Growing up, one of the meals in the Ryan family rotation was “pate night”. That’s a fancy way to say we had cheese and crackers for dinner along with some slices of summer sausage, liverwurst, and teawurst. Over the years as the offerings at Kings in Bernardsville improved, this meal evolved a bit to include various country pates and liver mousses.
From that early exposure came a lifelong love of poultry livers in all preparations for me. Among my all-time favorite preparations are the yakitori goose livers I had in Hong Kong, chopped chicken livers from Jewish delicatessens, and anything served with an unnecessary slab of seared foie gras. I’d never attempted to cook any of those dishes myself but ever since Mooman casually cooked and put out a plate of delicious chicken liver crostini on one of my visits to his house, I have wanted to give it a try. Plus, chicken livers are cheap so the stakes are low.
I don’t think this is that weird of a food item but the pictures tell a different story. Regardless, let’s go with WCIC as the category for this one but not put it in the title, OK? I got started by roasting some garlic.
After an hour plus cooling time, I was ready to dive in. Here is another one of those lineup shots I enjoy so much.
Back to the livers. The pound and a half you see cost about $2, and at the time I took this picture I was still too scared to actually open the container. Eventually, I realized I would have to in order to cook them.
I poured these directly into a colander for a good rinsing before cleaning and trimming them.
I had to do some research on how to clean chicken livers. It’s mostly just trimming fat and connective tissue off, cutting out any spots that are green with bile, and rinsing away any blood vessels. Not too appetizing, but not too different than trimming any other meat.
Out of the pound and a half of livers, I ended up with about a quarter pound of throwaway parts due to generous trimming. The livers went for another rinse and then into some paper towels to dry.
While the livers dried, I chopped up a shallot and 6 or 7 of the smallest roasted garlic cloves.
These went into a hot saute pan with butter and olive oil for a few minutes before adding the livers and a good amount of salt and black pepper.
After five minutes, a half cup of brandy joined the party.
The brandy cooked off for a couple minutes before I removed the pan from the heat and let cool for ten minutes.
The contents of the pan went into the food processor with a splash of half and half, more salt and pepper, a tablespoon+ of curry powder and a little sugar. I was really guessing on what spices to use since I saw allspice recommended on a few sites and I am not a huge fan. So, I went with curry powder for no good reason aside from liking the combination of curry powder and chicken.
Instead of pouring directly into the dish it would set in, I saw a good suggestion online to press the puree through a mesh sieve to get a finer consistency. So that’s what I did.
After a lot of pressing and cursing, I ended up with this:
The mousse needs to set in the fridge for at least a few hours, but according to the intranets, it is at it’s best a couple days later.
The biggest difference between the taste after a few hours versus a couple days is that the less appetizing flavors of chicken livers mellow out a bit.
The flavor of the mousse was on par with some of the best chicken liver varieties I have tasted, which is more a representation of how easy it is to make than my skills. The liver flavor isn’t overly strong but you definitely know what you are eating. The less prominent flavors of curry powder, black pepper, and a little sweetness from the brandy and sugar all work really well together. Really good, and an additional dish to make if I am ever asked to bring charcuterie to a dinner party, which becomes less likely with each additional post like this. Bonus post-feeding Janet shot time!
Next week will be a post from Long Beach Island, home to my favorite clammin’ grounds. Since I’ve covered clams pretty well, I hope to give a shot to butchering and cooking yellow fin tuna collar. We’ll see if that works out.