This is one of those recipes that you think will be incredibly difficult. Have you ever made something where once you get everything around and ready, you prepare yourself for this incredibly arduous task, but when it goes down, you are done before you know it? Chicken liver mousse is that task and, after spending most of a day last weekend making testa, it was needed.
I have been looking through some great “meat” cookbooks for a recipe and I found little. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of “The River Cottage Meat Book” talks about how he avoids Chicken Livers since liver is a filter for all of the terrible stuff fed to retail chickens. I took this advice and got some livers from a butcher that I trust. The recipe that I started with was from Portland chef, Naomi Pomeroy.
I started reading about Pomeroy after doing a search for a book that I was looking for turned up on her favorite list and it ends up that one of the dishes that Pomeroy is famous for is her chicken liver pate. Her restaurant in Portland, Beast, has become one of the restaurants that I am looking forward to visiting once life settles down. Her recipe includes just a few ingredients and techniques that pretty much anyone has already undertaken. Not to mention that the total cost of ingredients was less than $2 to make two small crocks of this mouse.
The trick is to get everything ready before hand and be able to count to thirty. Given my background as a mathematician, the latter came naturally and the former has been something that I have been working at to make some of the more intricate recipes much easier.
After drying the livers completely using paper towels, season them with the salt, pink salt, and pepper. Saute the livers in hot butter until medium rare in the middle and browned on the outside. Then add the minced shallots and grated apples and brown completely and remove quickly from the heat and into a blender with the livers. Deglaze the pan quickly with the cognac. It should only take seconds and then add this to the melted butter.
Blend thoroughly and once somewhat smooth, add the butter and deglazing cognac while the blender whirls. Pour the mixture into a sieve and press through with the back of a spoon. The mixture should be smooth and resemble a melted chocolate shake in appearance and texture. Taste and reseason, if needed. Once the mousse has been poured into crocks and refrigerated, the texture will firm up.
The finished product is an incomparably smooth liver mousse. The liver taste is strong, but not overwhelming. A light, sweet note comes from apple and cognac additions. My first crack at the mousse ended with me scrubbing the inside of the crock with baguette not long after pouring a bottle’s final glass of gruner veltliner. My biggest mistake was making a small batch.
Chicken Liver Mousse
Adapted from recipe from Naomi Pomeroy.
- 1/2 pound chicken livers, cleaned
- 1 stick melted unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for cooking
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/2 granny smith apple, grated
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch of pink salt
Step one: Clean and dry livers. Remove any fatty or dark bits. Season with salt, pepper, and pink salt.
Step two: Heat tablespoon of butter in skillet until very hot. Add livers and cook for 30 seconds per side. Remove livers to a plate.
Step three: Add apple and shallot to pan and heat for 1 minute until brown.
Step four: Deglaze pan with cognac.
Step five: Melt butter and add cognac to butter.
Step six: Add shallot and apple to livers in a blender and blend thoroughly. Add butter/cognac mixture during blending process. Blend for 45 seconds.
Step seven: Pass blended mixture through a fine sieve and refrigerate overnight.
Serve on crusty, toasted bread or on crackers.