A complex recipe that yields simply wonderful results. The combination of duck foie gras and apple with an enticing gastrique creates a superb first course worthy of princely guests.A truly regal dish.
- Confit of Foie Gras:
- 1 Grade A moulard duck foie gras; 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds
- 3/4 teaspoons pink salt; (optional) (sel rose, a preserving salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly - ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- coarse salt - to cover completely
- 1/2 gallon duck fat or canola oil
- Apple Compote:
- 1/4 Cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 Granny Smith apples
- coarse salt, to taste
- freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- Black Pepper Gastrique:
- 1 Cup Banyuls vinegar (available from gourmet food shops)
- 1 Cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Cups diced brioche bread; cut into 1/4" cubes
- 4 teaspoons melted butter or foie gras fat
- For the Confit of Foie Gras: Remove the veins from the foie gras as described in the story (comments). Season the liver generously with all of the pink salt, pepper and sugar. Place the liver in a resealable plastic bag and fill the bag with coarse salt so the liver is completely covered. Refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. Do not let the liver stand any longer or the foie gras may be excessively salty.
- Rinse off the salt under cold water and pat dry with a towel. In a large braising pan, heat the duck fat or canola oil to 160 degrees and submerge the liver in the fat for 30 minutes. Be sure to maintain an even temperature during the cooking process. Remove the liver from the fat, and roll it in plastic to form a roulade, or cylinder-like shape. Refrigerate overnight until firm.
- For the Apple Compote: Combine the honey and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reduces to a light syrup, about 8 to 10 minutes. Peel and core the apples, and cut them into an even, small dice. People may have different ideas of what makes a "small dice," but what's most important is to make sure they are even in size, or they will not cook evenly. Add the apples to the syrup, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes. The compote can be cooled and refrigerated until ready to use.
- For the Black Pepper Gastrique: Reduce the vinegar and honey over medium heat in a small saucepan, just as you did for the compote. Keep an eye on the temperature to keep the syrup from bubbling over. Halfway through the cooking process, add the pepper, and reduce to about 3/4 Cup of syrup that is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat from time to time so the bubbles subside and you can check the texture of the sauce. Skim any foam from the top.
- For Assembly: When you are ready to serve the dish, heat the broiler. Combine the brioche cubes with the melted butter or foie gras fat. Unroll the liver from the plastic wrap and slice it in 1/2-inch disks. Press the brioche mixture firmly onto the foie gras. Place the liver disks on a baking sheet. Set the sheet about 6 inches beneath the broiler element and broil until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Watch carefully as they scorch easily. Serve with the Apple Compote and Black Pepper Gastrique.
Each of 8 servings: 355 calories; 1,096 mg sodium; 297 mg cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams protein; 1.50 grams fiber.
Comments: Foie gras is a two-lobed organ with a small network of veins running through it that some people might find unpalatable when served cold. The major veins can be removed with a paring knife or needle-nosed pliers if desired. The size of foie gras varies; what's important is the proportion of liver to salt, sugar and pepper. If your foie gras is a different size than called for in this recipe, weigh it in grams. Divide its weight by 500 to get the weight of the sugar and the weight of the white pepper. Double the number for the weight of pink salt. The pink salt, or sel rose , is a preserving salt that contains nitrates to aid in the retention of color in things like dried sausages. Banyuls vinegar can be found at gourmet food shops. Thomas Keller says neither the duck fat nor the sel rose are necessary for this recipe. Use canola oil instead of the duck fat and you'll hardly notice the difference. Eliminate the sel rose altogether if you want -- since the dish will probably be consumed within a day, keeping the color rosy won't be a concern.
NOTES : Thomas Keller is the chef at the French Laundry in the Napa Valley, and with Michael Ruhlman they are co-authors of 'The French Laundry Cookbook' (Artisan, $50)