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Duck Liver Mousse with Armagnac Cream

In this delicious preparation, sautéed duck livers are enriched with butter and then exalted with Armagnac whipped cream to create a silky, sumptuous spread to be enjoyed with toast points, in a Vietnamese-style banh mi or, with the blinds drawn, au naturel—straight from the crock with a spoon.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. (1.2 kg) prepared duck livers, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 Tbs. fine sea salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. curing salt no. 1 (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. rendered duck fat
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) duck gelée, or 2 cups (480 ml) duck broth
      reduced to 1/2 cup (120 ml) then seasoned with 1 tsp. fine sea
      salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Armagnac
  • 24 Tbs. (3 sticks/340 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream

Directions:

Place the livers in a nonreactive bowl. Season with the 1 Tbs. sea salt, the black pepper, white pepper and curing salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the duck fat. When the fat begins to sizzle, add the livers and sauté for about 5 minutes. They should be rosy on the inside and yielding to the touch but not squishy. Turn the livers out onto a platter to cool. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 hours.

Divide the cooked livers into three equal batches. Put one-third of the livers into a food processor and puree for 3 minutes. Slowly add one-third of the gelée and 1 Tbs. of the Armagnac, followed by one-third of the butter. Process until the mixture is very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the puree into a bowl. Repeat with the remaining two batches of livers, adding one-third of the gelée, 1 Tbs. of the Armagnac and one-third of the butter to each batch.

Stir the three batches together, then taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set a fine-mesh sieve or tamis over a bowl, then pass the puree through it by scraping small amounts over the mesh surface with a spatula or plastic bench scraper.

In a bowl, using a whisk, whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk the remaining 5 Tbs. Armagnac and a pinch of sea salt into the cream, then fold the cream into the liver puree and taste for seasoning.

If you will be serving the mousse en terrine, pack it into an earthenware crock. Alternatively, line a 6-cup (1.4-l) terrine with plastic wrap, allowing it to overhang the sides by at least 3 inches (7.5 cm), and fill with the mousse. Bring up the overhang to cover the top, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set. To turn out the mousse, remove it from the refrigerator and invert it onto a cutting board, then carefully lift off the terrine. Carefully peel away the plastic wrap and slice to serve. The mousse will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Makes one 6-cup (1.4-l) terrine.

Adapted from In the Charcuterie, by Taylor Boetticher & Toponia Miller (Ten Speed Press, 2013).