It’s the holiday season and you have been invited to a few potluck parties. What to bring? May I suggest homemade chicken liver mousse that’s sure to satisfy your friends who hover over the appetizers table and at the same time impress the adventurous eaters? Look, a lot of people will bring a wheel of Brie or a bottle of wine, and let’s admit it, sometimes you just have to be different from everyone else. So if you have the time, make this and spread the holiday cheer.
You can buy fresh chicken livers at your local Chinatown butcher, or if you’re in New York City, Fairway Supermarket, but for a buck more. The extra dollar may be worth it because the chicken livers from Chinatown almost always come with the hearts attached. Now, I’m a fan of two-for-one deals, but sometimes I just want chicken livers when I buy chicken livers. But just in case yours come looking like this photo below, you can easily trim the heart off and discard (or cook in another dish, Sichuan style; but more on that later). For good measure, I also removed the stringy stuff and just left the livers like how I remember them from grade school science class.
The original recipe required lighting the concoction with a match after adding the brandy (Step 5, below). I happily skipped that step because I didn’t need to risk burning off my eyebrows. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as dangerous as I imagined, but my mousse turned out deliciously without doing it.
For a finer texture, you may strain the liver mousse through a fine sieve after you blitz it in the food processor. I also avoided this extra step and found my mousse quite smooth in the end. To avoid bubble-looking things on the surface when all is said and done, make sure your Saran wrap is flat when you cover the mousse before the last refrigeration step.
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and cleaned
2 cups whole milk
1 cup pitted prunes
1/3 cup red wine
2 tbsps orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsps honey
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup heavy cream
1 medium baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices and toasted
1. In a medium bowl, cover the livers with the milk and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the prunes with the red wine, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup, about 6 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate.
3. In another small saucepan, heat a scant of oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
4. Drain the livers, pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat a little bit more oil. Add the livers and cook over high heat until well-browned, about a minute per side.
5. Add the onion-garlic mixture, along with the honey and 1/4 cup of the brandy. Cook the livers until the brandy has thickened and reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes.
6. Using a heatproof spatula, scrape the hot livers into a food processor. Add the cream and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Transfer the mousse into a serving bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve the liver mousse with the toasts and prunes.