I know some of you saw the chicken liver in the title and made a face. I know, it is a common reaction. This recipe is however, in addition to being delicious, near and dear to my heart for two very special reasons.
One when I was a child (and even now) I was anemic and so my parents leaned heavily into the iron rich foods like spinach and liver, so for me this is a very comforting flavor (although it isn’t all that ‘liver-y’ a taste. I also have very firm opinions about liver, but that is another tale.
Two I believe if you are going to make the choice to eat meat then you shouldn’t just choose a few choice cuts, but eat as much of the creature as possible.
That being said, I have friends who love mousses and pates (the non-duck abusive kind) but shy away from using chicken livers because they don’t know how to deal with them. This is a very easy entre into cooking chicken livers.
First, this does require a few pieces of equipment. You will need a knife to trim the livers, a cutting board, a large skillet with a lid that fully covers it (I prefer a nonstick kind) and a food processor. I also use a mandolin but you can use your knife to cut the onions if you want.
The food processor is a necessity because you need to turn everything into a really smooth paste. Mine is from Hamilton Beach and I absolutely love it. Not only is is affordably priced but it works like a champ. Plus, for years I had only a small mini food processor (two cup maximum capacity) so I had to process everything in batches. It is doable but it takes a lot of time.
This one is a ten cup food processor. Say it with my my darlings TEN CUPS! Oh it makes my little heart ping with joy.
I think I hugged this food processor when it first came home and my baby doll tells me that I patted it affectionately when ever I passed it for the first few months. I do not recall this but he may be right.
Okay, he probably is right.
While we use the food processor throughout the year it is when the garden is in full swing that we don’t even bother putting it back in the cupboard. It gets an almost daily workout. It is one of my favorite tools. It’s got this blade so you can make slaw, grate cheese, make salsa and just about process most of what we grow in the garden. I love this thing.
Seriously, I could write sonnets.
If I could remember the rhyming structure.
I can’t at the moment, I’ll have to look it up. But I could definitely write a haiku.
But enough waxing poetic about my beloved food processor. It is time for the ingredients. Ready?
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed (this basically means cutting off all of the harder bits from the livers.)
1 thinly sliced onion (I use the mandolin for this)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock (if you don’t have your own on hand I highly recommend the Better than Bullion concentrate, just check your salt level)
2 tsp salt
3 sticks (3/4 of a lbs) softened butter (you want to be able to press your finger into it not have it melted)
3/5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp cognac
Are you ready to bring it together? Excellent.
- Put your pan on the stove top.
- Add your livers, onions, garlic, bay leaves chicken stock, and half of your salt (1 tsp).
- Bring it to a boil.
- As soon as it boils, turn the heat to a low simmer and cover it.
- Leave it on the heat for 3 minutes.
- After three minutes, turn the heat off and shift it off the burner. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID. (you need the residual heat to cook the livers through)
- Leave the pan covered for ten minutes. After ten minutes take off the lid and your livers will be cooked through but still a little pink. (mostly it will be the liquid that is still pink, but don’t worry we aren’t using it.)
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer all the solids from the pan into the food processor (livers and onions).
- Pulse until it is a smooth paste.
- Take the lid off of the food processor and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, put the lid back on and start adding the butter in lumps.
- Add in the cognac, pepper and remaining salt.
- Blend until smooth (I won’t lie, it looks like mud at this point.)
- Pour the mix into a container (or several) and put it in the fridge for 4-6 hours or (even better) overnight. The mix will firm up to a pate like consistency.
- As it is a LOT of Mousse, we cut it into servable sections once solid, wrap each one in plastic wrap and then put it in a freezer safe zip top bag. Thus stored in the freezer it keeps for about six months. Just give it time to thaw before serving.(a few hours on the counter or overnight in the fridge).
See that wasn’t so hard. And you not only have a delicious treat for now, but for several occasions to come. My portions come out to twelve, but I make them different sizes. Sometimes it is just me and my baby eating it and sometimes we have a houseful, so I find multiple sizes helps.
I tried to pare the recipe down, and in theory you can, but our store only sells chicken livers in one pound containers so for me it is just easier to make the batch and freeze what doesn’t get eaten right away.
Plus, I like having something I can pull out of the freezer for surprise company (not that we’ve had company in the past year, but you know, usually). Our location means we get a lot of friends and family passing through. Sometimes we only have a few hours notice before a drop by visit occurs so i like to be prepared.
This can be served with crackers or bread depending on your preference. I find adding a really nice sharp cheddar works really well as a paired offering.
As for drinks, I usually choose a white wine to go with it. Today, however we are going non-alcoholic.
I know, strange for a happy hour. However both my baby doll and I got our Vaccines this week and have been feeling a little off. It seemed like a good week to give the booze a pass. You know, just in case.
So instead we are using seltzer water, complements of my lovely Soda Stream and adding a little bit of grenadine to make a sweet cherry fizz. It is light and fruity and oddly enough the sweetness pairs well with the sweetness of the cognac. Personally, I like something light and fruity with the deep richness of the chicken liver mousse.
The two actually complement each other. If you were looking for something equally light to pair with it that had alcohol in it, you could add a shot of vodka to this (lemon infused vodka would actually be quite nice actually, the lemon adding a note of sharpness to go with the sweet and lemon would pair very well, or at least cut through the fatty richness of the mousse).
If looking for something pre-prepared, you might try a White Claw or some other hard seltzer to go with it. It also goes very well with a Chardonnay that leans towards citrus notes.
Whether alcoholic or not, you are going to want to look for a light beverage with either sweet or sharp notes to pair with the fatty rich flavor of the chicken liver mousse. And while I adore red wine, this is one of those foods that just leans towards the crispness of white wines. It may be liver, but it is still poultry if that helps you when you are making your selection. Sometimes the classic associations are there for a reason.
Personally tonight i am going to enjoy my light cherry flavored fizz with my chicken liver mousse spread on rounds of fresh baguette. And I think even without the alcohol, my baby and I are going to have a very happy, happy hour.
And if you’d like to oggle my beautiful Food Processor (Or really his compatriots) You can click on the Hamilton Beach link below. It really is one of my essential kitchen tools these days.