Creamy Chicken Liver Mousse

12 SERVINGS

Scott Howell developed this creamy chicken liver mousse with his former sous-chef Bill McGhee. The key to its rich texture is to let the livers come to room temperature and to blend the softened butter into them gradually when pureeing. This recipe must be refrigerated overnight to let the flavors develop, so plan accordingly.

1¼ pounds chicken livers, trimmed, at room temperature

8    large egg yolks, at room temperature

2    tablespoons brandy

2    tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy

1 tablespoon salt

1-1/2     teaspoons freshly ground white pepper

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

3    sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

2 cups heavy cream

Toasted baguette slices, for serving

Sweet-and-Sour Red-Onion Relish, for serving (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 275°. In a food processor, combine the livers, egg yolks, brandy, Calvados, salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg and puree until smooth. With the machine on, blend in the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the butter is incor­porated and the puree is creamy; if it looks curdled, wrap a hot kitchen towel around the processor bowl and puree until light and creamy.

2. Pass the puree through a fine strain­er set over a large bowl and stir in the heavy cream until blended. Pour the puree into a 1 1/2-quart enameled cast-­iron terrine and set the terrine in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the terrine and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the mousse is lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the terrine from the water bath and let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

3. To unmold, dip the bottom of the ter­rine in a pan of hot water for 10 sec­onds, and run a paring knife around the edge of the mousse. Invert the mousse onto a long platter or rectangular plate. Cut it into 1/2-inch slices and transfer to plates. Serve with baguette toasts and the Sweet-and-Sour Red-Onion Relish.

MAKE AHEAD The mousse can be refrigerated in its terrine for up to 1 week; place plastic wrap directly on its surface. Leftovers can be tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Let stand at room tem­perature for 30 minutes before servin
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Sweet-and-Sour Red-Onion Relish

MAKES ABOUT 11/2 CUPS

There’s no denying that Southerners love rich food, but this sweet and tart condiment helps keep Howell’s chicken liver mousse in check. The Campari adds a touch of bitterness.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2  large red onions (1½ pounds total), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

2  tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1  tablespoon Campari

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions, cover and cook over mod­erately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Uncov­er, add the sugar and cook, stirring fre­quently, until very tender and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins, vinegar and Campari and sea­son with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately low heat until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Transfer the relish to a bowl and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

MAKE AHEAD The relish can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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