Oui Oui. Oui are still in the lovely city of Paris and today Mr. B. attended the Foie Gras Preparation class while I keep myself warm and cozy in the hotel room. I'll let him tell you the whole story. Here goes.
The much debated foie gras. What can one say? Since ancient Egypt, fattening of birds by forced overfeeding has been practiced. This gavage method of fattening the liver of goose or duck has been a subject of international controversy. So controversial in fact that a number of nations completely banned the production of foie gras. The French, which produces and consumes almost 80% of the world's foie gras, has a law that states "Foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France". I guess it means they don't care what you say. Anyhow, this is not the point of this post. This is about discovering this much talked-about French culinary delight.
Chef Patrick Caals led the full day demonstration and degustation (tasting) of the various foie gras preparations with the help of Chef Jean-Michel Chevreuil during the actual cooking. The first part of the class involves identifying a good foie gras, deveining and cleaning (which is a tedious task, unless a high quality "deveined" variation is purchased). As with the preparation of other dishes, the French are very, very particular in the temperature. When they say 56 degrees, you don't ask them what if the oven temperature goes up to 58 degrees. They might tell you to throw away what you have done so far and start again.
After an entire morning of lecture and demo, each student was given a foie gras entier (a whole foie gras, weighing about 600gm). This is the scary part as one understood one id working with a very delicate ingredient and the foie gras actually melts on the hand if handled for too long. Several courses were made including the following:
Foie Gras En Terrine - This is where the whole foie gras went. Deveined and cleaned. Seasoned with salt, sugar and pepper. Optional liquor added (I added armagnac in mine And drank the sweet port wine provided), The carefully lining in the terrine container for steaming until the center reaches 56 degrees then plunging into ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Another 48 hours of wait is required for the taste of the terrine to settle and reach maximum peak.
Foie Gras and Truffles with Seasonal Mushroom Cream - Made with foie gras trimmings mixed with eggs, milk, cream and seasoning and layered at the bottom of a small container, them topped with cream of mushroom (another tedious preparation), and finally topped with sliced black truffles (Don't ask the chef if white truffles can be used. He already said black.) And drizzled with truffle oil. This one tastes really smooth, velvety with the mushroom and foie gras blending beautifully.
Warm Foie Gras Steamed with Cabbage and Chestnuts with Rich Fresh Herb Bouillon - Basically a small piece of foie gras wrapped in steamed cabbage placed on top of a complicated but delectable broth of chestnuts stock, chives, sprigs, parsnip, cilantro and seasoning.
Foie Gras Roasted with Confit Quinces and Shallots with Reduced Bitter-Sweet Orange Jus - Very few people knew what quince was. Even fewer students dared raise their hands and asked the Chef what quince is? No one saw the entire supposed-to-be-like pear fruit because it arrived the kitchen peeled and sliced. Anyhow, the preparation is putting pan-fried foie gras and caramelized quinces alternately one on top of the other in a terrine container them further steamed to perfection.
After an entire day of degustating different foie gras dishes, I am all foie gras out. I still have an entire terrine I made myself that I don't know what to do with.