fat (in this case butter). The livers should be sauteed before the onions to assure even browning -which is not achievable with water (from the onions) in the pan. After the livers are browned, the pan should be deglazed with wine or cognac and the "fond" poured over the livers.
Next the pan is returned to the fire, more fat is added, the onions sauteed then combined with the livers. Of course, if there is any glace (glaze) aka fond in the pan from cooking the onions it should be deglazed and added to the liver and onion mix.
I don't know, I'm sure he's a nice guy and I don't want to be in the business of running a total stranger's reputation into the mud. But when I
seen see someone this technically challenged passing themselves off as an "expert," it makes my hair stand up. I assume that his self-satirizing approach (as evidenced by Zen of cooking disciple introit) is meant to soften criticism of his mostly careless approach to execution of technique, but I'm not so sure that the bulk of his audience is aware of just how careless he can be.