Luxurious, smooth foie gras no longer has to be a treat reserved for restaurants. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create the French version of the rich appetizer.
By Tamara Novakovic
Foie gras is a famous French delicacy, mostly prepared for special occasions due to the expense of top-quality duck or goose liver. There is certain controversy surrounding the production of liver suitable for foie gras, which involves specially fattened animals, but it hasn’t changed the fact that foie gras has been one of the most famous symbols of extraordinary French cuisine and heritage, protected by law.
Foie gras is goose (sometimes duck) liver pate (it can also be prepared as a mousse or parfait) and requires very few ingredients, but which need to be of high quality. Its taste is rich, specific and the texture resembles that of butter. In order to prepare it right, the liver has to have as few veins as possible, because they’re very unpleasant when eating the pate, and it needs to have high fat content. If you’re using fresh liver, make sure to remove all veins, but don’t cut them out, instead try to pull them with your fingers. If you’re dealing with frozen liver, it is usually sold already cleaned. The liver needs to be slowly and gradually defrosted about 24 hours before preparation.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend show me how to make foie gras on one of my trips to France. There are several ways of preparing this specialty. It needs to be cooked with temperatures because goose fat melts quickly (unlike duck fat, which is often used for foie gras outside France). The liver is baked in ceramic pots which are placed in water baths (the so called bain-marie technique).
When cooked, it needs to be pressed with some kind of weight and refrigerated for three days. The final result is a smooth and silky texture. In France, foie gras is seasoned with fleur de sel, pepper and prepared with sweet white wine (often Sauternes), which can be substituted for brandy or cognac.
It is most often served as an appetizer on a piece of baguette or pain d’epices (sweet ginger and cinnamon bread). The rich taste and thick, smooth texture of foie gras pairs perfectly with sweet flavors, so you will often see onion or chestnut marmalade served alongside. You can also play with other flavors, such as plums or figs. Make sure to serve it with a sweet wine, similar to the one you used for preparation.
- 21.1 oz (600 g) goose liver
- ⅓ cup (70 ml) sweet, dry white wine (muscat, sauternes)
- freshly ground pepper
- fleur de sel
- If you are using frozen liver, defrost it 24 hours before preparation in your fridge.
- Preheat oven to 212F (100C).
- Separate it into two lobes (you will see the natural line for separation, just follow it).
- Cut out all red spots and remove any leftover veins.
- Sprinkle both lobes with freshly ground pepper and salt and place them into ceramic baking pan.
- Cover with wine.
- Place the pan into a larger baking pan filled with water.
- Bake it for 40 minutes.
- After baking, uncover and using your spoon collect the fat that surfaced on top. Save the fat in separate bowl.
- Cover the top of the foie gras with some kind of weight.
- Remove the weight after 30 minutes, but leave covered and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Remove the cover. Pour the fat that you had saved after baking, over the foie gras (you have to melt it before).
- Leave foie gras refrigerated for 48 hours.
- Cut slices and serve.