A Brief Introduction to Foie Gras
Highly coveted and supremely decadent, foie gras is one of those dishes that can seem rather intimidating at first. It sounds utterly fancy, so what is foie gras and why is it so exclusive?
What is Foie Gras?
Foie gras (translating to "fatty liver") is duck or goose liver which is enlarged and fattier in nature due to the fattening of the animal. The increased fat content in the liver results in the rich, velvety taste and texture that makes foie gras so distinct.
The exclusivity of foie gras is related to the amount of time and effort involved in feeding and fattening the liver to optimal conditions. Duck foie gras tends to have a more pronounced texture and an earthier taste, while goose foie gras can be subtler in taste.
Types of Foie Gras
There are several different ways to enjoy foie gras including:
- Pate: Often incorrectly used interchangeably with foie gras, pate is the slow cooking of meat (not necessarily foie gras) in a mold. Foie gras pate is often combined with additional ingredients that range from pheasant to black pepper to brandy.
- Entier: The entire lobe of the liver, prepared as terrine or torchon (which is wrapped in muslin, poached and cooled).
- Loaf: Whipped or condensed pieces of foie gras.
- Mousse: A creamy, buttery spread often complemented with flavors such as truffle.
The liver is graded for quality with Grade A generally being the largest, firmest, and smoothest with fewest imperfections. Grade A foie gras is often used for terrine, searing, or sautéing. Grade B foie gras tends to be smaller in size with more visible imperfections and typically is used for terrine or mousses. Grade C foie gras is less prevalent and is typically used for flavor enhancement.
Enjoying Foie Gras
Whether you choose to try foie gras at home or at a restaurant, it is a delicacy that can be enjoyed in countless ways. Atop classic toast points or crackers, the delicate taste and texture of foie gras truly shines.