Liver is not something that is often loved. Truth be told, when I first encountered it as a child I was terrified of it. But even then, I was always known to always try something at least once before dismissing it. I'm glad I still have that quality because I would have missed out on a lot of things if I didn't have the courage to just overlook their 'scariness factor' and get on with it.
What's lovely about the Vietnamese heritage is that it's heavily influenced by the French, and who doesn't want to be mixed up in all that loveliness? My dad actually learned French as his first language before he even learned Vietnamese or English and I'm still dreaming of the day when I get to visit myself. Anyway, one thing I thank the French for is pâté, which taught me how to love liver. We Vietnamese spread it all over our sandwiches every chance we get. I decided to try to make it myself using Julia Child's recipe and it was quite possibly the easiest, quickest appetizer I've ever made. Oh yes, and very, very delicious. I couldn't believe how good it was, especially with the super flavorful and crispy Gruyere crostini! I served mine alongside some cornichons for an added tangy contrast.
Julia Child's Chicken Liver Mousse
Yields: about 2 cups
Original recipe here.
2 cups chicken livers
2 tbsn. minced shallots (I used one whole shallot)
2 tbsn. butter
1/3 cup cognac
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. pepper
pinch of thyme
1/2 cup melted butter
kosher salt and pepper
Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers, as well as any sinew. Cut the livers into 1/2" pieces. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until the foam has subsided. Saute the livers with the shallots in butter for 2 - 3 minutes or until the livers are just stiffened, but still rosy inside. Scrape into a blender jar. Pour the cognac into the pan and boil it down rapidly until it has reduced to 3 tbsn. Scrape into the blender. Add the cream and seasonings into the blender, cover, and blend at top speed for several seconds until the liver is a smooth paste. Add the melted butter and blend several seconds more. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Pack into a bowl or jar and chill for 2 - 3 hours before eating.
Yields: 20 - 25 crostini
Original recipe here.
1 loaf of crusty rustic bread or sourdough
4 tbsn. butter
1 tsp. smooth Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsn. finely minced parsley (optional)
1 1/2 oz. finely grated Gruyere (about 1/3 cup)
2 tbsn. finely grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Using a bread knife, slice the loaf into thin crostini (about 1/2 - 3/4 cm thick) In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and mustard and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a pastry brush to brush this mixture lightly on each side of the crostini. Lay the crostini on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet side by side. In a small bowl combine the two cheeses and parsley. Sprinkle the cheese over the tops of all of the crostini. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown or even a little darker if you prefer it a bit crunchier. These are best eaten right away or the same day.