Unlike most pâtés and terrines in which raw ingredients are cooked together in a mold, chicken liver mousse is made with cooked livers, shallots, and thyme pureed with butter, worked through a sieve, and then folded together with whipped cream. The delicate consistency and flavor puts chopped liver to shame, though any taboos about combining meat and dairy are obviously broken. Serve the mousse with little toasts.
– MAKES 4 CUPS MOUSSE OR 20 HORS D’OEUVRE SERVINGS ¾ pound chicken livers.
– Salt and pepper.
– 2 tablespoons olive oil.
– 2 shallots, minced.
– 1 small clove garlic, minced.
– ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme.
– ¼ cup port or Madeira.
– 2 tablespoons cognac (optional).
– 1 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces.
– 1 cup heavy cream.
Step 1:Pat the livers dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until the oil is smoking hot. Add the livers and sauté, turning as needed, for about 10 minutes, or until browned on both sides and firm to the touch. Transfer the livers to paper towels to drain. Discard the oil in the pan.
Step 2:With the pan still over high heat, add the shallots, garlic, and thyme and stir around for 30 seconds to toast and release their aroma. Add the port, boil it down until reduced by half, and then remove from the heat and add the cognac.
Step 3:Add the livers, the contents of the pan, and the butter to a food processor and process until smooth. Using the back of a spoon or a plastic pastry scraper, work the mixture through a drum sieve (fine-mesh drumshaped sieve, also known as a tamis) or regular fine-mesh sieve.
Step 4:Whip the cream until medium-firm peaks form (peaks hold their shape but are not rigid when you stop and lift the whip out of the cream). Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream into the liver mixture just until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.