I’m celebrating with a glass of Riesling right now. Why the celebration? Well, there’s lots to celebrate: the beautiful weather in NYC, my company getting funded, the fact that this blog blew past it’s previous record of visitors in one day today (currently at 1,565 and counting), but this is not what I’m celebrating.
I succeeded in making a substitute for Foie Gras that could pass for the real thing. This was my first attempt and I expected it to go horribly wrong, so I didn’t actually write down a recipe, but I’m so excited that it worked that I just had to post.
Foie Gras literally means “fat liver” as is made by force feeding ducks. I’ll omit the gory details of the process, but needless to say, it’s pretty inhumane. The liver of these poor ducks end up swelling by up to 10x their normal size making them taste incredible. If you’ve never had it before it’s a little hard to describe, but it’s like a more ephemeral version of butter that practically vapourizes on contact with your mouth, exploding into a rich serum of flavour as it rises in temperature.
Due to the cruelty involved in its production, it’s been banned in many places around the world. I’m a bit like a crack-addict in the sense that I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t help ordering it when I see it on a menu (I know, I’m a terrible person), coming up with excuses like “the duck has already been killed anyway” and “it won’t be long before they ban it here, so I should enjoy it while I still can”. But in my heart I know it’s wrong and that I’m probably going to hell over an hors d’oeuvre.
The idea came to me the other day when I was roasting a duck. With the exception of foie gras, I really dislike liver. Whole ducks of course come with a liver, and I always feel bad about throwing it out, you’re also left with an enormous amount of rendered duck fat. It occurred to me, that all foie gras is, is liver from a really obese duck. This got me wondering if it would be possible to infuse a regular liver with fat to make it taste more like foie gras.
Certain that I wasn’t the first person to think of this, I went on the Internet looking for a recipe. What I found was a bunch of pâtés with butter mixed into it. I’m sure they’re tasty, but most of the recipes admited that it wasn’t the same. They generally looked brown and slightly mealy like a regular pâté which is a far cry from the smooth glistening dusty pink terrines that one would visualize when they think “foie gras”.
I started to wonder if it was even possible, but after some thought I decided to give it a go anyhow. Two days and a bit of molecular gastronomy later I had a ramekin of faux gras that was a dead ringer for the real deal. That’s not to say it was perfect. I went light on the seasoning so I actually had to sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel and white truffle oil over to enhance the flavor, and it was a bit more ducky than I would like, but I have ideas on how to fix this for the next time.
It was light biege on the outside, and a dusty pink on the inside. The terrine glistened and had none of the chalkiness or bloody taste that pâtés do. Most importantly, it mimicked the melty thing almost perfectly.
It’s still horribly unhealthy and vegetarians might still consider it “inhumane”, but as a meat eater I feel better about not wasting a perfectly good liver that was spared the fate of growing up in a foie gras farm.
I’m sure I’m not the first, and won’t be the last to figure this out, but I still felt a bit like Indiana Jones having just discovered the Holy Grail. I could tell you how I did it, but that would spoil some of the fun of figuring it out for yourself;-P