We’re big fans of The Meat Hook, a badass butcher shop in Brooklyn. (Emily has known the butcher, Tom Mylan, since her days as a food writer in New York, and it was the first place she wanted to take Kyle when he visited the city with her.) We’re also big fans of chicken liver mousse. So, when we got our hands on an early copy of Mylan’s The Meat Hook Meat Book, we knew his Twenty-Minute Chicken Liver Mousse would be the first thing we’d make. It calls for two kinds of booze!

In addition to featuring wine and brandy, this recipe is the perfect mix of manly (cooking with organ meat!) and fancy (“May we offer you some house-made charcuterie?”). It’s also super easy. Even though it took us about 30 minutes instead of the promised 20, that’s still far less time than it takes to make Julia Child’s version of the same dish — and it’s just as good.

If you’re going to choose one ingredient on which to splurge, it should definitely be the livers, not the booze (for the wine, we used a Chianti left over from a dinner party). Since we’re in Kansas City now, we couldn’t buy our livers at The Meat Hook, but we got them from a local farm where we also get our eggs and whole chickens.

We suggest serving this on grilled bread with either cornichons and dijon mustard or fig jam, but you might just want to dip a finger in it.

Twenty-Minute Chicken Liver Mousse
Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer or snack

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil or chicken fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper
2 thyme sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
1/3 cup port or brandy
6 whole chicken livers (or 12 split pieces), about 1 1/2 pounds, cleaned and rinsed
1/3 cup dry red wine
2/3 cup very cold heavy cream
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cream cheese, sliced into tablespoon-sized chunks, chilled

In a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet, cook the onion slices in the olive oil (or chicken fat, if you have some lying around) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are caramelized and brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer.


Add 1 sprig each of the thyme, oregano, and rosemary and smash them in with the onions. Deglaze your pan with the port, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the good bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl, pulling out the herbs and discarding them, and let cool.

Wipe out your pan with a paper towel and place over medium-high heat. Add your livers and sauté until browned on both sides but still medium-rare, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the remaining herb sprigs and deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook just until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes; don’t let the livers start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer the livers to a plate or bowl to cool, discarding the herbs.


Toss the cooled livers and onion into a blender (a food processor will also work, but a blender will yield a smoother texture) and turn it on. After the livers have been spinning for about a minute, slowly add the cream and cream cheese and blend to a puree. Taste for seasoning. The mousse should be slightly salty; if it’s not, add more salt 1/2 teaspoon at a time. You can add more black pepper too, if you wish.

Recipe excerpted from The Meat Hook Meat Book by Tom Mylan (Artisan Books).

See all Cooking With Booze