Faux Gras

Faux Gras Terrine with som fleur de sel and white truffle oil

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”.

Color looks right on the moneyI 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

Faux Gras Terrine on Brioche

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/ Christie @ fig&cherry

    Reading your post has made me feel so much better – I always rationalise eating it by saying the poor duck’s already dead too!

    AND – please tell me how you did it! Please!

  • http://www.figandcherry.com Christie @ fig&cherry

    Reading your post has made me feel so much better – I always rationalise eating it by saying the poor duck’s already dead too!

    AND – please tell me how you did it! Please!

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    Clap. Clap. Clap. (that’s the dramatic slow clap thing)

    Well done. Eating meat ain’t pretty, and foie gras isn’t even really the worst, but it’s always interesting to see a new way to get that unctuousness.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    Clap. Clap. Clap. (that’s the dramatic slow clap thing)

    Well done. Eating meat ain’t pretty, and foie gras isn’t even really the worst, but it’s always interesting to see a new way to get that unctuousness.

  • http://www.steamykitchen.com/ steamy kitchen

    i lovelovelove the real thing, but have also made faux gras with chicken liver. it’s just a massively messy mess pureeing livers!

  • http://www.steamykitchen.com steamy kitchen

    i lovelovelove the real thing, but have also made faux gras with chicken liver. it’s just a massively messy mess pureeing livers!

  • http://towarddust.blogspot.com/ jessy

    i really dislike pate, but this post made me almost want to eat some!

  • http://towarddust.blogspot.com/ jessy

    i really dislike pate, but this post made me almost want to eat some!

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    Well done! That’s a really great feat. It sure looks like the real thing though…lets hope you spill the beans on how you got it like that!

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    Well done! That’s a really great feat. It sure looks like the real thing though…lets hope you spill the beans on how you got it like that!

  • http://www.bdbrewing.com/ Piercival

    Hmmm…based on my experience with your cooking, I must assume you have done what you said and made an awesome facsimile of Foie Gras.

    But in the words of Dr. Strangelove “Vy didn’t you tell ze vorld?”

    I mean, it’s a bit like saying you have come up with the perfect substitute for crack -that keeps the pleasure aspect intact and gets rid of the negative sides. Then telling the crackheads they need to figure it out themselves.

    Well, of course we’re going to beg!!! Pleeeeeeeeeeease reveal the secret!!! (Unless you plan to sell it, then I understand).

  • http://www.bdbrewing.com Piercival

    Hmmm…based on my experience with your cooking, I must assume you have done what you said and made an awesome facsimile of Foie Gras.

    But in the words of Dr. Strangelove “Vy didn’t you tell ze vorld?”

    I mean, it’s a bit like saying you have come up with the perfect substitute for crack -that keeps the pleasure aspect intact and gets rid of the negative sides. Then telling the crackheads they need to figure it out themselves.

    Well, of course we’re going to beg!!! Pleeeeeeeeeeease reveal the secret!!! (Unless you plan to sell it, then I understand).

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com/ courtney

    I love Foie Gras. The ban was lifted here in Chicago. I consoled myself with making my homedae chooped liver that was a little more deluxe. Rather than chicken fat, I used duck fat,chicken livers, and topped it with a drizzle of Black Truffle oil. My friends and family are addicted to it. Maybe we have low iron or something. You have inspoired me to make some again.

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com courtney

    I love Foie Gras. The ban was lifted here in Chicago. I consoled myself with making my homedae chooped liver that was a little more deluxe. Rather than chicken fat, I used duck fat,chicken livers, and topped it with a drizzle of Black Truffle oil. My friends and family are addicted to it. Maybe we have low iron or something. You have inspoired me to make some again.

  • http://trivialounemtanto.blogspot.com/ Leonardo

    Hi, i’m a brazilian amateur cooker and i really love all parts of duck. foie gras is, of course, one of the most desirable things, although is something people feel bad to admit it. Could you reveal your recipe, in the blog (that would increase the page views) or for e-mail? Thank yopu anyway and i liked a lot to know your site. Best regards.

  • http://trivialounemtanto.blogspot.com Leonardo

    Hi, i’m a brazilian amateur cooker and i really love all parts of duck. foie gras is, of course, one of the most desirable things, although is something people feel bad to admit it. Could you reveal your recipe, in the blog (that would increase the page views) or for e-mail? Thank yopu anyway and i liked a lot to know your site. Best regards.

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com/ Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,C

    You big tease! However you made it, it looks wonderful!

    Oh, and you can sit by me at the next Foie Gras 12-step program meeting. ;)

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com/ Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,C

    You big tease! However you made it, it looks wonderful!

    Oh, and you can sit by me at the next Foie Gras 12-step program meeting. ;)

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    You big tease! However you made it, it looks wonderful!

    Oh, and you can sit by me at the next Foie Gras 12-step program meeting. ;)

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com/ Tartelette

    I have been spoiled with the real thing (first beau’s family made their own for sale) but I will take a sub for a weekday!
    Congrats on your company getting funded!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Tartelette

    I have been spoiled with the real thing (first beau’s family made their own for sale) but I will take a sub for a weekday!
    Congrats on your company getting funded!

  • http://mamastaverna.com/ Lulu Barbarian

    What a wonderful idea! I’m delurking to beg with the others. You know the begging will never stop. :-)

  • http://mamastaverna.com/ Lulu Barbarian

    What a wonderful idea! I’m delurking to beg with the others. You know the begging will never stop. :-)

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  • http://feistyfoodie.blogspot.com/ Yvo

    Ahhh, I came here from the NY Times article post and there’s no recipe!
    BTW — there is actually a humane way to raise foie gras. I can’t say for certain but I recall reading that a lot of the NY foie gras farms engage in the humane side of making foie gras; I want to say Hudson Valley farms was one of them. It’s one of those things that’s hushed up somehow because people like to feel bad about eating something that delicious, I think. ;p

  • http://feistyfoodie.blogspot.com Yvo

    Ahhh, I came here from the NY Times article post and there’s no recipe!
    BTW — there is actually a humane way to raise foie gras. I can’t say for certain but I recall reading that a lot of the NY foie gras farms engage in the humane side of making foie gras; I want to say Hudson Valley farms was one of them. It’s one of those things that’s hushed up somehow because people like to feel bad about eating something that delicious, I think. ;p

  • Shaffik (Chef)

    My dear, I you have just made my day. Keep that $#!+ under lock and key!

  • Shaffik (Chef)

    My dear, I you have just made my day. Keep that $#!+ under lock and key!

  • barneylow

    I'm opening a restaurant. Please reveal the secret to me. I'll share with you the profit for each Faux Gras sold. :)

  • Heidi

    I am not opening a restaurant nor will I profit from this secret other than for myself – but I simply LOVE fois gras! Ever since I left France, it's been so hard to find and most of all, it's so expensive in Canada. So please, please, please give me the recipe! Even the unperfected one would do. Qui ne demande rien n'obtient rien!

  • Kelly

    This, I will have to try! Yumm

  • Lisa

    Well, you’re not giving any hints, so I’m going to have to try myself, I guess. I’m thinking a liver/fat emulsion to start with…

  • nsx

    Foie gras isn’t inhumane, and foie gras production is much much more welfare conscious than most feedlots and pig farms out there. Why? Foie gras is a premium product, and you cannot produce good product with bad welfare. It is in the producer’s interest to treat their animals well. PETA and other animal rights organizations like to squawk on about the tube feeding and how it’s horrible and how would you like to have that done to you? Well, people are not ducks or geese. These birds have evolved to cram entire whole fish down their gullets, fins and all. They have entire rings of cartilage around their tracheas to keep them open while swallowing things several times the diameter of their necks (humans have c-shaped rings). Foie gras is also a natural thing, as Hank from Honest Foods has recently discovered, when he got himself a nice wild duck containing a lovely foie gras. Ducks and geese are migratory animals, and they store some of their excess energy in their livers to fuel their journeys. It is true that a fatty liver is a disease in mammals. As for that, I would like to repeat the seemingly common sense idea that ducks are not mammals, and they have different physiologies that suit their different lifestyles.

    If you want to spend time and money banning things, I would leave foie gras way down on the list, and start with industrial pig or chicken farming. Or better yet, work with the industry to improve welfare conditions that benefit both animal and farmer. Temple Grandin has shown that it can be done. Bawling on about the cruelty of foie gras is uninformed at best.

  • rrtt

    I agree 100 percent with you nsx. This method of feeding geese and ducks, is been done for centuries.  I really beleive it is ridiculous to ban this product, whichis natural and safe to eat. Then we should ban meat injected with hormones, that are dangerous for people.

  • Elie_2012

    can you please tell us the recipe on how to make it? please!

  • Ollie

    Congrats! Could you share me the recipe? Thanks in advance.

  • Freek

    So how inhumane of you is it not to share this recipe with us?

  • Søren Kühle

    Ohh come on. Do share this recipe!
    I’ve been trying to get it right for ages.

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