This Christmas, I decided to buy whole, raw foie gras and prepare it at home.
I’m going to skip the foie gras ethical debate because anyone who wants to has already informed themselves about the issue and because there are already plenty of resources on the web.
So, on to the foie gras!
Given that this is an English-language blog, I figured it might be handy to explain the various French terms commonly used to describe foie gras.
- foie gras – literally translates as fat or fatty liver; poultry liver that has been fattened up especially, usually by extra feeding; the flavour and texture is richer and more buttery than unfattened poultry liver
- de canard – from a duck; a rich and intense flavour; handles heat better than goose foie gras
- d’oie – from a goose; compared to duck foie gras it has a more delicate flavour; loses more fat when subjected to heat, is produced in smaller quantities and is more expensive
- foie gras entier cru – entier means whole, cru means raw; most commonly both lobes or a single lobe but can also refer to a piece cut from the whole, provided it hasn’t been chopped or mixed with anything else; buying raw usually means the liver is unprepared so will need deveining before being cooked or cured
- foie gras entier frais – fresh whole liver
- foie gras mi-cuit – literally translates as half cooked; on a menu, this most commonly refers to fresh liver, lightly cooked (as opposed to being boiled for a couple of hours in its container as with preserved versions) and usually pressed and chilled before serving
- foie gras entier – (in jars/ tins); whole liver (or parts of it), seasoned with salt, pepper and Cognac and then cooked in a jar or tin to preserve; usually cooked for about 2 hours but you do find mi-cuit versions where the liver has been poached in its container for a shorter 30-40 minutes
- bloc de foie gras avec morceaux – morceaux means bits; this is a pâté made from minced foie gras, with small bits of intact liver within; it is cooked in its container; the percentage of morceaux is usually specified
- bloc de foie gras – a pâté made from minced and seasoned foie gras cooked in its container; this can vary greatly in texture, taste and quality between industrially produced versions and home-made or fermier (farm) ones
- pâté de foie gras – ground, minced or pureed foie gras in a spreadable form; must contain 50% or more foie gras
- mousse de foie gras – a mousse is usually finer and lighter than pâté, as the preparation has been whipped to incorporate air; must contain 50% or more foie gras
- parfait de foie gras – very similar to mousse de foie gras but must contain at least 75% foie gras
- foie gras au torchon – au torchon means in a towel; a whole lobe of liver is gently rolled into shape, wrapped in cloth and slow-cooked in a bain-marie; these days the liver is most commonly shaped and wrapped in cling film and cooked in a temperature-controlled water bath; it is served cold, in slices
- foie gras cru au sel – liver, usually whole, cured in salt and served chilled
- foie gras poêlé – poêléis usually translated as pan-fried or seared; slices of whole foie gras are fried briefly in a hot pan and served immediately
Buying Foie Gras
I bought our whole foie gras de canard from a stall at Borough Market several weeks before Christmas. Because it was best before dated for the 12th December, I popped it into the freezer until Christmas. The brand is Profuma, produced in Belgium and I paid £20 for 0.6 kilograms which is a very good price for extra (highest) quality, I believe.
Terrine de Foie Gras Mi-Cuit
- Separate the two lobes and remove all the veins. Ideally, you want to keep the lobes intact as much as possible, but I ended up breaking mine into large pieces to reach the veins. I allowed the liver to reach room temperature first, as I’d read that this makes the veins come out more easily.
- As you’re deveining, drop each clean piece of liver into a bowl of salted ice-cold water.
- Leave the deveined liver in the cold water for 30-60 minutes.
- Drain the liver well and then marinate for several hours (see below for marinade recipe). I popped mine into the fridge for this.
- Preheat the oven to 90 °C.
- Drain the liver (though there’s no need to wipe off any remaining marinade) and place into a non-stick baking pan.
- Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Pick out the cooked pieces of liver, allowing as much of the melted fat to drip off as possible, and transfer them into your terrine dish, packing them down firmly.As far more of the liver melted away into fat than I’d anticipated we switched to a much smaller dish. Ideally we needed one a touch smaller still, as there wasn’t quite enough liver to reach to the rim and allow for the weight on top to properly press down.
- Once the terrine is filled, cover and place in the fridge with a heavy object on top to pack the liver more tightly into the container. Place a plate beneath the container to catch any additional fat that is pressed out.
- Leave the terrine in the fridge for 4 days before turning out and enjoying.
I based my cooking method very much on the steps and advice provided by CulinoTests here (in French), which take you through a recipe from Eric Léautey.
I was hugely nervous about deveining foie gras as I’d heard a fair few anecdotes about how difficult this is and how it’s very easy to leave lots of veins behind in the liver.
I was directed by a friend to this instructions video (in French) which helped me devein successfully, though my liver was broken into more pieces than the instructor’s when I’d finished! I’ve since found these helpful video instructions (also in French). The second video also goes on to cover how to make foie gras au torchon.
To my delight, I seem to have been successful in removing the vast majority of the veins; both Pete and I found just a single very tiny thread each in what we ate.
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (I used cider wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- a generous pinch of all spice
The end result was fantastic! That familiar, fantastically rich flavour, the rich and silky mouthfeel…
I’d already been advised that freezing shouldn’t affect foie gras. Although I’ve never cooked it before, I’ve eaten a lot of it and the taste and texture seemed absolutely spot on to me. I’d freeze again in the future, though I’d probably devein first so I could divide and freeze in two or three portions.
I was disappointed with how very much of the initial liver weight and volume melted away into fat during the brief cooking. Apparently this isn’t down to the quality of the foie gras and can’t easily be predicted. I don’t think I overcooked it since the pieces of liver still retained a pink colour inside.
The loss to fat means it’s difficult to predict the volume of solid liver you’ll end up with and therefore hard to pick the right terrine dish. I’m not sure how best to resolve that.
The silver lining is that I had a huge amount of foie gras fat left over, half of which has already been used for the most delicious roast potatoes we’ve enjoyed in a long while!
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!22 Comments to "Homemade Terrine de Foie Gras Mi-Cuit"
Oh yummy. I am on the fence about the ethical issues, but I do like Foie gras so much that I toss my ethics aside and refuse to feel guily about it.
Well done on making it!
I'm impressed! It makes you realise why foie gras entier cuit is so expensive!
Wow! Mega. That looks so complicated. But worth it! Congratulations.
What an impressive post Kavey, so much information. Love foie gras (duck or goose), and wish it was more readily available in the UK as it is in France. Wish I were there to taste it…. the roast potatoes basted in foie gras fat must have been out of this world.
Luiz @ The London Foodie
Highly informative… and foodies who don't read French will find this invaluable.
I enjoyed that foie gras at Village East… the reason for choosing that burger!
Helen, thanks, it was one of those things I'd always assumed I couldn't do but, although I lose a lot of weight into fat, it was fantastically delicious!
Foodycat, thank you and YES I do indeed!!!
Jude, not too complicated! Have had some other recipes suggested and will blog those, if I do them and they are easier.
Luiz, thanks, I hope people will find it useful, with the translations too. The roasties were gorgeous!
Sarah, thank you, I hope so! Yes I couldn't resist that burger once I saw the foie gras. Wish there had been more of it in there!!!
Like you Kavey I consider myself a well-rounded foodie… but this doesn't mean i've taken leave of my senses or humanity… and just because they make it in France doesn't mean it's a good thing… sometimes us foodies can go one step too far with what's perceived as 'good food'…so sorry, this one's not for me! x
I enjoyed reading this even if I don't actually make it. Good info!
Gardenridge, glad the information is useful.
I have a very romantic memory of my introduction to foie gras. I must have been about 14 when spending the summer with my aunt in Arcachon near Bordeaux. I think the first time I had it was in paté de foie gras so the flavour and
texture was somewhat familiar but I recognised there was something a little
more special about it. I found us having it pretty regularly and heard these
terms “torchon”, “d’oie”, “entier” being used and although I picked up on their meaning, this is actually the first time I’ve seen them all listed here together so that gave me big smiles. Despite all of this though, I never bought it to use at home myself so this post has given me a little poke to go out there and get some and work with it. Might wait until next month at least though as Lolli might tell me off for trying to sway her off the January detox/health kick!
I love foie gras!! Love your intro too, I'm not always rational or consistent either 😉 Great info you have provided. I've made foie gras terrine a few times now and I like to serve it with some pomegranate molasses and pom seeds. This looks super scrummy!
I have to admit I only recently tried foie gras for the first time. I thought I'd really hate it because I really dislike the taste of liver, but it was much milder than what I was expecting.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Keith, lovely to read about your memory and glad the terminology list is useful!
Let me know if you try it yourself!
Bethany, love the sound of serving with pomegranate molasses and seeds! Colourful and delicious, both!
HH, it's so fat-rich that the texture is much more buttery than any other liver and I think the taste is divine!
I hate liver too; foie gras is so yummy it's clearly some other part of an animal 🙂
What I've started doing is to try to reproduce the cooking method (sous vide) first devised in starred Michelin restaurants preicesly to prevent the fat loss.
After deveining, macerating and forming into rolls, in cling film, I packed into vacuum bags and cooked in a water bath at 66ºC for about 2 hours (the time depends upon the maximum diameter as I showed in my post in Wildfoods). I had a fat loss of slightly under 10%.
I bought another foie gras today from the same small producer as last time. (Whose ducks express their opinion of gavage by rushing round to join the queue again after being fed). This time, I'll pasteurise again by cooking cooler for longer and see. I'll report back at http://www.wildfood.info
I have been toying with the idea of making my own foie gras, although there is a place in Lebanon that makes an amazing one to purchase. Your instructions are where I will start when I feel ready with this undertaking.
Really interesting read, thanks Kavey! I've tasted, but never attempted to cook my own foie gras – it's great to see photos of the process, thank you! Can just imagine how much fun you're going to have with all that goose fat! 🙂
Pete, ha! You like my chicken liver pate too… slowly but surely!
Ian, it's been such a help talking to you and others about how to do this, and your help pointing me at the deveining link too. Hope more readers find their way to wildfood.info
ToB, I wish you luck, best thing is just to try!
Celia, thanks, I should have posted a photo of those roasties we made, shouldn't i?
I found this entry while looking for “foie gras terminology” for a translation I'm doing…and it was most helpful! Thank you!
Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth was a leisure account it.
Look advanced to more introduced agreeable from you!
However, how could we be in contact?
I have made it in Sous-Vide version and the loss of fat is considerably less than in a conventional oven.
I have made it both way and prefer the Sous-Vide one
Thanks, we need to retry now we have sous vide!