October 21, 2011

Jam Session

Toasts with Chicken-Liver Mousse and Shallot Jam 

"Mommy, that lady just bought liver…chicken liver!"

Indeed I did, kiddo.

This recipe comes from one very folded, dog-eared page in an old Food & Wine magazine. I come across it now and then, usually on sleepless nights, when I am unable to find any of Curtis Stone's Take Home Chef reruns to numb my exhausted, yet restless mind. This recipe is one that intrigued me more for the shallot jam than the liver mousse, but figured I wanted the entire experience.

It wasn't until this recipe was recently emailed to me in some foodie email that decided it was time. I actually do feel bad about attempting it now, instead of anything I could have posted for, maybe, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah? Anything before New Year's Eve really, a time these luxurious little appetizer toasts are most often served. Or,

Perhaps though, some family out there is having a small plates, side-dish-only, tapas-themed Thanksgiving? Or taking the spotlight away from the turkey and featuring... liver?! Although not kosher, this could be great on matzoh, so who knows, maybe it can be incorporated into various celebrations over the next few months. I also think that if you are anything like me, you needed just a little break from the pumpkin or squash recipes that are overfilling your email inbox these days. I may get a few more food-related emails than one person should ever get, but still, I've gotten a little overwhelmed and maybe just a little pumpkin-ed out.

Well, anyway, once I spied those livers at the food store it was with a quick swoop of the hand that they made their way into my tote bag, and then into my refrigerator, and then my food processor, to ultimately…my mouth, which was ready and waiting for it's long overdue chicken liver mousse with shallot jam initiation.

The preparation and process was so simple and went by quickly. The shallots are sautéed with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, and eventually the reduced mixture becomes thick and jammy. The chicken livers are browned in a pan and then heated through again in some red onion and thyme. Place that mixture in a food processor with some butter and voila! A rich, lavish spread for you to savor and enjoy.

This rich, mousse topped with the sharp, sweet jam offers you and your mouth such intense pleasure as you slowly begin to identify what you are tasting and swirling around in your mouth. The toasted baguette slices are brushed with oil and rubbed with garlic (so, tasty on their own, as well) but really, they are just little vessels to get the spread from the plate to your mouth. This jam will work well with so much more as well. Other meat dishes, a sandwich spread, on its own with crackers, alongside a cheese plate or perhaps warmed a bit as a dip for various hors d'oeuvres and finger foods. Experiment with it all!

Toasts with Chicken-Liver Mousse and Shallot Jam
(adapted from Food & Wine magazine)

For the jam:
*2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
*4 large shallots, thinly sliced and
*3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
*1/3 c. light brown sugar

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallots until soft, about 10 minutes*, stirring often. Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and stir until mixed. Let this reduce down until thick and jam-like, about 5 minutes**. Season with salt to taste and let cool.

*The original recipe says ten minutes, but I found that my shallots were browning and crisping up quite quickly. The crispy taste and texture did impart another layer of taste though, so please feel free to take it all the way to 10 minutes if you want!

**Again, a time issue. My jam did not thicken or reduce down as much as I wanted after 5 minutes. I chose to let it go for about 10 or 11 minutes. I think any longer will have made for a more hardened, stiff topping, instead of anything gooey and jam-like. Also, the jam will gel and set a little more on its own, when off the heat, so do remember that.

For the mousse:
*1 stick + 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
*1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed
* salt and freshly ground pepper
*1 medium red onion, diced
*4 thyme sprigs
*2 peeled garlic cloves
*extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
*baguette slices or toast points
*shallot jam

Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a pan over high heat. Season the chicken-livers with salt and pepper. When the butter has melted, place the chicken livers in the pan and brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat another 2 Tbsp. of butter in the same pan, now over medium heat and add the diced red onion and thyme. Stir often and let the onions soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken-livers back to the pan and heat through. Remove from the heat, pluck out the sprigs of thyme and let the mixture cool.

Once cooled a bit add the chicken-livers and onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining 6 Tbsp. butter and pulse until smooth and creamy. Add salt, taste and adjust if necessary. I added about half a tsp of salt, as well as a touch of olive oil, to get the texture and consistency I was looking for. Keep it loose though, as you want to be able to strain the mixture over a fine mesh sieve, over a bowl. Salt again if you see fit, cover, and chill.

To serve, brush the warm baguettes or toasts with olive oil and rub with the garlic cloves. Top each with the mousse and then a dollop of shallot jam. Sprinkle with remaining thyme leaves or parsley.

My apologies. The initial post was actually a very old, and much modified draft. I am not sure what happened, but I have made a few corrections here and there. My heart has stopped racing finally, after realizing what was posted. Thank you for your patience! A.M.

1 comment:

Rowena... said...

Mention chicken liver in our house and not only us, but also our 2 dogs come running to the table. I apologize for not being able to get back to your comment sooner (on the banana leaves) as I've been away, but now the idea of using frozen leaves has the wheels turning in my head!