Luxurious terrine de foie gras

Foie GrasFew foods are as sensual and decadent as terrine de foie gras. Despite the controversy that surrounds foie gras production, this delicacy — like creamy chocolate desserts -– is often a Valentine’s Day best seller at many upscale restaurants.

In fact, at NYC’s Astor Center Restaurant for $1,295 per person you can be served an entire Valentine’s foie gras menu. Yes, that’s five duck-liver based courses. Too much for me. But, should my lover (hint, hint) want to woo me this Valentine’s Day, he could turn me into putty by offering me a sliver of Foie Gras terrine and a glass of Lanson champagne.

What makes this wonderful concoction so special? I spoke with Derek Bendig, Chef de Cuisine at Pangaea Restaurant and terrine maker extraordinaire to get the 411 on what separates this gourmet French spread from the ho-hum liverwurst sold at the grocery store.

Dana McCauley: Without giving away your signature recipe, what are the ingredients that go into a foie gras terrine?

Derek Bendig: foie gras, cognac, sweet white wine (this could be Sauternes, Ice wine, or another fine dessert wine), fine sea salt, white pepper and lots of thinly sliced Perigord black truffles.

DM: Wow! That sounds like an expensive list of ingredients!

DB: It is. To make one terrine that will produce 15 portions the ingredients cost $230. Then, of course, there’s also the time it takes to make one.

DM: What liver scented words of wisdom can you share with readers who want to tackle this delicacy in their own kitchens?

DB:• Spend some time learning how properly to prepare the liver. It needs to be deveined and properly cleaned before using. Some specialty butchers might do this for you.

• Use only the highest quality ingredients possible, from the liver itself to the alcohol the taste will be affected if everything isn’t top notch.

• Keep the ingredients cold at all times during prep to ensure a silky smooth final texture

DM: This all sounds like a lot of bother. Aren’t you just tempted to buy it ready made?

DB: Unless you buy it from a place like Pangaea, you can’t get good foie gras terrine. The canned stuff is such a pale substitute. Besides, I love to make terrines of all kinds: duck, rabbit, game, pork, and seafood as well.I enjoy the challenge and technique that goes into making terrines well. I think they’re a food that allows you to see the passion and skill of a chef in the final product. For instance, I’m making small changes in proportions, cooking method and seasonings all the time to try and make each terrine a little better than the last.

5 Responses to Luxurious terrine de foie gras

  1. danamccauley says:

    Hello everyone,

    The same day that this post appeared, I received an email from a reader about foie gras (If you look up in the top right corner of you’ll screen you’ll see a box where you can email me your questions and thoughts).

    Although this letter was about an archived recipe from several years ago, it is related to this post so I thought I’d excerpt the letter and my response here for your information and to encourage more dialogue on this subject:

    A Message for Dana McCauley:

    Dear Ms. McCauley:

    I was just cruising the recipes and found one for Seared Strip Loin with Foie Gras Sauce at p://www.homemakers.com/Food/ourrecipes/seared-strip-loin-with-foie-gras-sauce-r3814.html While it sounds delicious I would like to ask if you would consider substituting something else for the foie gras. The reason I ask is that I’ve read articles in which they describe how foie gras is produced. The birds are kept in tiny wire cages that almost completely restrict their movement. The goose is then force feed corn meal by repeatedly shoving a metal pipe down its throat. Many of the geese die and if they do survive, the practice of shoving these metal pipes down their throats punctures them and they sometimes bleed to death. When humans enter the facility, the geese go into “panic mode” trying to hide their heads, and more heartbreakingly, they attempt to comfort one another by tucking their heads under one another’s neck. I know foie gras is enjoyed by many as a delicacy, bu t there are so many other wonderful tasting foods that are just as satisfying without inflicting such inherent cruelty on an animal. I do hope you will consider this and amend your recipe(s) to not include fois gras. Thank you for your time. ~ EP, Manitoba

    My response:

    Hello E-,

    I’ve just returned from holiday and got your note about foie gras. You’re correct; foie gras production is controversial. In fact, some cites have banned foie gras from restaurant menus.

    While I appreciate your opinion very much and the time it took for you to send me your note, at this particular point in time I will not be going back and editing this ingredient out of already written recipes. That said, I do track reader feedback and take opinions like yours into consideration when developing new story ideas and your letter has been noted and will be kept on file.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write. I do hope that you’ll try other recipes I’ve developed that don’t contain foie gras. I also hope that you’ll continue to write letters to me in the future so that I can continue to learn more about what readers find important.

    Sincerely,

    Dana

  2. Jonathan says:

    I have much sympathy with the reader who found the description of foie gras production so disturbing. We must certainly do something to limit the cheaper and more cruel methods. In my experience however many producers look after their birds extremely well and would share your reader’s horror.

    Thanks Dana for publishing both the letter and your considered comments.

  3. Dana says:

    Thanks also for assuring us all that there are responsible producers. Can you tell us the names of some of them so that my readers and I can support their good efforts? Or, like the Endangered Fish Aliiance that helps people to make responsible fish choices, do you Jonathon (or anyone else reading) know about a similar organization that steers consumers in the right direction when it comes to foie gras?

  4. […] Five snacks I enjoy: Just 5? 1. Cheese – especially stinky stuff such as Stilton and epoisse. 2. Homemade Caramel Corn 3. Tangy flavoured potato chips such as salt and vinegar and that new Pringles extreme dill flavour. Yum! 4. Dry roasted peanuts 5. Derek’s Foie gras pâté […]

  5. liberationbc says:

    I find it telling that no one was able to provide an answer to Dana’s question about “responsible producers.” This is because there are none. There is one farmer in Spain who is able occasionally to get foie-gras caliber livers from geese, but he can only do it on a very small scale and when the weather is too warm the geese don’t gorge. He didn’t produce any this past year. This is the famous “Pateria de Souza” farm that so many people have written about. According to French law, his livers cannot be called “foie gras” because they are not force-fed.

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