foie gras

Pronunciation: [FWAH GRAH]

Although the literal translation from French is "fat liver," foie gras is the term generally used for goose liver. This specialty of Alsace and Perigord, is in fact, the enlarged liver from a goose or duck that has been force-fed and fattened over a period of 4 to 5 months. These specially bred fowl are not permitted to exercise—which, combined with the overeating, creates a huge (up to 3 pounds), fatty liver. After the bird is killed, the liver is soaked overnight in milk, water or port. It's drained, then marinated in a mixture usually consisting of armagnac, port or madeira and various seasonings. The livers are then cooked, usually by baking. The preparation, of course, depends on the cook. In general goose liver is considered superior to duck liver; all foie gras is very expensive. At its best, it is a delicate rosy color with mottlings of beige. The flavor is extraordinarily rich and the texture silky smooth. Foie gras au torchon is a technique for preparing foie gras where it's wrapped in a clean cloth (torchon in French) and poached in a flavored liquid usually containing sweet white wine. Once poaching is finished the foie gras is cooled and left to steep in the liquid for several days. Pâté de foie gras is puréed goose liver (by law, 80 percent) that usually contains other foods such as pork liver, truffles and eggs. Mousse or purée de foie gras must contain at least 55 percent goose liver. Foie gras should be served chilled with thin, buttered toast slices. A sauternes is the perfect accompaniment.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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