Foie gras is one of the most famous delicacies of French cuisine. Foie gras is the liver of a forcibly overfed goose or duck. Like truffles and caviar, foie gras is considered one of the finest delicacies in the world, derived from French cuisine. Among those who can afford it, foie gras is also considered a traditional Christmas dish, which invariably appears on the festive table along with the roasted turkey. French law includes foie gras in the protected cultural and gastronomic heritage of France.
Not many people have yet tried this delicacy and wonder what foie gras taste and smell like. Let’s figure it out.
Foie Gras Taste and Smell
What does foie gras taste like? Foie gras has a delicate, creamy, rich, buttery taste, unlike the usual liver. Goose foie gras is bigger than duck, has a complex bouquet, a special creamy taste, and a delicate aroma. The taste of duck foie gras is brighter and has a nutty flavor. As the liver grows off of fat, it has an extremely delicate taste and texture.
It is believed that the taste differences between goose and duck liver are insignificant, but a true gourmet will definitely feel the difference. What does foie gras smell like? Foie gras has a very peculiar, delicate, and buttery smell. Duck foie gras has a richer aroma and a sharper and sharper taste than goose foie gras. Duck liver mousse is recommended to be served slightly chilled with a baguette or other fresh bread, accompanied by dry white wine or red wine from Pinot Noir grapes.
Foie gras is made only from the liver of a goose or duck that is force-fed with corn using a feeding tube, a process also known as gavage. In Spain and other countries, it is sometimes produced using natural feeding. Ducks are force-fed twice a day for 12.5 days, and geese are fed three times a day for 17 days. Ducks are usually slaughtered after 100 days and geese after 112 days.
Of course, foie gras taste will be different, depending on the bird and its routine. Foie gras can be translated from French as “fatty liver”. The delicacy is made from both duck and goose. The goose liver is large, can weigh about one kilogram, has a creamy taste, and a delicate, delicate aroma. The duck’s liver is smaller and weighs about 500 grams, the taste is bright, more intense than that of a goose. Each bird has its own gourmet fans.
Does foie gras taste good? Foie gras indeed tastes good. Foie gras taste is always described as delicious, buttery, and flavorful. Foie gras has a soft, smooth texture, unlike liver from other animals such as ordinary liver of duck, goose, chicken, or a cow. So, foie gras does not taste like chicken’s liver, even though a lot of people may think so.
Foie Gras Preparation
Foie gras is typically cooked over low heat in France, as the fat melts faster in the traditional goose version than the duck version produced in most other parts of the world. American and other New World recipes, usually using duck liver, have more options and dishes for making foie gras hot rather than cold.
In Hungary, goose foie gras is traditionally fried in goose fat, which is then poured onto foie gras and left to cool. It is also eaten warm after roasting, and some chefs smoke the liver over a cherry wood fire.
Traditional low-temperature cooking methods are used in foie gras terrines, pates, parfaits, foie gras, and mousses, often with truffles, mushrooms, or brandy such as cognac or Armagnac. These slow forms of foie gras are cooled and served at or below room temperature.
In the very traditional terrine form, au torchon (“in a towel”), a whole liver sausage is formed, wrapped in a towel, and slowly cooked in a water bath. To add extra flavor, the liver can be briefly roasted over a fire with grapevine scraps before slow cooking in a water bath; after that, the pate is served cold, in slices.
The best combination of foie gras delicate pâté is with crispy toast and something sweet or salty. In French restaurants, you can often find options when a round of foie gras is brought on fried toast, lightly sprinkled with coarse sea salt, combined with a sweet jam – from figs or lingonberries, sometimes even strawberries. This dish can be supplemented with red French wine: it will be so perfect, subtle, and complex in taste that nothing more is needed.
Another common combination is with onion jam and toast. Onions impart a characteristic sweetness and astringency, creating an excellent flavor bouquet.
Foie gras taste also depends on the way it is cooked. You should try your first foie gras in a restaurant to experience its real taste and smell. Then, you can cook foie gras at home and compare which you prefer more.
One of the largest French companies, LaBeyrie, which has specialized in the supply of foie gras for 60 years, also recommends trying the delicacy with other products. For example, fig jam, like bread, is a classic serving foie gras. Fruit and berry sauces complement the taste of the liver with a slight sourness. A baked apple gives foie gras its delicate aroma. Fried mushrooms and caramelized chestnuts are also successfully combined with a delicacy.
Types of Foie Gras
- The most expensive of all foie gras is the whole liver — Le foie gras entier. Foie gras entier consists of two lobes of the liver, or at least one lobe. Le foie gras entier has large pieces of liver from different birds pressed together (the label often says “Avec morceaux” — with pieces).
- Le bloc de foie gras consists of pieces of foie gras (at least 30% for a duck, at least 50% for a goose) of different animals and just the livers of the same animals. The least prestigious option and, as a result, inexpensive.
- Foie gras cru is a raw liver for roasting. It is practically not exported.
- Foie gras mi-cuit (half-baked foie gras) is a whole liver, which is poured with boiling bird fat right in the jars. As soon as the fat cools down, the jar is sealed. It can be stored for no longer than a few weeks and is also rarely exported.
- Foie gras cuit (baked foie gras) is a poultry liver marinated in a mixture of salt and spices, heated in a water bath to 110-120C, and packed in glass or metal jars, also with a small amount of hot fat. Such canned food is kept in the cold. They have a fairly long shelf life, and over time, baked foie gras, like a good wine, only gets better.
Foie gras must be prepared exclusively comme il faut, i.e. nothing extra. Although modern chefs make candy with almonds and licorice from foie gras, serve foie gras with pineapple marmalade or nut toasts, foie gras is traditionally served with fried chanterelles, baked apples, green salad, wild berries, wholemeal bread, chestnut puree, and caramel pears.
Foie gras requires respect and certain conventions. Foie gras is not served with a standard and boring wine, it requires a more refined, floral taste. The delicacy should be cut with a knife, dividing it into slices. But foie gras should never be spread on bread.
Foie gras is served as a snack because the receptors at the beginning of the meal are most sensitive. Foie gras is served with sauternes, dry white wine, as well as Calvados or Armagnac. However, there is also an opinion that the traditional serving with rich sauternes loses to serving light dry wines.