When Too Much…is Just Enough

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When it comes to hosting a dinner party, I come from my mother’s “more is more” school of entertaining. I feel like true generosity is giving people the option of feeling stuffed and sick to their stomachs when they leave your home… sweet sentiment I know.

Jonathan on the other hand thinks I’m just being gluttonous and have no concept of how much food someone with a “normal” appetite actually requires. “This is why we’re not losing weight!” he usually points out before shoveling another ladle of food in his pie-hole. With his finger raised as if to make a point, the mention is more of a statement than an actual attempt to curb the number of items we serve. All just so he can say “I told you so!” when we’re rubbing our tummies in squalid content as we waddle the dog around the neighborhood before bedtime.

Like in most cases, I completely disagree with him. It’s not the copious amounts of food—that I slave away preparing from scratch all day—that’s preventing us from losing weight. In fact, I think I’ve figured out the true culprit. The murder of our youthful metabolisms was committed by Mr. Spoon, in the freezer, with the Strauss Creamery ice cream!

I feel like I buy just enough food to make certain we don’t run out before our guests have had enough. So this is as close to a “you’re right” as you’re gonna get Jonathan when I say historical evidence would show that I occasionally overestimate how much food is necessary. I’ll admit that, but I certainly don’t think it’s an infraction worthy of the routine inquisition you orchestrate when I’m running around the city procuring the necessary ingredients for a dinner party. I mean seriously, let’s pick our battles. It could be so much worse. I could be an adulterer or a thief…or a victim!

Anyways, in order to be less wasteful, I’ve started keeping the jars I get from farmers’ market vendors and artisanal shops. Because, if I’m to live up to the expectations of my partner, family and friends, there will oftentimes be an extra sauce, appetizer, or piece of dessert leftover when we host a dinner party. And sending your guests home with a goodie bag is as Martha would say, “a good thing.”

In preparation for a recent dinner party, I decided to put a spin on the chopped chicken liver recipe I’m so used to enjoying at a good deli, when sitting shiva for a loved one, or when someone orders a bagel and spreads spread. As the guests arrived and enjoyed their first glass of wine, we served these Profiteroles filled with chicken liver mousse and current chutney. And as the guests left, I sent them all home with their own little jars of the combo. If I really wanted, I could tie the recipe to each jar with a decorative bow or piece of twine….but that’s just crazy talk!

What was awesome, was hearing from friends that they were able to enjoy the chicken liver mousse over the next few days with friends or just on a rustic piece of French bread for breakfast. Enjoy!

Profiteroles with Chicken Liver Mousse & Currant Chutney 

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Since liver is so cheap, I felt like I should double the Joy of Cooking recipe I was working from to create enough chicken liver mousse that I could fill up a few to-go-jars. Below is the original Eatsporkjew recipe for currant chutney that goes well with this decadent appetizer.

Ingredients:

  • 1.8 lbs of chicken livers rinsed, padded dry, trimmed
  • ¾ cups minced shallots
  • 2 tblsp vegetable oils
  • 3 cups diced golden delicious apples (with the skin on)
  • 2 sticks of butter cubed and separated
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 tblsp cognac

Rinse the livers under cold water and discard any of the livers that are light pink or appear to have an orange or yellow hue. You want to the deep blood red ones.

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Some of them will be really soft, mealy and delicate and they’ll fall apart with the slightest amount of pressure between your fingers as you rinse them. Throw those away too. See how this one in the middle is lighter in color than the rest….that’s one that you could toss! Don’t worry about wasting liver….it’s cheap, and you only want to use the best pieces.

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With the remaining livers, trim the white fatty connective tissues without making too many cuts into the larger pieces. Then pat the cleaned whole liver pieces dry with a paper towel and set aside. [Instead of discarding these liver pieces and connective tendons, put them on a sheet of aluminum foil in the toaster oven with a sprinkle of salt because they make great dog treats.]

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Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the shallots and diced apples, cooking until they’re soft and translucent (about 4 minutes). When they’re done, take them off the heat and place them into the bowl of a Cuisinart food processor with the blade attachment in place, and let the shallots and apples cool.

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In the same skillet, melt half a stick of butter and when the foam subsides add half the livers and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the livers for 2-3 minutes on each side until they’re browned on the outside and still pink on the inside. Pull the livers out, and add another half a stick of butter, wait for the foam to subside, and cook the rest of the livers.

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When the second batch of livers are just about done, add the first batch of livers back to the pan, and deglaze the pan with the cognac. On a gas stove tilt the pan down and ignite the cognac to burn the alcohol off. If you’re using an electric stove, use a match (either way, be careful!). Gently swirl the pan and the flames will die down. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the flavor bits (aka fond) on the bottom of the pan.

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Add the liver and cognac mixture to the onions and apples mixture in the food processor, and add the cream. Pulse until well mixed about 10 pulses. Then with the Cuisinart on, add the remaining stick of butter until it’s all melted, completely incorporated and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Pour the liver mousse into a bowl and press plastic wrap to the surface pushing all the air bubbles out. This will keep the top of the liver mixture from drying out while it’s stored it in the fridge for at least an hour.

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Serve the liver cold or at room temperature on challah bread, buttery crackers or Blinis. Using a piping bag, you can pipe the chicken liver mousse into shapes or into a pastry puffs like this for a more elegant presentation and the perfect bite!

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The liver will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Currant Chutney Recipe

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup dried red currants
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp dried mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • ½ tblsp minced lemon zest
  • 2 large strips of lemon peel

Crush the red pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, slice two strips of lemon zest making sure not to scrape below the white pith and into the flesh of the lemon. Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and stir gently with a wooden spoon. With the stove on high, bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium. Let the mixture reduce in size by about half. This should take about 15 minutes give or take a few.

Once the mixture is concentrated, remove the currant chutney from the heat, and let the mixture cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Remove the large pieces of lemon peel and then chill the mixture in the fridge for another 30 minutes or more. Once completely cooled, the mixture should be thickened, like a loose fruit jam or preserves.

This spicy tangy currant chutney is perfect for rich pates and the above chicken liver mousse, but you can also serve this on toast with goat cheese, as a sauce for baked chicken, etc. The possibilities are endless. Since you will definitely have leftovers, and you don’t want your cholesterol to skyrocket, fill a few small mason jars with the liver…

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use a small spatula or spoon and press the mousse down and into the corners getting rid of any air inside. It’s important to pack the chicken liver mousse in tight, so it will stay fresh and last longer in the fridge. Then, on either one side of the liver or over the top as a cap, add some of the chutney. Each one becomes it’s own mini personal-terrine-giveaway!

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Here’s a recipe for the pâté à choux pastry puffs you can use to stuff with chicken liver mousse and the currant chutney for a delicious appetizer.

Tid Bits:

  • Liver pate is pretty rich and with the cognac it’s even richer. It’s nice to balance that out with a fresh, light, and tangy relish, fruit paste, jam or chutney.
  • I recommend this current chutney I developed to go with this liver mousse.

Check out our previous post titled Q&A with Chef Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club

Related Posts:

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4 thoughts on “When Too Much…is Just Enough

  1. Pingback: Q&A with Chef Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club | eatsporkjew

  2. Pingback: The Coffee Cake You Bring to a Wake | eatsporkjew

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