MAKES 3 1/2 CUPS
Bill Neal learned how to make this silken, old-fashioned pâté from Judith Olney, Richard Olney's sister-in-law and herself a cooking teacher. Later, it became a staple at the Neals' Chapel Hill–area bistro, La Résidence. A small tureen of the creamy mousse was delivered to every table, accompanied by crunchy French bread.
1 cup chopped onions or shallots
1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
1 lb. chicken livers
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
3 tbsp. brandy or cognac
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
French bread or crackers
1. Sauté the onions in 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat until translucent. Add chicken livers to the onions and sauté until they are cooked through but not overdone, about 5–8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
2. Put into a food processor the onions, livers, mustard, brandy, and seasonings. Process the mixture until thoroughly puréed. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups softened butter in fourths, pulsing briefly after each addition. Spoon the mousse into an attractive small tureen or into ramekins and chill until solid (at least an hour) before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired and serve with sliced French bread or crackers.