Mousse de foie de volaille (chicken liver pâté)

But first of all, a (not so) short blurb about pâté, terrine, mousse, rillettes... What are they and what is difference between those terms? Originally, I mean back to the Middle-Age or the like, there were pâtés and terrines, and the difference between those two referred to how they were cooked, and more important than cooking, in which they were preserved. As a matter of fact, more than cooking, preserving was the key thing. Their names give you the clue as they designated the container in which they were cooked.
Pâté comes from pâte, i.e. dough. As in most cases in French, the circumflex reflects a "s" lost during the transition from the Latin or the Old French to the Modern French. Pâte was paste, a root that you can retrieve in pasta or pastry. So, a "pâté" was just meat cooked in a dough, a meat pie. From the container and the way of cooking, it has evolved over the time to designate, in charcuterie (ftr, charcuterie means "cooked meat" too), a meat processed (ground, hashed, shredded...) and cooked for a purpose of conservation.
Terrine refers also to the container, the terrine, i.e. a dishware made in “terre”, i.e. terra cotta (same Latin root, terra, i.e. soil and often, in pottery, clay). Like often, the content took the name of the container.
Therefore, except their way of cooking, nothing differentiates a terrine from a pâté, all the more so as, if terrines are still cooked, and served, a terrine dish, pâté doesn’t refer anymore to a meat cooked in a pastry crust, except for the theoretically redundant “pâté en croute”. Pâté now refers to all type of processed meat in a purpose of conservation, either pâtés or terrines… Pâté conveys the image of a generally thinly ground and industrially processed product, and terrine more that of an artisan-made and manually cut/hashed product… Which marketers totally integrated and didn’t hesitate to call terrine industrially-made pâté. It sounds more like “terroir”…
Regarding mousse and rillettes, this is easier. Rillettes are made from meat (pig, duck, goose, and by extension other meat, rabbit, turkey -I made a delicious rillette with Thanksgiving turkey leftover) that are simmered in their or added fat several hours before being manually or mechanically shredded and conserved in the fat. Mousse refers to the texture, soft and silky, of meat cooked then very thinly mixed, and sometimes strained, to obtain the texture of a mousse. In this respect the liver pâté featured here is a mousse.
The recipe of the liver pâté ("mousse de foie de volaille") featured here will be shorter than the above blurb!!! Of course, there are more sophisticated recipes involving eggs, mushrooms, bain-marie cooking…


Levels of difficulty

30 minutes
>48 hours
<5 minutes="" o:p="">

Ingredients 4 small jars

§  a bit less than 1 lb. of chicken livers
§  8 oz. of room temperature (salted) butter, cut in 1 oz. pieces
§  2 tbsp. of duck fat
§  0,5 cups of crème fraîche
§  4 shallots,  chopped
§  0.5 cup of Alsace's Gewürztraminer (but Port is generally used, and nothing prevent you from using other fortified and/or from adding brandy like Cognac or Armagnac).
§  Fresh (or dried) thyme, bay leaves and allspices
§  Salt (fleur de sel) and pepper or piment d’Espelette

§  Put the duck fat in a large skillet (you want all the livers to be in direct contact with the heat, otherwise, reduce the quantity of livers)
§  When the duck fat is hot, put and spread regularly the livers in the skillet and sear them without stirring them, for around 2 minutes.
§  Add the herbs and shallots
§  Flip the livers on their other side and sear them for 1 more minute, the objective being to start to caramelize the outside while keeping the inside medium rare to keep them moist
§  When done, remove the bay leaves and thyme sprig, put the whole in a high-speed blender, start blending at moderate speed, add the butter progressively while increasing the speed up to the highest speed and blend till obtaining a smooth texture
§  Set back on moderate speed, add the crème fraîche and mix again to fully mix the crème, but as short as possible as you don’t want to heat the crème fraîche
§  Adjust the seasoning
§  Pour in jars, place a transparent film directly in contact with the mousse to reduce the oxidation, close hermetically the jar, and keep 2 or 3 days in the fridge before consuming them