Make Ahead

Winter Spring Summer Fall Chicken Mousse

March  4, 2011
Author Notes

I've been making this heavenly thing for about 30 years. The Grand Marnier was an incredible indulgence for a poor graduate student, so at first I only prepared it for the most special of special occasions, usually the winter holidays. Over time, I've tweaked this and that, with the most recent tweak being the addition of capers. Their tartness balances nicely with the cognac's sweetness. I also now make it year-round. It's as lovely on a spring evening with Prosecco as on a winter's night with a deep Syrah. Its flavors are best when made at least a day or two before serving. - boulangere —boulangere

Test Kitchen Notes

When we tasted boulangere's heady, silken paté, we immediately understood her recipe title: this is one of those rare dishes you'd be happy to serve -- and eat -- all year long. It has classic components (aromatics, butter, cream and booze), but boulangere pulls it all together in her own way. She uses Grand Marnier, playing off the underlying sweetness of the chicken livers, and later offsets this by incorporating briny capers, which we found to be a stroke of genius. She flames the liqueur to soften its punch, and she's not shy with the butter: the onions, garlic and thyme essentially confit in a layer of simmering butter, making for an extra supple and rich mousse. And isn't that the point with paté, after all? - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 6
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, fine dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed of connective tissue
  • 4 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
In This Recipe
  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. When foam has gone, add onion with a pinch of salt and sauté until softened. Add garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken livers and cook until just until they are still a bit rosy on the inside, about 5 minutes. Add Grand Marnier and set aflame to burn off the alcohol quickly so that the chicken livers do not overcook. Remove pan from heat when flame subsides, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  3. When cool, transfer the mixture to a food processor. Purée until completely smooth. Add cream and purée for one minute. Last, add capers and pulse to incorporate and to break up a bit. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Turn mousse into one or more ramekins or mold of your choice. Cover with plastic in contact with the surface and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Allow mousse to sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving, as the flavors will be more pronounced. Serve with crostini gently doused with olive oil and toasted alongside a good Dijon-type mustard.

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