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Foie Gras

Foie Gras: A Passion 
by Michael A. Ginor 
338 pp. John Wiley & Sons, 1999 

"At the end of the twentieth century, chefs in American restaurants have carved out a permanent place for foie gras on their menus. After three decades of experimentation, they have acquired the facility needed to use foie gras creatively in the culinary styles that now define American cooking," writes Michael Ginor, co-founder of Hudson Valley Fois Gras and author of "Foie Gras: A Passion." 

Fois gras originated in Egypt, according to Ginor, with the first domestication of geese. The practice of fattening geese for slaughter was first mentioned among the ancient Greeks, but it was the Romans who recognized foie gras for the delicacy that it is and it was Pliny, author of the encyclopedic "Natural History," who made the initial explicit mention of goose liver: 

"Our countrymen are wiser, who know the goose by the excellence of its liver. Stuffing the bird with food makes the liver grow to a great size, and also when it has been removed it is made larger by being soaked in milk sweetened with honey." 

Foie gras was a little-known and rarely offered delicacy in the U.S. until Ginor and his partner, Izzy Yanay, startled peddling it to trendy Manhattan restaurants in the early 1990s. Today, an estimated 50,000 fattened goose livers are served in U.S. restaurants each week and Ginor and Yanay's Hudson Valley Foie Gras is the nation's dominant supplier.

In addition to providing an in-depth history of his favorite food, Ginor responds to criticisms of the practice of force-feeding fowl to fatten their livers and defends the high fat content of foie gras with statistics showing low rates of heart disease in regions where it is consumed the most.

Most of the book, however, is devoted to 80 foie gras recipes of many of the nation's leading chefs, including: 

  • Jacques Pepin's classic Terrine of Foie Gras with Cognac Aspic
  • Pierre Gagnaire's Foie Gras Poached in Russian Tea with Fava Beans, Watermelon, Papaya, Pine Nuts, and Beaufort Cheese.
  • David Burke's signature Caraway-infused Corn Custard with Honey-Glazed Foie Gras
  • Daniel Boulud's Pot-au-Feu Royale
  • Susana Foo's Oriental Foie Gras and Shiitake Pot-Stickers with Steamed Asian Pear and Port Sauce
  • Vincent Guérithault's southwestern Roasted Poblano Chilies Stuffed with Black Bean Pureé and Seared Foie Gras
Gideon Lewin's enticing color photos are the perfect complement to a complete and satisfying presentation.

Foie Gras

Apple Terrine of Foie Gras with Apple Brioche Charlotte, Fresh Blackberry Sauce, and Upland Cress 


Foie Gras

Recipe: Apple Terrine of Foie Gras with Apple Brioche Charlotte, Fresh Blackberry Sauce, and Upland Cress

Although Michael Mina is known for his inventive fish and seafood preparations, his San Francisco restaurant actually serves more foie gras than almost any other establishment in the country. Michael's background as a pastry chef influenced the creation of this particular dish, a play on a traditional apple charlotte. The foie gras is served chilled alongside a charlotte of warm apples, creating an interesting composition of contrasting temperatures.

Apple Terrine
4 ounces foie gras (in one piece),
   cleaned for low-heat cooking
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saltpeter
Pinch white pepper
Pinch sugar
Pinch nutmeg
1 large apple 

Blackberry Sauce
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup rendered foie gras fat, melted and strained
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 pint blackberries

Apple Charlotte
6 slices brioche, crusts removed and cut
   into 1/2 inch strips of equal length,
   plus four 1-3/4 inch rounds
5 Granny Smith apples,
   peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 pound butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon clove
Rendered foie gras fat to taste

1 Granny Smith apple, cut into fine julienne
1/2 pint fresh blackberries
1 bunch upland cress 

Special Equipment
Melon baller
4 ring molds, 2-1/2 inches in diameter

Wine Recommendation
Kent Rassmussen Late-Harvest
Sauvignon Blanc 1993 (Napa), or another late-harvest wine from California.

Apple Terrine
To increase the surface area of the foie gras, gently flatten it by applying pressure with your hand. Combine the salt, saltpeter, pepper, sugar, and nutmeg, and coat the foie gras with this mixture to cure. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. With an even slice, cut off the top of the apple, about 1/4 inch from the crown, and carefully remove the core without breaking through the bottom. Using a melon baller, hollow out a deep, wide cavity inside the apple. Fill the apple with the cured foie gras, packing firmly, and replace the apple top. Place the apple in a baking pan filled with 1/4 inch of water, cover with foil, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until a knife pierced into the center comes out warm. Carefully remove the apple from the water, wrap in plastic, and chill for several hours.

Blackberry Sauce
In a saucepan set over a low flame, combine the sugar and foie gras fat, stirring to form a thick mixture. Continue heating and stirring until most of the sugar is absorbed. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil, watching closely because this mixture has a tendency to boil over. Remove from the heat. Mash the blackberries into the sauce by pressing them with the back of a spoon against the side of the pot. Strain and set aside.

Apple Charlotte
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lay the strips and rounds of brioche on a sheet pan and toast until lightly colored. In a baking dish, combine the apples, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and clove, and cook until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Puree the apple mixture in a food processor, adding foie gras fat to taste.

Service and Garnish
Line the insides of the ring molds with the strips of toasted brioche arranged vertically as shown in the photograph. Place a disk of brioche on the bottom of each. Spoon the apple purée into the charlotte molds, using the puree to hold the strips of brioche together, and gently warm in the oven. Unmold the charlottes on each of four plates. Top with some julienned apple. Gently heat the blackberry sauce and add the fresh blackberries. Spoon the sauce around the charlotte. Slice the apple terrine into quarters and place one slice on each plate. Garnish with upland cress or other baby greens.

Chef Notes

Use a tart, firm apple such as Golden Delicious, Gala, Braeburn, or similar variety. Upland cress is a wild, peppery relative of watercress that grows in California. If unavailable, substitute any similar cress.

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