After the first course of tuna tartare, we shifted from raw and piquant flavors to a rich and buttery seared foie gras, with some sauteed green apples and plated with a garnish of fresh pomegranate “seeds”… I took one horrible and unusable photo of the foie, so I don’t have a picture of the actual dish served that night. But I do have photos of three other ways I prepared the extra foie gras in the days that followed that dinner. Foie gras is one of those things that intimidate home cooks. But with some self-confidence and the following tips, you should be able to cook this at home with just a little bit of practice. First of all, you must buy as fresh a foie gras as possible and if it is frozen, keep it frozen until a few hours before use, whereupon I take it out of the freezer for roughly 30 minutes on a kitchen counter, then back into the refrigerator to defrost for a few hours before cooking it. The foie MUST remain quite cold or you will have nothing more than an oil puddle when you cook it.
When it is soft and pliable, you need to devein the foie gras which involves carefully removing the large vein that runs through the two lobes of the liver. It is a bit messy, but quite easy to do. Try to do this as neatly as possible. And you also need to do it quickly so the liver doesn’t heat up too much and melt. Once deveined, slice it into 3/4 to 1 inch thick pieces, lay this on a plate and return to the coldest part of your refrigerator to chill it up again.
Just before cooking, take the foie out of the fridge, heat up a cast iron pan over high heat until hot, not smoking hot, and lower the flame to medium high. Meanwhile, score each piece of foie gras and season well with flaky sea salt, such as Maldon. Then add one piece to your cast iron pan and it should sizzle nicely if the temperature is just right. If the pan isn’t hot enough, you won’t get a nice brown caramelized color, and you risk the entire piece of foie gras simply melting away. After about 30-60 seconds, gently turn the piece over and cook another 30-45 seconds and it is done. Yup, it is indeed that simple. But lots of things can go wrong if you do not pay attention to the instructions above. Keep the uncooked foie chilled. Use a pan heated up enough but not scorching, and cook until just done on both sides. Do not cut the foie too thinly. Have everything ready when you start the cooking process. Many chefs suggest putting the cooked foie on a paper towel to drain off excess oil, but I don’t… why waste all that flavor goodness, and if you are worried about fat, why eat foie???
Look at the photo up top and the one above closely. There are two pieces of foie in the photo. The one on top of this salad dish is nicely done, in my opinion, and below it is a piece that was put onto the pan before it was hot enough… it looks positively anaemic. But I wasn’t going to throw it out. These seared pieces of foie were served on a small green salad with a strawberry (I didn’t have raspberries) vinaigrette. The dressing was both a bit acidic and fruity and this was a good foil for the rich foie gras. I like this classic set up of crisp light greens with intense slice of duck liver.
Another way to serve the foie is with some fruit, in this case cubed green apples sauteed in duck fat and butter and seasoned with a touch of salt. You may also add brown sugar to give it a sweeter note and again the acid and sweetness are a good foil for the foie grass. For the blogger’s dinner, I made an accompaniment of julienned green apples with some butter, apple butter and sugar. It was good, but in retrospect, not as good as this final preparation that I made just last night…
A generous slice of seared foie gras on top of dried figs sauteed in brandy and butter. The figs were sliced into medium sized pieces and placed in a small saucepan. I drizzled roughly 2 tablespoons of brandy over the figs and let them soak for a few minutes, then added a nice size knob of butter and simmered over medium heat until the liquid had reduced into a light syrup and the figs were just nicely caramelized and a bit sticky. I placed a small mound of the figs on a plate, then laid the foie on top. This last version was my favorite. And again, so easy to do. If you assume that you purchase a 500 gram foie for PHP2,500 or US$60. but you cut it into 8-9 generous portions, that comes out to about PHP300 per portion with other ingredients, each appetizer would run roughly PHP350, not bad considering you would probably have to pay PHP1,000+ for that at a fancy restaurant. As for the blogger’s dinner, when all was said and done, I asked the guests if they wanted more foie and we managed to finish all of the pieces that I had defrosted… a good 65 grams each on average that night… Delicious and nutritious, I am sure. After all, it IS liver, right? :)