We have been big fans of Carolina Wild Juice since we heard of their plans to do for the muscadine what Pom did for pomegranates. We have carefully watched their progress and got in on the first batch of orders. As with so many start-ups, there have been a few glitches, but all is going well, just a tad slower than originally thought.
Every week, it would seem, we e-mailed owners Dennis Tracz and Elizabeth Maxwell asking about our juice. Yes, we do think of it as "our" juice. It seems that Vivian Howard thinks of it as "her" juice. Fine! Carolina Wild is one of the sponsors of “A Chef’s Life,” and the show did win a Peabody and was nominated for a James Beard Award, so we are not too upset that she gets our juice.
The other day, Elizabeth sent an e-mail, followed by a first taste of Carolina Wild. The e-mail said try it really cold with lots of ice, or with soda, or even with ginger ale. So we followed instructions.
Carolina Wild taste like a memory. Our house in Alabama had lush, muscadine vines, and there is nothing like the rich, pulpy taste bursting out of the those thick skins. Opening the bottle, one can smell that earthy, warm Southern soil. We worried that it might be cloying, but one sip and that idea melted away. The sweetness dissipates and a warm spice lingers.
We have actually been waiting for our Carolina Wild to cook with. Our first recipe is a chicken liver paté. The rich chicken livers are counterbalanced with the bracing layer of Carolina Wild aspic.
Carolina Wild Chicken Liver Paté
1 pound chicken livers, patted dry
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 medium onion chopped, about 3/4 cup
1 finely chopped clove garlic
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups Carolina Wild Juice
1 packet gelatin
1. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter over medium heat until melted. Add onions, cooking until slightly softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook 1 minute. Add chicken livers, salt, pepper, and ground cloves and cook about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not be tempted to overcook the chicken livers; they should be firm, but still pink in the middle. Add bourbon, cooking another 1 minute to burn off the alcohol. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes.
2. Transfer mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth. With machine running, add remaining 3/4 cups butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.
3. Fill small glasses with the mixture, allowing at least 1/2 inch for the jelly. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
4. Place 1 cup Carolina Wild into a 16 ounce glass measuring cup with a pouring spout and sprinkle with the gelatin, allowing to bloom, about 5 minutes.
5. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup juice until hot, do not bring to a boil. Add the hot juice to the bloomed gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Allow to cool about 5 minutes.
6. Remove the chilled chicken liver and gently pour the gelatin to cover, being careful not to disturb the soft, chicken liver paté. Return to the refrigerator and allow to set for at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers or bread.