I recently went to visit my daughter, Lauren, and her boyfriend, Tom, in their new home in Philly. They took me to a great restaurant called Bar Hygge.
Translated on its own from Danish, Hygge (hoogeh) means simply “fun.” But Hjem Og Hygge means “home and comfort.” Which is exactly how I like to live and cook. We had a Hygge Board with lots of small appetizers on it - one of which was chicken liver mousse with cherry jam.
I’ve actually never tried liver mousse. I always wanted to but was a little freaked out by having to “clean the connective tissue from the livers.” I’ll admit, that part wasn’t pretty - my hands looked a bit like Hannibal Lechter’s when I was done. But it’s absolutely worth the carnage.
You can buy the jam if you like, but this recipe is pretty easy and no pectin or peeling is required.
2 lbs black plums, washed, seeds removed
2 cups white sugar
Pinch of salt
2 - 3 tbsp lemon juice
2 star anise
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves generous ¼ tsp
1 Granny Smith green apple, grated
Cut all the plums into 1 inch chunks (roughly).
Add sugar, salt, lemon juice and spices into the bowl. Mix well.
In a large pot, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture to let it heat evenly. Lower the heat to medium - medium low, and cook until the fruits start to soften
Remove the two star anise, then mash the fruit occasionally until it starts to thicken slightly. Stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom and burning. I won’t go through the whole sterilization process - this only makes about 2 pint jars full and they’ll keep in the fridge for a long time.
Do the jam test: drop a little jam on a frozen surface (saucer / bowl / spoon). Then keep it in the freezer for about a minute and check the consistency. If the consistency is jelly-like without being runny, then you’ve cooked the jam to the right temperature. Put in jars or a sealable container and refrigerate.
Now the mousse:
12 ounces chicken livers, fresh or frozen
4 tablespoons milk
7 ounces unsalted butter, diced
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 cup heavy cream
Clean the livers by soaking them in the milk for 20 minutes. This removes the metallic taste.
Dry them with paper towels.
Remove the connective tissue with a sharp paring knife, cut in small chunks and set aside.
Heat 1 ounce of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until the butter has melted and is foaming. Add the minced shallots and ginger and cook until they are softened and translucent.
Turn the heat up a little and add the livers. Cook for 3 minutes, turning with a spatula; do not worry of the centers are a little pink.
Remove the livers again. In the same pan, add the sherry or wine, stirring to scrape up any bits of liver on the pan and let this bubble until reduced to just about a tablespoon.
Add the livers back in the pan, just to coat them and scrape everything into a blender or food processor. Add the thyme, salt, black pepper, mace and pulse to combine. Add the cream, 3 ounces of the butter, and blend on high until super-smooth and creamy.
Push through a fine mesh sieve to make sure there aren’t any leftover bits of ickiness.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
The mousse will brown when exposed to the air, so cover the top with a thin (cooled) later of melted butter or plastic wrap when storing.
Serve the mousse on toast and top with some of the jam, alongside a nice glass of Chardonnay. Delectable.
Fruit may sound like an odd thing to go with liver, but they’re perfect together. Not a jam fan? Serve the mousse on toasted bread with gherkins or cooked pearl onions.
Share with some loved ones, giving them a nice big hygge.