Okay, letâ€™s get on a Concord and shoot over to the other end of the food/cost spectrum. Following yesterdayâ€™s post on one peso pan de sals, I thought it would be jarring to head over to foie gras territory. The enlarged liver of a goose or duck (in this case, the latter), this near solid piece of fat is the stuff of culinary dreams. Oddly, I canâ€™t seem to take most other livers in abundance such as a cowâ€™s liver or chicken livers, but the allure, texture, reputation and ultimately taste of a terrific foie gras is, well, incredibly memorable. At something totally outrageous like PHP2,400 for a large (two-lobed) roughly 600 gram French sourced foie gras, that made about 12 nice sized (50 gram) starters, or PHP200 per guest, was this delicacy worth it? I thought so and it was certainly a lot cheaper than if I ordered it at a snazzy restaurant. The problem is, I pretty much screwed up the two attempts at foie gras this yearâ€¦
I donâ€™t cook this bundle of fat too often, maybe once or twice around the holidays or for a special birthday or anniversary. So itâ€™s like I am preparing it for the first time every time I get it. I bought two large lobes at Terry’s Selection on Pasong Tamo. The first problem is de-veining the liver, then you have to remember to soak it overnight in milk to remove some of the blood particles and potential bitterness. Then you have to keep it cold, slice it thickly (not too thin please!) then throw it in a searing hot pan and voila! Perfection! Or so I always thought. The first problem is the quality of foie to begin with. The best foies are reputedly from France, though the reality is much of what is commercially available today were actually from force-fed Eastern European domiciled geese or ducks, and the packaging is nebulous. Vendors always say it is from France but can’t guarantee it wasn’t first a resident elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Horrors, even more shocking, is that there is a LOT of foie coming out of Southern China, or at least there was, until the whole bird-flu brouhaha. Next, you have to worry about how the foie was stored in the transport to Asia and while it was waiting for a sucker like me to buy it at PHP4,000 a kilo.
Actually, most chefs love this ingredient because it is relatively easy to prep and cook and they get a nice mark-up on it. The first time I served it last December as a starter, I nearly had a five-alarm smoke alert as the kitchen and my crew were nearly choked to death by the fumes! At that time, I didnâ€™t get a nice crust to my foie and it was a bit too buttery softâ€¦I thought as a result of an overly hot pan and too warm foie to begin with. Never mind the looks, however, it still tasted great. And I paired it with a mangosteen jam and brandy sauce and served it with buttercake biscocho from Vargas. Letâ€™s just say it was a bit over the top, but delicious nonetheless. But a few weeks later I made a second attempt at the foie and started out with a colder liver and thought things would be fine. The result was better than the first but still nowhere near restaurant quality. That is, until someone told me, I should have dredged the pieces in some flour before throwing them onto a hot pan. Darn! I have to remember that the next time I try cooking this incredible ingredient. The second time around, I served the foie with some diced green apples sautÃ©ed in butter. The mangosteen and brandy jam version was better. If you have any advice on cooking this, please leave a comment hereâ€¦I will use it the next time I cook foieâ€¦in a year or so!