RESTAURANT-Y

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Confession: Mr. Alpenglow’s modus operandi for entertaining is to slavishly mimic his favorite restaurant experiences. Case in point? Chicken liver mousse. It’s one of those rare dishes that defies the Impossible Trinity: cheap-as-hell ingredients, everything can be made in advance, and it flies off menus. Otherwise elegant diners from the Standard Grill in New York to Bestia in L.A. can be seen stuffing their faces with chicken liver like squirrels in November. Next time you throw a party, try this version — Julia Child’s. It’s surprisingly easy. Mr. Alpenglow has paired it with fresh blackberries, stewed pear, and raisins in the past — but nothing else sings quite like port-braised cherries. The gelée is so unnecessary, but why not?

CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE with PORT-BRAISED CHERRIES
(mousse recipe by Julia Child)

for the mousse:
2 cups of chicken livers
2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup of cognac
1/4 cup of whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. pepper
Pinch of thyme
1/2 cup of melted butter
kosher salt and pepper

Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers, as well as any sinew. Cut the livers into 1/2-incch pieces. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foam has subsided. Sauté livers with the shallots in butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until the livers are just stiffened, but still rosy inside. Scrape into the blender jar. Pour the wine or cognac into the pan and boil it down rapidly until it has reduced to 3 tablespoons. Scrape it into the blender jar. Add the cream and seasonings to the blender jar. Cover and blend at top speed for several seconds until the liver is a smooth paste. Add the melted butter and blend several seconds more. Adjust seasoning. Pack into the bowl or jar and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Serve at room temperature so that the mousse is soft.

for the cognac gelée:
1/2 c. water, separated
1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. dry vermouth
2 tsp. cognac

Place 1/4 c. of warm water in a ramekin, sprinkle unflavored gelatin and let it stand for about 10 minutes. In a small saucepan heat wine and sugar over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Once the gelatin has softened, add the other 1/4 c. of hot water to the ramekin and dissolve until mixture becomes clear. Add the gelatin mixture to the warm wine mixture and mix thoroughly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add cognac. Let the warm mixture stand until it almost reaches room temperature. Once it has cooled, pour over chilled mousse. Return the mousse to the fridge and chill until the gelée has set.

for the cherries:
1 cup of dried pitted cherries
1 cup of port
2 tablespoons sugar

Combine the cherries, port and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Mix well and cover. Let steep for 30 minutes and serve at room temperature. Serve the chicken liver mousse with the cherries and grilled bread that has been drizzled with olive oil.

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