Sunday, November 20, 2011

Foie Gras aux Pruneaux

I made this dish for some friends the other day. It was the first time I've ever cooked foie gras, and I must say that was intimidated by the ingredient. It's precious, and delicate. So I decided to go for a simple preparation and let the one ingredient be the star. the results were spectacular. This is both easy and incredibly delicious.

Expensive? You'd spend as much or more on the main course. Or perhaps two bottles of wine. So, not so bad in those terms. I got my piece of lobe from Pusateri's. I might look for some other sources next time.

Immoral? Well, if the ethics of foie gras really bother you, you can get "foie gras" made cruelty-free from Quebec. I don't know if it really tastes the same. People have been fattening fowl in this manner since at least 2500 BC. There have been studies done that have supported either side, so the jury is out about whether this really causes the animals any distress or not. Keep in mind that ducks and geese don't have a gag reflex, and often store food in their throats as part of the digestive process. So, from what I've read, I suspect that this method of producing food is no more cruel than any other meat product. Anyway, it's delicious: rich and buttery.

Foie Gras aux Pruneaux

from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
(thanks Meg and Seb)

8 Prunes
1 Cup (225 ml) port
2.5 oz. (70g) fresh foie glas - cut into 4 slices
salt and pepper

small bowl
heavy-bottom saute pan, preferably cast iron
slotted metal spatula or fish turner
wooden spatula

Serves 4 (What the hell-make it for 2 and pig out)

Place the prunes in the small bowl, cover and with the port, and soak for at least 2 hours before cooking the foie gras.

Season the foie glas with salt and pepper. heat the saute pan over high heat until very hot. Sear the foie gras in the pan (no butter or oil needed) for about 45 seconds per side. The foie glas will shrivel and shrink and kick out a lot of fat. The idea is to sear it quickly on each side until nicely caramelized and brown, without melting the whole thing away. it's almost impossible to cook this dish too rare, so concern yourself with the external color. If it's brown on both sides, lift it out of the pan with the slotted spatula and transfer to a serving platter.

Quickly discard about half the fat that issued so enticingly from the foie, then add the soaked prunes. Using the wooden spatula, stir in a little of the soaking liquid to dislodge (deglaze) any browned bits in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, reducing the sauce, then pour it all over the foie gras and serve.

This dish is very nice served with a few thin slices of brioche toast to mop up the sauce. If you want to really look like a hotshot, you can also (much earier in the day) reduce some balsamic vinegar to a thick syrup and then drizzle a tiny bit of it over the foie gras and the platter in decorative Jackson Pollock patterns as a sweet-sour garnish.

Tay's notes
Cook this seconds before you serve it--and consider inviting your guests to watch you make it. The port can make a nice flambe effect when it hits the pan.


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