Oh. My. Stars. You will want to try this no matter how much anything with the word ‘liver’ conjures images of shoe leather and palate-fumigating funk. I didn’t start out as a fan of liver. Even worse, my mind flashes images of those little blue-labeled cans of potted meat that my great-grandmother would eat (and you too, Shane!). God bless her, she was a Depression Era gal and had grown to like it…but it just has never been my fancy if ya know what I mean. Frankly, the 1950s version of liver (pan-fried with onions) generally doesn’t look that appetizing either, totally funks out your house, and can taste horrendous. I was always wanting to eat liver…mainly due to memories of being a tiny tot sitting atop my Memaw’s washer (yes, in the days of simpler and functional houses, it was right next to the stove) watching her fry up liver in bacon fat and onions. Her version is the only calf’s liver that has ever tasted good. Fried chicken livers abound in the South, but many are waaaay to funky for me to choke down. Then I tried Glass Onion’s chicken liver mousse. It was a total deal changer. I was hooked and began searching out ways to fit in some liver. Seriously, eating just the prime cuts of an animal was starting to work on my conscience and I had found many ‘rooter-to-tooter’ foods were fabulous. Further, I knew if I could teach myself to eat anchovies or pancreas and thymus (sweetbreads), for Pete’s sake, I could find a way to eat liver.
This duck liver mousse came on the heels of getting a boat load of duck livers from Wishbone Heritage Farms and having some dangerously good duck liver mousse at Glass Onion (if you haven’t been there, run…do not walk…and get yourself some good eats pronto). This started with Chris Stewart’s basic chicken liver mousse recipe an added caramelized onions, a bit of bacon fat, and some sherry. You could easily substitute a port jelly on top during the cooling stage or just serve with a cherry compote or strawberry preserves and some great mustard. Pickles, pickled veggies (green beans or okra like the Glass Onion serves it), and pecans (as FIG does) work well too.
- 1 pound of duck livers
- 2 cups of buttermilk (for soaking livers)
- 3 cups of heavy whipping cream
- 5 farm fresh eggs
- 3 tablespoons rendered duck fat (yes, I keep a stock in my fridge, can substitute melted and cooled butter)
- 1 large onion, caramelized with 2 TBSP bacon fat and 1/3 cup dry sherry
- 2 TBSP Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp curing slat (can leave this out, top of mousse will turn a bit brown)
- 1 TBSP ground white pepper
Soak livers in 2 cups buttermilk for an hour or so (can do overnight) to reduce funk. Drain and rinse. Pulse in food processor until smooth.
Add eggs, duck fat, caramelized onion, kosher salt, curing salt, and white pepper. Pulse until smooth.
Add 2 cups heavy whipping cream and pulse a few times. Push through fine sieve (bouillon strainer works well!).
Whisk in remaining 1 cup heavy cream.
Place in ramekins (mine filled 6), and place in roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with boiling water and place in 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until mousse is firm but jiggles in middle.
Lift ramekins out carefully and cool completely. Add your favorite accoutrements: French bread crostini, pickled vegetables, mustard, cherry compote, strawberry preserves, rhubarb jam, pecans, or roasted walnuts. Pour yourself a big ol’ glass of Suaternes wine and go to town. You’ll be delightfully surprised how much you might like liver!