Make Ahead

Winter Spring Summer Fall Chicken Mousse

March  4, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • aidangilbert
  • hardlikearmour
  • Frantasticfood
  • pauljoseph

79 Reviews

805mlm June 13, 2020
Any insight to offer on using duck livers instead of chicken livers? We are harvesting some tomorrow and I would like to make this...
boulangere February 7, 2021
Lucky you! I suspect the substitution can easily be made. Simply use the same weight in duck livers, and all other ingredients remain constant. Please let me know how it turns out.
Ann May 22, 2020
I just made this and it is now in the fridge. Can’t wait for tomorrow to try it. The creaminess is wonderful.
My one concern while making it was the flame business. I don’t know if I let enough of the Gran Marnier burn off!!! I was really afraid of overcooking the livers. BTW...The livers were perfectly cooked, but I felt the finished product tasted a bit boozy. Hoping after refrigeration overnight and serving with the suggested mustard etc, the taste will mellow out. Has anyone felt like this?
cathy January 16, 2019
i love that glass storage jar, anyone know where it's from?
805mlm June 13, 2020
I want to know the same thing...
Jennifer February 6, 2021
It's a Wagenfeld egg coddler.
Alexandra S. November 22, 2014
I made this on Thursday at a cooking class I was teaching on "making the most of a whole chicken." We tasted it warm, and it was very tasty, but of course not as delicious as when it has completely cooled — oh my! It is SO good. Everyone went home with a little jar of it. I am so excited to treat my family to it next Wednesday. They are going to be in heaven! Thank you.
lydiabee November 20, 2012
Looks delicious! I'd like to make it for a Thanksgiving appetizer. How do you think this would taste if made with cognac, brandy or sherry?
aidangilbert December 9, 2011
I couldn't reconcile the orange with the liver, so I made this using Scotch instead of Grand Marnier and used fresh savory because I had it. The Scotch was perfect with the earthy liver. I plan to make this again for Revillion.
aidangilbert December 9, 2011
I couldn't reconcile the orange with the liver, so I made this using Scotch instead of Grand Marnier and used fresh savory because I had it. The Scotch was perfect with the earthy liver. I plan to make this again for Revillion.
boulangere December 9, 2011
Wow, scotch will certainly take it in a different direction, but I imagine the earthiness of it is fantastic. Thank you for sharing your invention, and Bonne Année!
hardlikearmour April 24, 2011
Made this for a party last night. It's really delicious, and most every really liked it - only the vegetarians and avowed liver haters did not!! I used Cointreau in place of Grand Marnier. I was a little afraid after I put it together because it was pretty soupy, but it thickened up perfectly in the fridge.
boulangere April 24, 2011
The array of foods you served is beautiful! Thanks for taking us all through your menu.
hardlikearmour April 24, 2011
Is it bad that I'm eating the left over mousse on toast for breakfast?? (I used 2 lbs of chicken liver so I have enough for the party plus some left over!!)
boulangere April 24, 2011
Good heavens, I've been known to eat it straight out of the ramekin off the tip of a knife. Sounds amazing on toast!
Frantasticfood April 16, 2011
Looks absolutely delicious. I'm a chopped liver maker, and always make a batch for our Passover seder, but the smooth creaminess of this mousse looks heavenly and I'm going to have to make it this year.

Alas, there won't be any crostini ... it wouldn't be on a Passover table, but the mousse is going to be GREAT on matzo. Thanks for the great idea!
boulangere April 16, 2011
Ooooh, sounds great on matzo! Long ago and far away I had a Jewish boyfriend and though I've long since shed him from my life, I remain grateful for and fond of the culinary adventures I was exposed to. Please let us know how you like this!
pauljoseph April 16, 2011
you are the winner that's my judgement
boulangere April 16, 2011
You are so kind!
Elizabeth K. April 15, 2011
Where can one buy that fantastic container the mousse is displayed in??
boulangere April 15, 2011
Unfortunately, probably nowhere. If you check out the photos in the About Amanda photos, you'll see that they are a cherished heirloom. I'm with you, though. The instant I saw the photo, I was on the trail . . . .
Grace January 15, 2015
Just look up glass egg toddler on google and you should be able to find one. I never use the ones I have for actually coddling eggs :)
DAVILCHICK April 15, 2011
I made this last night for a dinner party tonight and it is so ridiculously wonderful my husband and I decided to cancel the dinner party so we could stay home and eat it all ourselves. I'M NOT KIDDING. Who knew making such great dishes could be this fun and easy. THANK YOU!!
boulangere April 15, 2011
Well, I'm going to guess this is the good news, not the bad. And I am very happy that it made you so happy! Believe me, I know how it feels to dip in and not be able to stop. Thank you for your kind comment!
emily_wendt April 3, 2011
This looks delicious! Thank you!
boulangere April 3, 2011
I hope you enjoy it!
boulangere April 3, 2011
YAY for you!
sarah K. April 3, 2011
It was delicious! My husband (a recent liver convert) liked it, too. I had to teach him how to spread it nice and think, though. I wished that the Grand Marnier had a little more of a presence, though. I hope I didn't do it wrong!
boulangere April 3, 2011
Don't hesitate to use a little more next time.
foodfighter April 1, 2011
Do you think this would be good without a pureed consistency? My wife loves chicken liver, but not the mousse texture.
boulangere April 1, 2011
It's all a science experiment, so try it and see! What you might try, so you get at least some of the effect of the flavor blend is to just roughly pulse it in the food processor, without taking it all the way to a mousse.
boulangere April 1, 2011
And then either let it sit at room temp for longer, or don't refrigerate it as long. Either would help with the textural issue (I have some textural issues of my own, you see). It is very kind of you to be so attentive.
inpatskitchen April 1, 2011
I told you this was a winner...Congratulations! I'm out to buy liver and Grand Marnier!
boulangere April 1, 2011
And pour a small toast to yourself, too!
pauljoseph March 31, 2011
less ingredients and better flavor.Congrats on being a finalist!
boulangere March 31, 2011
My philosophy in a nutshell - thanks so much, pauljoseph!
AntoniaJames March 31, 2011
I have never cooked a chicken liver in my life, so of course I don't eat them, because they have always been, to use your apt phrase (especially for someone who negotiates for a living), a "deal-breaker" for me. But that, I believe, is going to change. Any savory dish with equal (generous) parts of Grand Marnier and heavy cream has got to be delicious! I can't believe I'm saying this, but here goes . . . I'm going to try this!! ;o)
hardlikearmour March 31, 2011
Way to go, AJ! I'm with you - don't usually cook them, but I do like chicken liver paté or mousse. I will definitely be making this as the appetizer next time I have supper guests.
boulangere March 31, 2011
Be brave, ladies! I'm so proud of you!
Greenstuff March 31, 2011
I always buy my chickens whole, and if they come with giblets, I sometimes sauté the liver as a little treat for the cook. If you get good chickens (and I'm sure you do, AJ) the livers are great--even without the Grand Marnier!
boulangere March 31, 2011
Greenstuff, you are so much braver than I am! Bravo to you!
SKK March 31, 2011
Boulangere, congratulations on being a finalist and having a recipe that actually had me love chicken livers! You are amazing!
boulangere March 31, 2011
Oh, that's wonderful news! Thank you so much, SKK!