My partner Chris Stewart celebrated his birthday yesterday, and I can think of no better way to commemorate it than by publishing his recipe for Chicken Liver Mousse and Holy Crap Those Are Good Pickles! These dishes really showcase the knowledge Chris has garnered over the years.
Furthermore, the mousse seems an ideal way to also celebrate the Glass Onion's 2nd Annual Offally Delicious Dinner that will be take place this coming Monday, December 6 -- a true foodie extravaganza. Check out the menu at www.ilovetheglassonion.com/tasting -- YUM!
Chicken Liver Mousse
After much deliberation, we decided to share our recipe for sublimely elegant Chicken Liver Mousse. Here you will find a starter that will blow your guests away, but be forewarned: you need a few special tools. First, you will need a pate terrine. This might seem like a frivolous investment, but it enables you to delve into a whole new realm of cooking. Second, you will do yourself a favor by going out to your local wholesale warehouse (think Sam's or Costco) and buy some commercial plastic wrap. While the grocery store variety will work, you will find the heavier-duty stuff proves much easier to manage for lining your terrine and for wrapping up all your leftovers! Finally, you will need to order "pink" curing salt from a website, unless you happen to have a genuine butcher that can provide you with some. This preservative is a necessity, as it will keep your mousse a beautiful, rosy shade in the center as opposed to dull, brownish gray. One website to check out is www.butcher-packer.com for this and other cool charcuterie items.
Now, the rest should be a breeze. Just be sure to check your mousse after about 40 minutes to make sure all is going well. Serve with our housemade pickles (see recipe below), Creole mustard (or other whole grain mustard), and butter crackers.
1 pound chicken livers
2 cups buttermilk
Vegetable oil, for greasing terrine
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon "pink" salt (see head note)
1 quart heavy cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a 1 1/2-quart pate terrine with vegetable oil; line with plastic wrap.
Puree livers in food processor or blender until smooth. Add eggs, salt, white pepper, and "pink" salt; pulse to combine. Add 2 cups of heavy cream; pulse to combine. Strain mixture through a chinos or other fine-meshed strainer into a large bowl. A ladle will help you push the mixture through the strainer. Add remaining 2 cups cream; whisk to combine. Pour mixture into the terrine. Place the terrine in a roasting pan and put into oven. Fill a large bowl with scalding hot water and pour into roasting pan until the water comes three-quarters of the way up the side of the terrine. (This is a water bath!)
Bake mousse until mixture is firm when jiggled, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to cool. Refrigerate until completely cold. Remove from refrigerator, run a paring knife around the edges of the mousse, and invert to release on a baking sheet or serving tray. If the mousse will not release, allow to warm slightly (about 15 minutes) and then it should release easily.
YIELD: About 12 generous slabs; enough to be served as an hors d'oeuvre at a 40-person cocktail party.
Holy Crap Those Are Good Pickles
5 cucumbers, peeled on 3 sides and sliced ¾-inch thick
½ sweet onion, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ carrot, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
½ cup kosher salt
1 quart cider vinegar
1 quart sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Combine cucumbers, sweet onion, pepper, carrot, and salt in a large bowl or storage container. Let sit for one hour. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Return to a large bowl or storage container.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over vegetables, cover, and refrigerate. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
YIELD: 1 1/2 quarts