If I was sent to that proverbial island and there was one food I could take, it would be liver mousse. I can hear your collective gasp. Most people are reviled by the stuff, but I call it God’s pudding. It’s slightly sweet and very rich and I could eat it endlessly.
It serves as the basis for all kinds of internationally popular and unpopular foods – depending on who you ask. Foie gras for example, beloved in France, was for a time, banned in Chicago. Then there’s liver and onions in Britain, Leberwurst in Germany, fish liver sashimi in Japan, and the Jewish food turned manner of speech, chopped liver.
I like it not just because it tastes good, but also because it is a way to turn an often overlooked part of the animal we take from the woods into something delicious.
To make the perfect liver mousse, here are some of the things you will need:
Some people avoid liver because they think it stores toxins. But the liver doesn’t store toxins, it neutralizes them. It does store important vitamins, minerals and nutrients though. I would also argue that the liver from the woods has probably processed far fewer toxins than a domestic animal, so it’s better for you.
When harvesting a liver, take a good look at it first to make sure it looks “healthy.” It should be free of spots, and not enlarged or discolored. This deer liver, for example, is just right. If you’re going to buy domestic liver, buy it from a local farmer who raises his animals on pasture. Anything from a large factory farm you should avoid.
Once you sear it on both sides, remove it to a plate.
Then add the shallots and garlic to a pan with a bit more butter or oil.
Cook them low and slow until they are very soft and browned.
Then add the livers back to the pan.
You simmer it slowly, partly covered until it’s reduced and deep purply brown.
Then it all goes into a blender.
As you puree, add the cold butter.
And a bit of half and half.
It will be brown and creamy, slightly thicker than a pudding.
Scrape it into a bowl.
Then add a dash of balsamic and cider vinegar to taste. And salt and pepper.
The underlying sweetness in liver lends itself well to other subtly sweet foods like shallots and onions, or red wine and port. And a dash of vinegar balances it to prevent it from becoming too cloying.
Give this recipe a try and tell me I haven’t made you a convert!
What is your desert island food?
Ok, liver is one of my favorite foods, but I only eat it once a year on my birthday! I have to got to change that! Thanks for the reminder!
I've found that I can love liver as long as it's not served to me "straight" – i.e., a big hunk of liver seared or whatever. It may be years of childhood trauma caused by my mom's overcooked liver wrapped in bacon (our strategy was to eat the bacon and stuff the liver into our napkins when parents weren't looking).
I now know that liver is really important, and that my body especially craves its nutrients, so I rarely turn down an opportunity to indulge, particularly if it's cooked beautifully.
Wow this sounds great!
I can't stand liver pure, but I love Leberwurst… well I'm from Germany, so there's nothing special about that here. But I always wanted to try something similar, but nonetheless different. That just seems the right recipe. Thank you!
I sometimes add half an apple as the onions are browning. I strongly recommend nutmeg, too, and maybe some pistachios for texture, but I guess then you're getting into a terrine.
Whew – just finished it. Now need to leave it alone; I want to sit down with the warm baguette and eat it all. I think I would like an apple with it or maybe a pear. Maybe I’ll just eat it with my fingers. Thanks Georgia, I am a convert!
BTW – I used elk liver.
Wow, sounds amazing! This is one of my favorite recipes, I’m so glad you made it!
i made this and it was really good!
Wonderful! It’s one of my favs