Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mousse de Foie de Poulet

Mousse de foie de poulet
The humble chicken liver.

When you buy a whole chicken, this is often times found stuffed inside the cavity of the carcass. Many of you (ahem, Tod, ahem) simply toss this into the drain for the garbage disposal or into the trash, along with the gizzards, neck, heart and stomach.

J'accuse! I say. The noble foie de poulet does not deserve such flippant dismissal. Liver is soul food. Liver feeds the soul (cue objections from TOD).

I first had chicken liver mousse made by our Jewish neighbors in Shaker Heights (they also hipped me to sable, lox and salmon mousse). I loved it then, now I love it more than ever.

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Mise en dinner party.
I had to work the previous Friday, despite being on "vacation" here in Cleveland, so I decided I'd camp out at Dad's, do the usual kid stuff: drink his sparkling water, have a glass of wine, "borrow" some of his Townes van Zandt and Steve Earle CDs for my "digital media backup service".

Nosh on crackers and cheese.

But I am not a total free-loader of a son, and my step mother pressed me into service to help her with a dinner party they were hosting the next evening.

She returned later in the afternoon with two Amish chickens: Ohio's long-standing answer to "organic, free range chicken."

Amish chickens have always been organic. Amish chickens are always free range. Amish chickens eat grubs, bugs, beetles and whatever nuts and berries it likes.

Thats because the chicken is the pesticide of the Amish farm.

Say what you will about the Amish -- and there's plenty to say -- but I'd rather buy my food from them than from the local Dave's Supermarket. *

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"Ann, what do you want me to do with these? Spatchcock them?"

"Spatch-who?" inquired my step-mom.

"You know, butterfly..."

Spatchcock-er-y.
"Oh no, I need them parted out."

"Legs and one whole breast or drumsticks, thighs, and two half breasts?"

"The latter..."

"Want the gizzards and stuff?"

"Toss them."

10 minutes later, each half chicken was packaged in a single freezer bag: one half breast, one wing, one thigh, one drumstick.

The neck, back, tail and hearts were in a separate bag that I stuck in the freezer ("for stock...").

Two shiny, fresh, glossy, springy, pillowy livers sat sadly in a stainless steel mixing bowl.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't throw them away.

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Normally I would do this with heavy cream and cognac. Neither were to be found (too bad, I would have not minded a snifter of brandy as I worked). Even sans cream, I would at least use a full fat yogurt. I made due with what was in the pantry (and wasn't reserved for the dinner party).

A'la Minute Mousse de Foie de Poulet:

  • Two chicken livers, trimmed of casings, extra fat and veins.
  • 2 heap tbsp of (sigh) low-fat yogurt.
  • 1tbsp of white wine.
  • 2 heap tbsp of jam or preserves (I used apple, but peach or pear would be fine...orange marmalade would be divine).
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard.
  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter.
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Splash of cider or white vinegar.
  • Pinch cheyenne.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Coarse peppercorns to garnish.
  • 2 heap tbsp of olive oil to garnish.
  • Water (about 2 quarts).
Bring a 3 quart saucier of water to the boil with a pinch of salt and a splash of white or cider vinegar.

Poach the livers in the water: place livers in boiling water, cover with lid, count to 10, and turn off heat. Livers are poached in 90 seconds.

Overcooking the livers will lead to a dry, tinny taste. Livers should be slightly pink on the inside when cut in half.

Strain livers, discard poaching liquid. Place livers in a mixing bowl.

Add remaining ingredients except for the olive oil, blend with stick blender until a smooth paste with some lightness. Add a splash of wine if too thick. Should be consistency of a pancake batter.

Transfer into medium ramekins (1 cup capacity). Garnish with peppercorns and oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or tin foil and chill over night.

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* I'm told the people who own and run Dave's are very fine, nice people. Still, it's a supermarket.