Sustainable cooking in the home kitchen talks to San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino about sustainable eating in, Head to Tail.

'Sustainable eating,' according to Chef Cosentino's eco-friendly culinary sensibility towards food and its preparation, encompasses the use of sustainably grown produce, humane animal husbandry, and an overall obsession with care and respect for the planet and the environment. 'Head to tail' cooking can be traced back to just about every cultural cuisine in the world, such as the Native American community who wasted no part of the buffalo.

I am a believer in sustainable eating as well, and have been trying to eat locally for a long time. More recently I've been adding the "whole animal" approach to my dining, both at home and while out. And I'll admit, it's a bit of a challenge. The other night I was having some friends over for dinner, so I decided I'd make this chicken liver mousse recipe from Gourmet (Mar 06). It was my first real experience with chicken livers. Previously my interaction with them involved removing them from the chicken, prior to roasting, and throwing them in the trash. Once I put them in a baggie and froze them.

I bought approximately a pound of fresh organic chicken livers at Whole Foods. I "cleaned" them, which I had no idea really how to do and ended up with a rather bloody mess on my cutting board as I removed some veins and fat. Honestly, it turned my stomach, but I forced myself to do it if I wanted to be a real "chef". Once that was done, it was pretty much smooth sailing, except that I put all the ingredients in a shallow bowl, and when I put my hand blender in and turned it on, some bloody liver bits went flinging out and stuck themselves to various appliances (toaster, stand mixer) and kitchen items (tea kettle, tiles) and clothing (my green sweater, should have worn a white coat!).

Aside from the horror filmness of it all, the mousse turned out lovely and was a delicious opening to a delightful dinner. I plan to make it again, and to experiment with other animal parts, and to continue to eat them when I'm out to dinner as well. That is, at least, until something goes horribly wrong and I eat something so gross that I revert to vegetarianism forever.