Duck Liver Stout Mushroom Mousse is an easy-to-make, relatively inexpensive appetizer that can feed a crowd. It’s also a portable and elegant dish to share with friends and loved ones. Create a smorgasbord of flavors by adding different cheeses, cured meats, favorite breads and Homemade Brewers Crackers with Spent Grain. This recipe uses umami rich mushrooms, bringing their earthy goodness and mixing with a roasty Stout brew, and the mineral rich livers, to make a delicious appetizer.
Duck livers are incredibly good for you too. Not many people realize that the liver organ is full of nutrition. Duck livers have 80% of your daily requirements of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for your immune system, critical for your vision,, supports cell growth, helping maintain your heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and other organs. Duck livers are also a good source of phosphorus and zinc, plus it is a protein and contains Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12 (helps with a hangover), Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Copper and Selenium. All these minerals and vitamins are essential in our diet. Using duck livers is also a way not to waste anything from the animal, promoting Nose to Tail style of eating.
As duck isn’t as a popular meat to find in most grocery stores, finding duck meat might be more difficult, if you aren’t friends with a hunter. One of my favorite companies to get duck from is Sonoma Poultry | Liberty Duck. Located just outside Petaluma, CA, they offer all things duck. All the ingredients in this recipe are sourced from them. Duck hearts, duck gizzards, duck bones | feet | necks (great for stocks), duck legs, duck breasts, duck skin (duck chicharrones anyone) and duck fat (for frying, sauteing and pastry – Duck Fat Strudel Dough). They are now shipping duck. Take a look at their site!
Place the duck livers (or chicken livers) in a medium-sized bowl. Cover with cold water and let them rest for 30 minutes, allowing the organ to release any remaining blood. After half an hour, drain the water and place the livers onto a doubled-over paper towel to dry.
As the livers are soaking, add 2 tablespoons of your chosen fat to a cast iron skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks along with the thyme, bay leaf and a few good pinches of salt. Cook the vegetables and allow them to caramelize, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another 3 – 4 minutes.
Be careful not to burn your ingredients or the resulting mousse will taste bitter.
Deglaze the skillet with the Stout and let the beer reduce until it becomes syrupy and thick, but not dry in the pan. Turn off the heat and remove the thyme stems and bay leaf. Using a spatula, pour and scrape the mixture into the bowl of a food processor or the pitcher of a blender. Allow it to cool.
Clean the pan and replace it over medium heat, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of fat. Once the fat starts to melt and sizzle, add the dried livers and season with several healthy pinches of salt. Sauté the livers for about 3 – 4 minutes on each side. They should be medium rare; the texture and resulting flavor will change the longer they are cooked. Add the cooked livers to the food processor or blender, along with any remaining fat and juice in the pan.
Allow the livers and the leek mixture to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Set out a whisk, a spatula and two bowls, one for the whipping cream, and a second for a sieve. Process the liver mixture until very smooth, about 2 – 3 minutes, scraping down the sides a few times. Add a few more pinches of salt and a tablespoon or two of the beer and process again.
Pour and scrape out the liver mixture into the sieve. Using the back of a spatula, press the liver mixture through the screen to remove any tiny chunks from the finished mousse.
In the second bowl, whisk the cream into a thick consistency. Pour the liver mixture over the whipped cream and fold them together, creating a soft mousse. Taste the mousse and add more salt if needed.
Divide it into four 8-ounce ramekins or two larger bowls. Lightly tap the containers on the counter to level out the mousse and sprinkle the top with salt. Cover each container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set and allow the flavors to infuse together. The mousse will last for about seven days in the refrigerator and may be frozen for up to three months.
For the best texture and spreadability, remove ramekins from the refrigerator 20 – 30 minutes before serving. Uncover and place on a cutting board with different sliced breads, toasted crostini or artisan style crackers. I like to add micro greens, such as micro arugula or radish sprouts to lend a peppery note and crunch to the appetizer.