Chicken liver mousse always make me think of the sexy, cozy wine bar where I once worked in the West Village. I watched their mousse regularly provoke consummate liver-haters to clean the bowl with their fingers. Chicken liver mousse can do that; it's got everything going for it. It's creamy, fatty, savory, and puréed beyond recognition of anything anatomical.
Tom Mylan's version, from The Meat Hook Meat Book, is sure to twist some arms: a little funky, a little boozy, and rich enough to be dessert. Cream cheese, which I haven't seen very often in what is usually a very classic preparation, gives a lift of brightening tang. It is quick (though not 20-minutes quick) and simple to make, and will absolutely impress the guests who you better, for the sake of your arteries, invite over to help you enjoy this. And may I suggest a bottle of something sparkling?
Why I picked this recipe: It's the gateway dish for offal-eating and -cooking.
What worked: Easy and delicious—what more do you want?
What didn't: The name is a little misleading. It will definitely take you more than 20 minutes start to finish—in fact, more like an hour, once you wait for the cooked livers to cool.
Suggested tweaks: No tweaks, but I love Mylan's serving suggestions: "Serve with crusty bread, cornichons or a similarly delicious pickle, and mustard. Or with Ritz crackers. Or on Wonder Bread with grape jelly."
Excerpted from The Meat Hook Meat Book by Tom Mylan (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Michael Harlan Turkell. Illustrations by Kate Bonner.
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or chicken fat
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 oregano sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1/3 cup port or brandy
- 6 whole chicken livers (or 12 split pieces), about 1 1/2 pounds, cleaned and rinsed
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 2/3 cup very cold heavy cream
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cream cheese, sliced into tablespoon-sized chunks, chilled
In a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet, cook the onion slices in the olive oil (or chicken fat, if you have some lying around) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are caramelized and brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
Add 1 sprig each of the thyme, oregano, and rosemary and smash them in with the onions. Deglaze your pan with the port, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the good bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl, pulling out the herbs and discarding them, and let cool.
Wipe out your pan with a paper towel and place over medium-high heat. Add your livers and sauté until browned on both sides but still medium-rare, about
2 minutes on each side. Add the remaining herb sprigs and deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook just until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes; don’t let the livers start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer the livers to a plate or bowl to cool, discarding the herbs.
Toss the cooled livers and onion into a blender (a food processor will also work, but a blender will yield a smoother texture) and turn it on. After the livers have been spinning for about a minute, slowly add the cream and cream cheese and blend to a puree. Taste for seasoning. The mousse should be slightly salty; if it’s not, add more salt 1/2 teaspoon at a time. You can add more black pepper too, if you wish.
Pass the blended livers through a fine sieve and pour the mousse into the mold(s) of your choice and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. The mousse will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Mason jars, ramekins, or a terrine mold (you’ll have 21/2 to 3 cups of mousse you’ll need to pour into a good-looking vessel or vessels of some sort)