My boyfriend and I are currently spending our second Christmas together at his family’s seaside home on the western coast of France. (I know, I have a really terrible life). We have only been here one day, but already I find myself one luscious recipe richer. While it is perhaps shameful to admit, before last night, I never considered that one could make foie gras at home. But you can! My boyfriend’s mother Isabelle, a veritable treasure trove of all things lovely and French, has generously shared her recipe for the smoothest, most buttery foie gras I have ever tasted. Her advice is to use the very best-quality liver you can get your hands on. —Cristina Sciarra
- Makes 1 log of foie gras
raw “fat” duck or goose liver
freshly grated black pepper
Cognac or Armagnac
large-grain sea salt
- Place the duck or goose liver on a large plate or cutting board. “Unfold” both parts of the liver. With your fingers and with a knife, carefully remove any white veins or connective tissue, without making too many holes liver. Sprinkle the inside of both parts with freshly ground black pepper before folding the to two halves back on top of each other.
- Pour the Cognac or Armagnac into a shallow bowl. Wet a large piece of cheesecloth completely, then wring it out and lay it on a flat surface. Place the liver on top of the cheesecloth, and then roll the cheesecloth tightly around the liver. You want it to resemble a log, so shape it with your hands as you roll. When you are happy with the shape, tuck the ends of the cheesecloth under.
- Inside the terrine, layer about 1 inch of sea salt. Place the cheesecloth package on top of the salt, and then cover it completely with the rest of the salt. (The cheesecloth should be completely covered on all sides, so make sure the terrine is big enough that there is space to encase the liver completely).
- Wrap the top of the terrine in plastic, and place it in the refrigerator for 48 hours. (This is important—less than 48 hours and the foie gras won’t be “cooked,” longer than 48 hours and you risk over salting it).
- After 48 hours, remove the plastic wrap, and take out the cheesecloth. (The salt can be reserved for another use.) Dust any excess salt from the cheesecloth, and then unwrap. Serve the foie gras with pain de mie. (Or any buttery bread.)