Long before I went to culinary school, I perfected my Julia Child impression. I took an improv class in junior high and my friend Cassie and I would improvise skits featuring Julia Child and a random celebrity: Robert DeNiro, Holly Hunter, the Queen of England. They all got the chance to cook with Julia.
When I cook French food now, I typically slip into my Julia Child impression, Bon Appétit! though now no one’s around to hear me but my beagle, Applejack. I’m not going to spend this whole blog post talking about how much Julia Child means to me, but I will say whenever I’m asked who I most admire the answer is always her.
She didn’t start cooking until her mid-thirties and didn’t publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking until she was 49. She is the perfect example of how it’s never too late to learn something new. When she was on camera, she rolled with the punches and kept cooking, even when things went horribly wrong. She had an incredible sense of humor and I honestly try to emulate her in and out of the kitchen.
My copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking is worn and stained but I prefer to call it well-loved. I rarely make anything exactly from one of Julia’s recipes but she knew what she was doing and I’m frequently inspired by her.
Which leads us to today’s recipe: Chicken Liver Mousse with Calvados. I don’t know how you feel about chicken liver, but I’m for it. Revival’s deep fried chicken livers are to die for and I’d never say no to chicken liver mousse.
I use the framework of Julia Child’s recipe but add a chopped Granny Smith apple and use Calvados, apple brandy from France, instead of cognac or Madeira. These both add a sweetness to the mousse and offset the gamey flavor liver sometimes has.
Be sure to grab a crusty loaf of bread and a glass of crisp, white wine when you make this because you won’t want to wait for it to chill to dig in.
Chicken Liver Mousse with Calvados
*adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
1 lb (approximately 2 cups) chicken livers
2 tablespoons minced shallot or onion
1 small or medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup Calvados
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 springs of thyme, stripped
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
- Remove livers from package and remove any green or black spots. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Sauté chicken livers with shallot and apple in the 2 tablespoons of butter until livers are stiffened but still pink inside. Scrape into the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- Pour the Calvados into the sauté pan and boil down to 3 tablespoons. Scrape into the food processor or blender.
- Add the heavy cream, a pinch of salt and pepper, and thyme to the livers. Blend until liver is a smooth paste.
- Add the melted butter and blend until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour into a glass container and chill until set.