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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:

balsamic vinegar
cider vinegar
red wine

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.

Then comes the wine and port.

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?

“Liver Mousse”

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings: 3 cups


  • 4 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 2 cups livers duck, chicken, or venison for example
  • 2 cups shallots thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ cup red or white wine
  • ¼ cup port
  • 1 tablespoon half n’ half or cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter cold and cubed
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  • Cider vinegar to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the livers, making sure not to crowd the pan, and sear on both sides just until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and caramelize. Season with salt and pepper to help release the juices. Add more oil as necessary.
  • Return the livers to the pan, then add the wine and port. Cover partially with lid and simmer until liquid has reduced by 2/3.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes, but not completely. Once partially cooled, place the mixture in a blender and puree until smooth. With the blender running, add the buttered followed by the cream. Continue to puree until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl.
  • If you want the mousse especially silky, you can pass it through a fine mesh strainer at this point.
  • Season with balsamic vinegar and cider vinegar to taste.
  • Chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat.


  • dessertfortwo
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    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!

  • NorCal Cazadora
    Posted August 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

    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.

  • Lena
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 2:18 am

    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!

  • Lauren
    Posted September 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Fabulous recipe!

    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.

  • Lisa S.
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    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!

  • Lisa S.
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    BTW – I used elk liver.

    • Post Author
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Wow, sounds amazing! This is one of my favorite recipes, I’m so glad you made it!

      • ed
        Posted December 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm

        i made this and it was really good!

        • Post Author
          Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

          Wonderful! It’s one of my favs

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