This “recipe” almost feels like cheating. Realistically, I didn’t have to do all that much. Simply getting your hands on the foie gras itself is 90% of the battle. As Thomas Keller so elegantly puts it in The French Laundry Cookbook: “The great thing about foie gras is that it is foie gras – like the great thing about caviar is that it’s caviar. You don’t have to do anything to it.”
I have always had a passionate love affair with foie gras. I remember the first time I ever had it was at Pano and Paul’s in Atlanta. It was served pan seared over a steak and drizzled with truffle oil. Come to think of it, I think that was also the first time I ever had truffle as well. Damn…talk about a palate-changing meal! I saw God that day, and he came to me in the form of excessively fatty duck liver.
For all of the times that I have eaten foie gras in a restaurant, I realized last week that I had never prepared it myself. I decided it was time to remedy that.
As I said, the first and sometimes most difficult step to preparing foie gras is getting it. For those of you that are around Atlanta, the only places that I am aware of that carry it are Star Provisions and occasionally the NY Butcher Shoppe (where I got this particular hunk of deliciousness). If you aren’t lucky enough to live somewhere that foie gras is readily available, you can order it online at gourmetfoodstore.com or directly from Hudson Valley. If you want the smooth, buttery flavor that that foie gras is known for I would recommend only buying Grade A. It has the highest fat content and least amount of veins.
Regarding the best way to prepare foie gras, some purists will recommend a terrine or confit. I’m not a purist. I wanted to pan sear mine, and decided to serve it on toast, 2 ways.
First, I took a highly refrigerated lobe of foie gras and cut it into slices, about 1/2-3/4 in. thick. I then cut most of the slices in half, to make them the right size for the toast.
If you let this get too warm before you cut it, it can become too malleable and difficult to work with. You have to be careful when slicing this, as it can crumble. Make sure you use a very sharp knife and slice in a single, smooth cut. Put these back in the refrigerator to continue chilling until it is time to sear them, which you will do just before serving.
I then sliced and toasted pieces of ciabatta bread, but you can use whatever type of bread you prefer. I went with ciabatta because they were out of brioche at the store.
I did two different toppings for the toast. First was a combination of two store bought ingredients – Emily G’s Tipsy Onion and Garlic and some balsamic glaze. By the way, this is the first of Emily G’s Jams of Love that I have purchased, and I will be buying more. This was a great savory/sweet accompaniment to the foie gras.
Next were some sautéed cinnamon apples. Nothing too complicated here, just diced granny smith apples sautéed over medium heat with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. And lots of butter, because that’s how I get down.
When it comes time to sear your foie gras, don’t bother adding any oil or fat to the pan. The foie gras brings all the fat to this party that you will need. Heat your pan on high and place a few slices in at a time. Be warned – this is going to get smoky as all hell. You better be able to pop open a window, or at least remove the batteries from your smoke detector, or else its going to get smoky AND loud in the kitchen. In fact, the column of smoke billowing off of my stove-top made taking any pictures of the cooking process pointless.
You don’t want to leave the foie gras on the pan for longer than 30-45 seconds per side. If you overcook it, it will literally liquefy, and you will be left with a very expensive pan of fatty duck liver soup. Because of the timing involved with this, I wouldn’t recommend searing more than 3-4 pieces at a time. Depending on how many pieces you are searing, you will also probably have to periodically drain some of the rendered fat from the pan, as a lot of fat will accumulate and will only make the smoking worse.
Place the seared foie gras pieces onto toast, with the toppings (apples/jam) in the middle. Serve and enjoy watching your guests’ eyes roll into the backs of their heads.
1lb Grade A or Grade B foie gras, sliced 1/2 in. thick and then halved.
2 tablespoons of butter (I went heavier than this on the butter…more like 4-5, but even I know that is a little excessive)
3 Granny smith apples, cored and diced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
20 pieces of brioche or ciabatta toast
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