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Recipe Fri Dec 31 2010
Let me preface what follows by saying, it's not too late -- the diets don't have to start until tomorrow! You still have time to binge before 2010 packs it in once and for all and the frugality and self-control of 2011 descend upon us! And if that proclamation has lodged comfortably in the justification portion of your brain, as it has in mine (right next to "I'm on vacation!"), why not top off that sentiment with a little bite of foie gras? The easiest way to do this, to be sure, would be to visit one of our very fine Chicago establishments and let an expert make you something delicious. Longman and Eagle was just featuring a duo before the holidays -- seared bit of lobe with a tiny green salad and some delicious crispy french-fried onions, with a foie-infused hot chocolate and just tasted like drinking pearls and velvet. And that's just the tip of the iceberg -- do a search on "foie gras" under the Find-A-Food option on Menupages if you need some help narrowing down the options.
Or if, like me, you ordered some Hudson Valley fresh foie earlier this, brought it to Wisconsin let your chef brother have his way with it for Christmas, and came back to Chicago with two tiny remaining pieces and a new food processor, you could make your own end of year treat.
With so little foie on hand and even less time before the company I'm hoping to impress shows up, the pressing, poaching and refrigerated suspension involved in making a torchon seemed impractical. A smooth, simple little pate or mousse would most likely do the trick -- though finding a recipe that didn't include "foie gras pate" as part of it's pre-made ingredient list was a bit challenging. In the end, I improvised. The results were still pretty tasty.
About 6 oz. foie gras, cleaned and de-veined
5 baby bella mushrooms
2 Tbsp dry sherry
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 dash of cloves
Now if I did this again, I think I would leave the foie raw and just throw it directly into the food processor, but since it had been sitting in my fridge already for about a week, I wasn't sure if I wanted to chance it (food safety protocol advises cooking it to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F -- phhhhbt). So I salted and peppered the foie, chopped it into 1-inch chunks and quickly seared it in a pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds, then dumped it into the food processor to cool a bit. I sliced the mushrooms, threw them into the pan with the remaining duck fat and a bit more salt and pepper, and deglazed the pan with the sherry once the mushrooms were steaming a bit. Once they'd browned and released some of their liquid, it was into the food processor with them too. Those two components got blended until smooth and pretty well liquefied, and a splash of cream, dash of cloves and salt and pepper went in as well. The final product was a bit runny, but after scraping it into a Tupperware and leaving it in the fridge overnight, it was a perfect, rich and buttery-crumbly consistency, ready for a few grains of sea salt as garnish, and a big crispy cracker (or toasted bit of brioche). I'm going to serve it as part of a cheese plate, with some clementine oranges and maybe some little sweet pickles on the side.
Happy New Year, and to all a good night of eating, drinking, and ignoring those dietary resolutions until the hangovers have cleared tomorrow.