When I saw that chicken livers were on sale I immediately thought that this is a great chance to make a batch of chicken liver mousse to share on the blog. If I look back in time, I can see that I have only posted one liver recipe so far: liver spätzle. But there are so many more tasty German liver preparations like liver meatballs, liver dumplings, liver sausage, or fried liver with apples and onions.
Even though I prepared this dish with chicken livers, it can also be made with duck, goose, or rabbit liver. In Germany, liver mousse is often made from a mixture of chicken, goose, and duck liver which makes it a very luxurious and delicate product. Pork liver is usually used for liver sausage while beef liver is often used for spätzle and dumplings while veal liver is often fried with onions and apples.
The most glorious of all livers that I have ever tasted, besides foie gras (“Stopfleber”), is rabbit liver. However, rabbit liver is not so easy to come by in Germany. The liver and kidneys are included if you purchase a whole rabbit but if you want to eat just the liver, you usually have to order it in advance from a butcher. So whenever I buy a rabbit, I harvest the liver and fry it in butter as a special treat. But if you have easy access to rabbit liver, in the best case from wild European rabbits, then it is a good idea to prepare this mousse from rabbit liver.
Tips for preparing poultry liver mousse
When frying liver, you usually want it to be pink in the center. If you overcook liver, it gets gritty. For liver mousse, however, the liver is usually cooked well done. We puree the liver anyway so we don’t have to worry about grittiness. Especially if you want to store the mousse for a few days in the fridge, I advise you to cook the liver through and not leave it pink in the center.
The one ingredient that I am opposed to in liver mousse is garlic. We add onions for sweetness but I never get why people add garlic to liver. The garlic doesn’t add anything pleasant here. It just makes the chilled mousse smell bad and overpowers more subtle flavors. What liver needs is something sweet. Instead of garlic, add some apples, pears, or a pinch of fruit jelly to your mousse. That is much better.
The reason I mention this is because I noticed that a lot of American recipes include minced garlic as a default ingredient in an overpowering quantity. As garlic is a very potent aromatic, one needs to be careful to not distract from more subtle flavors or to destroy the harmony of a dish. One of my biggest surprises in the US was how the Mediterranean, especially Italian food, was often prepared.
Good Italian food has a broad variety of flavors, textures, and aromas even if only a few ingredients are used. But if tons of garlic or cheese go into almost every dish, the flavor variety is lost. Everything will taste like garlic and cheese, two very strong flavors that mask milder flavors and make everything taste the same.
To make it short: Delicate dishes like liver require delicate seasoning.
Poultry Liver Mousse (‘Geflügellebercreme’)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 14 ounces (400 grams) chicken, duck, goose, or rabbit liver
- 1/3 cup Madeira wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Cubeb pepper, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
- about 1/2 cup of heavy cream, more or less depending on your desired consistency
- Heat the butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and briefly sweat them for 2-3 minutes or until they have lost their pungency. Add the liver and fry it together with the shallots over medium heat until the liver is halfway cooked through. Add the Madeira wine to the pan and continue to cook the liver until cooked through and most of the wine has evaporated. Season the liver to taste with sugar, cubeb pepper, black pepper, and salt.
- Transfer the liver into a food processor or a bowl with high walls. Bit by bit, drizzle the heavy cream onto your liver while simultaneously pureeing it with your food processor or with a stick blender. Stop adding heavy cream once the mixture is a bit thinner than you prefer as the mousse will thicken once chilled. Taste the hot mousse and add more salt or other seasonings if needed.
- Transfer the mousse into ramekins or mason jars and chill in the fridge for a few hours until it has firmed up. Serve chilled with some flaky salt and slices of sourdough bread or baguette.