17 February 2010


When dad's birthday or Father's Day rolled around at the Coates house, one recipe was a foolproof way to honor the Man of The Hill. The Silver Palate "Good Times" Cookbook was one that I pored over, for hours upon hours, as a young girl. I was delighted and intrigued by the pen drawings with their little stipple marks and fanciful representations of asparagus spears and cross sections of fresh figs. The page that bears the following recipe is now stained with years-old bacon grease and brandy splashes and smells faintly of nutmeg. I could eat an entire baguette's worth of this stuff, it's so damned good. Dad, he loves his chicken livers and will stop at nothing to win the delicious nuggets when mom roasts a chicken. Only problem now is that he's got a son-in-law who will put forth his best and sneakiest effort to beat him to the punch. This way, everyone wins.

Chicken Liver Mousse With Bacon and Walnuts
8 slices bacon, diced
1 pound chicken livers
½ cup brandy
¾ cup heavy cream
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup Kraft mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Large pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Crumbled crisp bacon and chopped fresh Italian parsley, or whole walnut meats and chopped parsley (garnish)

One day before serving, fry the diced bacon in a medium-size skillet until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Sauté the livers in the hot bacon fat over medium-high heat until brown on the outside but still pink inside, 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Pour the brandy into the skillet over medium heat and stir, scraping loose browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to about 1 cup.

Process the livers, onion, and reduced cream in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until smooth.

Add the mayonnaise, thyme, nutmeg, salt to taste, and lots of pepper. Process until smooth. Add the diced bacon, walnuts, and 3 tablespoons parsley and process just until blended.

Transfer the liver mixture to a crock or decorative serving dish and refrigerate covered, overnight, to allow the flavors to blend.

Garnish the pate with crumbled bacon and parsley or walnuts and parsley. Serve with crusty bread or assorted crackers.