What’s the big deal about foie gras??? For epicureans or aficionados it is about that refined taste, subtle aroma and delicate flavor that melts in your mouth. So even if Sunday is sacred… I could not say NO to foie gras.
Alumna Frances Santos invited us to attend the Ernest Soulard Foie Gras familiarization cooking class hosted by the Makati Shangri-la in Manila. The demonstration was conducted by French Chef Michael Petit. He worked for Joel Robuchon and is now the chef for Ernest Soulard . The company is one of the biggest producers of foie gras in France. During the workshop we were taught the proper way to devein the liver lobes and make terrines.
Here are some interesting facts I learned about foie gras from the team of Ernest Soulard :
1. Foie gras originated some 4500 years ago from Egypt because of the migratory pattern of ducks to the Nile river. The Jewish tribes perpetuated the tradition during the Exodus by replacing goose fat for lard. It has been and until today a proud part of French culinary and cultural heritage.
3. There are three kinds of ducks used in food production: Peking, Barbarie, and the Mallard duck. Foie gras is made from the crossbreed of the Barbarie and Mallard ducks.
5. Yes the ducks are force fed but the politically correct term is “fed abundantly”. This ancient method is done to fatten up the liver but does not really hurt the animal.
6. Devein the lobes at room temperature. Deveining is done for taste and visual appeal. The blood vessels are like strings that damage the tender liver when pulled after cooking. They give off a bitter taste and the blood stains do not make them look appetizing.
7. For fresh to chilled products: eat closest from the date of slaughter. The taste does not change but after 6 days enzymatic reactions causes a rapid moisture loss of 20-25% when cooked. Chilled fresh can last 12 to 14 days.
8. Frozen foie gras is the next best thing. Frozen at the day of slaughter, the lobes are not deveined as the frost naturally disintegrates them. Frozen and pre-cut portions are conveniently available in 30, 50, 70, and 80 gram sizes.
9. To make terrine: Recommended seasoning is salt (fluer de sel) 12g and 3g pepper per kilo.
10. When layering the foie gras in a terrine mould use the smooth surface on the outer bottom layer, place all the mashed liver in the middle, then top with the nice shinny surface for cover. Use dried fruits like figs or sun-dried tomatoes in-between to add flavor. Do not cook beyond 69 degrees C.
11. Season foie gras then cook right away. Rest before serving. It is wrong to let sit in marinade for a long period of time and then cook. This will destroy the delicate flavor.
13. Three ways to prevent oxidation: cover with duck fat (traditional way), vacuum pack, use nitrate salt (pink salt) or .05g of ascorbic acid per kilo.
14. To cook sear 50 gram slices in a very hot non-stick pan for 2 minutes on each side. Serve with reduced balsamic vinegar. For Asian flavor use a soy sauce glaze. Great to pair with our Manila mangoes!
15. To poach in cloth: wrap foie gras in parchment paper then roll in a cheese cloth to form a log. Poach in stock but not more than 69 degrees C. After cooking cool down in stock to absorb the liquid’s flavor.
17. The French claim that foie gras has unsaturated fatty acids that help lower “bad” cholesterol that help them live longer.