State Bird Provisions is one of San Francisco’s culinary crown jewels. Michelin-starred chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski continually wow their guests with menus that borrow from a wide world of techniques, ingredients and presentations, and create some of the most innovative and delicious plates in the country. This duck liver mousse on warm duck fat infused savory pastry will have people reaching for their phones. First one to Instagram wins!
Don’t forget to check out our recent interview with them on our Food Republic Today podcast!
For Nicole’s first attempt at financiers, little French almond cakes, she followed a recipe from a cookbook whose author called for cream and honey, and that unconventional rendition became her tradition. It stuck with her even after she eventually came across the classic version in Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course (spoiler alert: no cream, no honey). Since Nicole’s financiers were already deliciously wacky, she decided to take the fun one step further, substituting the brown butter with duck fat. In one of the earliest collaborations between the savory and pastry sides of the State Bird kitchen, we paired the sweet cake with an unexpected French friend: duck liver mousse.
Both components are simpler than you might think. For the financiers, you mix a simple batter in a bowl and bake it in little molds. For the mousse, you make a duck liver milk shake (that’s how we think of it), bake it, then blend in lots of butter. When you swipe a warm financier through the satiny mousse, each bite makes the same delicious sense as buttered cornbread (more so if the mousse is smeared on top with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper). The mousse makes more than you need at one serving. It keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- 1/2 pound duck livers, trimmed of stringy white membrane
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon dry Madeira, plus 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon tawny port, plus 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 turns freshly ground black pepper
- 2 dashes tabasco sauce
- Generous 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom or wildflower honey
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons rendered duck fat, warm
- flaky sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the mousse
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the duck livers, cream, 1 tablespoon Madeira, 1 tablespoon port, egg, salt, pepper, Tabasco and nutmeg in a blender. Purée until very smooth, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small ovenproof pot, stirring the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
Put the pot with the duck mixture in a baking dish or roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Pour enough steaming hot water into the baking dish to reach the same level as the duck liver mixture. Tightly cover the pot with aluminum foil and bake in the water bath until the mixture has mostly set but the center still jiggles when you shake the pot, 30 to 35 minutes. You may see some cracks on the surface — that’s nothing to worry about.
Combine the hot duck mixture and butter in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the remaining ½ tsp Madeira and ½ tsp port and blend briefly to mix well.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate until chilled and thickened to a creamy consistency, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
For the financiers
Sift the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and kosher salt into a small mixing bowl. Add the almond meal and stir well.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream, honey, and egg whites and whisk until the honey dissolves. Add the flour mixture to the cream mixture and whisk until completely smooth. About a third at a time, whisk in the warm duck fat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 days.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two silicone molds with nonstick cooking spray and put them on a large baking sheet.
Evenly divide the batter among each mold, stopping just below the rim.
Bake until the financiers are golden brown and rise slightly above the rim of the molds, about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Remove the financiers from the molds, transfer to a platter, and top with a shmear of mousse. Crumble on the sea salt and sprinkle with pepper. Serve right away.