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Meat Hook butcher, author to teach in Austin next week

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Brooklynite Tom Mylan is one of those reformed vegans who now makes a living preaching from the Gospel of Better Meat.

In 2009, he opened the Meat Hook, a sustainable butcher shop in Williamsburg that launched Mylan’s career as an expert in cutting and cooking meat far beyond New York. He’ll be in Austin to teach a grilling class at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at Central Market North, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd. ($50, centralmarket.com), where he’ll prepare several dishes from his new book, “The Meat Hook Meat Book: Buy, Butcher, and Cook Your Way to Better Meat” (Artisan, $37.50).

I’m not convinced that most American home cooks are butchering their own meat these days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to know more about the cuts that we’re seeing at supermarkets and specialty butcher shops. Mylan’s book offers step-by-step photos to show you how to break down a number of animals, but the most helpful insight for most of us will come from his years of experience working with the meat he breaks down.

In the book, he shares recipes for everything from homemade chicken nuggets to smoked beef ribs, as well as tips on getting the most flavor out of fat and bones and advice for how to prepare the lesser-known cuts and offal that are often the most affordable at the store. This includes beef heart, pork trotters and chicken livers, which are used in a mousse recipe that Mylan swears takes less than half an hour.

Twenty-Minute Chicken Liver Mousse

You’ll need Mason jars, ramekins or a terrine mold in which to pour the 2 1/2 to 3 cups of mousse that this recipe makes.

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. 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 lbs., cleaned and rinsed

1/3 cup dry red wine

2/3 cup very cold heavy cream

8 Tbsp. (4 oz.) 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) 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 the pan with a paper towel and place over medium-high heat. Add 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 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.

Pass the blended livers through a fine sieve and pour the mousse into the mold(s) of your choice and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. The mousse will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 week. Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer or snack.

— From “The Meat Hook Meat Book: Buy, Butcher, and Cook Your Way to Better Meat” by Tom Mylan (Artisan, $37.50)