Some time ago, I wrote about the controversy surrounding the production of foie gras and the fact that many people perceive it as being cruel. Indeed, as I mentioned in the article, it’s banned in many countries. However, I have often hankered after cooking foie gras myself, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance. I didn’t realise it was going to be such a tricky – and yukky – job. I’d not recommend this to the faint-hearted.
First, you’ll need to buy the foie gras, ie the enlarged liver of a duck or goose. I found mine in the freezer compartment of a French supermarket in SE Asia.
I was a bit unsure of how to go about cooking it and after a fairly futile search of my cookbooks, I did at least find a good video of a foie gras terrine. See how easy this guy makes it look to remove the veins! I’m afraid that I displayed no such expertise.
First I cut into the lobe to give me access to the inside. So far, so good.
Next I started pulling out the veins. Now, what you have to remember is that foie gras is about 90% fat and it handles just like butter. I guess I could have used a tweezers like the chef in the video, but my hands were cool and I kept them that way with cold water. Even so, I was melting the foie gras by handling it. Tsk.
Look at the mess I got into!
I needed a Plan B fast before I destroyed the whole (very expensive) liver. Given that I was having no luck at all in removing the veins without making such a mess of the organ, I decided to cut what remained of the liver into medallions, cook it veins-in, then remove any boingy bits after the event by passing the cooked livers through a fine-meshed sieve to make paté. By the way, I also cooked up my bits and bobs of off-cuts which were the result of my vein-removing efforts.
I followed exactly the same method I came up with for pork liver paté, which is based on Nigel Slater’s recipe for chicken paté.
Basically you just cook the liver pieces to brown them nicely on the outside. Then you blitz them up with a bit of cream and other flavourings, if wanted. Then you pass the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve.
Here’s a photo of the foie gras medallions in the frying pan. Do not add any oil or fat. Remember how much fat content there already is in the liver itself. Use a very hot pan because you don’t want to over-cook these, and in any case, they disappear before your eyes as the fat renders down. You need to be quick.
Just do them as quickly as you can to get a nice colour on both sides.
Now take your cooked pieces of liver and proceed to make a paté just like the pork one I mentioned before.
For other suggestions of what to do with foie gras, I recommend having a look at this other website.
And here is a photo of the finished paté in its ramekin. After all that faff, I wasn’t really up to taking an arty photo of the finished dish!
Good luck if you try to make paté de foie gras! Alternatively, you might prefer to make my easy mushroom paté recipe.
Please do write in and let me know how you get on.