The Art of Foie Gras
My husband is one of the most talented chefs I know of and his chef, Patrick Tafoya is a great partner to have with him in the kitchen. Watching them menu plan is like watching a really entertaining movie. Seeing how events unfold, it’s like magic. Catering is not an easy job. Creating a kitchen in random places, out in the field, in a winery cave, or with minimal electricity… it’s not easy-peasy. But these guys make it look that way. They’re true talent. Chefs who I want to cook and prepare every event that I am responsible for.
One of the coolest things they do is create unique dishes much like what you’d be served at a five star, farm-to-table restaurant in an urban city. This foie gras “candy” they designed to look like a piece of candy (forming it in a traditional candy mold) and finishing it with garnish and a sauce that looks like caramel. I asked Chef Patrick to explain how he made this. It was not a simple task, in-fact, it took several days of attention to detail and patience to create this small, amazing addition to an already complicated menu.
Chef Patrick was glowing with excitement when describing this process to me. He explained that it’s “the little things” that makes his job so fun. He gets to do more than just put a piece of salmon on a plate, he get’s to be creative and focus on the little things: the processes and make the dishes perfect right down to the hand picked mustard flower garnish.
Here is the process in chef Patrick’s words:
“Foie Gras au Torchon translates to Foie Gras in a towel. It refers to the process of wrapping the foie in cheese cloth as a means of poaching and/or curing.
It was developed as a preservation technique as many classic French preparations have.
Whole lobe GRADE A liver is softened to room temperature. We then remove every vein and imperfection we can find maintaining as much of the original shape as possible . After reforming the lobes we soak them in milk for 24 hours. This further extracts any impurity that I may have missed.
After the milk soak, I pat the lobes dry and re-open the cleaned interior. I splash a bit of brandy and sprinkle a tiny amount (4 grams for 7 kilo of foie) of curing salt inside and on the surface of the foie.
At this point I roughly shape a cylinder with the liver. I wrap it as tightly as possible in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie the ends with butchers twine. (The photo you took of me was at this point)
The torchon is hung in the walk in for another 24 hours to cure.
The torchon is poached for 45 seconds to 1 minute in an aromatic beef stock. Shocked in an ice bath and hung again. This time for 7 days.
After 7 days the cheesecloth is removed. A thin layer of oxidation is removed from the cured foie. This portion is slowly rendered, strained and the fat reserved. We call this “foie gold”.
The remaining bright pink foie is pressed by hand through a fine sieve into a metal bowl.
This purée is then whipped with a wooden spoon over indirect heat until it is smooth and silky before being transferred to a piping bag.
The foie mousse is piped into candy molds/or any vessel for that matter. The top is smoothed and capped with the reserved foie gold and chilled.
Once completely chilled the candy can be unmolded and served.
MY TWO CENTS:
This is the most intense foie flavor achievable. It is completely unadulterated by any other flavors or textures. And in my opinion is the truest representation of what foie is. Fatty, silky, smooth.”