Smooth Operator

An old menu item revived through concord grape and a retexturizing process

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Like most great dishes, Salazar’s chicken liver mousse achieves a perfect balance of traditional technique, chance ingredients, and seemingly divine inspiration. The tradition is French: soaking livers in milk to remove traces of blood and to mellow the liver’s metallic taste; searing the livers in butter; blending it all together; and finally cooking it in a water bath. Next comes those chance ingredients—fresh Concord grapes. After putting up a batch of grape preserves, chef de cuisine Andy Hiner remembered Salazar’s original chicken liver mousse dish, since retired from the menu. Why not revive it—but with a twist? The Concord grape preserves would add brightness, and cocoa nibs (also in the old version) would add textural variety and a hint of bitterness to balance the creamy, herbal notes. Finally, inspiration: Hiner thought to pass the cooked mixture through a fine sieve for a super silky texture. He then piped the light and airy mousse into a jar; layered on the preserves, nibs, and salt; and served it with freshly grilled bread. The result? A dozen or so rich, perfect bites that are the ideal foil to a glass of pinot noir, or perhaps a cocktail, like the one we tried: a Prince’s Potion, made of huckleberry shrub and gin. (That was a one-off special, but your bartender will be happy to recommend something.) Wary of tucking into a jar of liver? Fear not. This smooth spread is poised to become your best new drinking buddy.

Check out our Best Restaurants 2017 review of Salazar

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