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Mini Chicken Wellington


(serves 4)
This is the chicken version of Beef Wellington. Chicken needs to be fully cooked, so chicken wellington is flat and not cylindrical, and since fully cooked chicken will tend to be drier than medium rare beef, some chopped spinach is used instead of onion to boost moistness. Besides those 2 changes, this Chicken Wellington is pretty much the same as its beef cousin - meat covered with a generous amount of foie gras and mushrooms, baked inside a pastry shell.

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Fillet (500g)
  2. Mushrooms (150g)
  3. Spinach Leaves (100g = 1 box)
  4. Foie Gras Mousse (125g = 3/4 inch slab)
  5. Puff Pastry Sheets (2)
  6. Mascarpone (60g)
  7. Butter
  8. Basil
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Sherry

Preparation 

  1. Your chicken breast meat should preferably be of good quality(read as tender) and fresh. If not, and especially if you are using frozen chicken, you will need to brine the chicken first.
  2. In a bowl mix with 3T of olive oil, mix 1T sherry, 1t finely chopped basil, 1/2t coriander seed powder, 1/2t salt and 1/2t black pepper. If you brined your chicken, skip the salt. Cut the chicken breast into pieces that will fit the pastry shape of your choice and then marinate them in the oil.
  3. Stack the spinach and julienne the into short slices. Cut the mushrooms into small bits. With a knob of butter, fry the spinach and mushroom in a pan till the mushrooms have shrunk. Add the foie gras mousse, including the layer of fat that comes with it. Stir fry until the mousse melts.
  4. Pour the contents of the pan into a bowl and mix in 60g of mascarpone while it is still piping hot. Put the bowl in the fridge to cool. I will refer to this as the foie gras duxelles (althought this term is not 100% correct). 
  5. When the foie gras duxelles has cooled enough to solidify, take 2 frozen puff pastry sheets out of the freezer. Grease your baking tray with butter and preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).
  6. When the puff pastry begins to soften, it is time to build your mini chicken wellingtons. If you know your way around puff pastry the triagular parcel method is preferred, you can make 4 individual parcels this way - one for each person. If not, the rectangular strudel style method is easier for beginners.
  7. Spoon a bed of foie gras duxelles onto the centre of the pastry, arrange the chicken pieces over this, and then cover the chicken with a second layer of the foie gras duxelles. Seal up the pastries and place them on the baking tray.
  8. For details and tips on using, folding and cooking puff pastry, refer to my savoury pies page
  9. Bake for about half an hour or until the pastry has puffed up nicely and is golden brown. After turning off the oven, allow your mini chicken wellingtons to cool for a bit in the oven with the oven door left open.

Notes

  • Because of the high temperatures used in this recipe, there is no point in using the more expensive types of foie gras, foie gras (50%) mousse is good enough. In fact, if you are feeling frugal, you can even use the canned pork liver pate from plumrose instead.
  • Using marscapone instead of cream helps makes your filling stiffer at room temperature, a very useful feature when working with pastry without a pie tray.
  • If you like this, you’ll probably appreciate my chiken pie recipe as well. 
 
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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in English, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Foie Gras and Orange Reduction Amuse Bouche


(serves 10)
One day I was having a crepe suzette with ice cream and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be lovely to have some foie gras with this? Somewhere along the way I dropped the crepe and ended up with a superb 3 layer foie gras suzette amuse bouche. The tart but sweet orange reduction provides an interesting contrast to the richness of the foie gras while the shot glass format allows you to control the usual appearance and temperature issues associated with canned foie gras, and to serve portions that are small enough to not overwhelm the stomach or pocket.    
 

Ingredients

  1. Canned ‘Bloc’ Foie Gras (200g)
  2. Oranges (2)
  3. Butter (80g)
  4. Shallots (10)
  5. Vanilla Ice Cream (1 scoop)
  6. Marscapone (1 scoop)
  7. Marmalade
  8. Dark Soya Sauce
  9. Lemon Grass 
  10. Cointreau

Preparation 

  1. First anbd foremost, make sure you have 10 shot glasses (the double shot type).
  2. Squeeze the juice from your oranges after cutting them into halves. Peel and then chop the shallots finely. If you have trouble finding shallots, use a (not 10) red onion instead.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan and stir fry the shallot bits on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour in the orange juice and place the orange rind, cut side down in the pan and continue cooking for a minute so some of the bitterness bleeds into the juice.
  5. Next, discard the rind, then add 2 heaped t of orange marmalade and 2t lemon grass. Proceed to boil this down till it begins to thicken. It should take a while, don’t use too high a flame after the initial stage. 
  6. When the volume has been reduced to a thin syrup consistency, stir in 0.5t soya sauce. Allow the mixture to cool; it will thicken as it cools.
  7. Divide the foie gras into the 10 shot glasses. Compact and flatten the foie gras with a small spoon by moving the shot glass in a circular fashion. Clean the oil off the top half of the inner surface of the shot glasses with a tissue for better visual impact.
  8. When the orange butter reduction has cooled, spoon it into the shot glasses as  a second layer over the foie gras. See this picture here:
  9. Left tray has foie gras patted down, right tray has orange butter sauce on top of the foie gras

  10. In a bowl, mix one ice cream scoop of vanilla ice cream, 1 scoop of marscapone and 1T of cointreau. Its ok if the ice cream melts. Spoon the mixture carefully into the shot glasses as the final layer. Add a few needles of lemongrass as a ganish.
  11. Keep the shots refrigerated chill in the freezer for 5 min to bring the temperature down further before serving. Serve with a small spoon, instructing your guests to eat all 3 layers together.

Notes

  • Use the type of canned foie gras that is labeled ‘bloc’. Just use it straight out of the can, its 98% pure foie gras and fully cooked. Do not use fresh foie gras since it is raw. Don’t use foie gras pate or mousse since you are only using a small amount per amuse bouche and you want maximum impact. 
  • Soya sauce is the secret ingredient, don’t skip it. It adds just the right amount of saltiness and darkens the orange reduction to the right colour. Use the dark soya sauce if you can, it is thicker.
  • The marscapone reduces the sweetness from the ice cream and allows for a stiffer consistency at room temperature. Don’t skip it.
  • I do not recommend this but if you are cheating by using store bought orange juice, it is essential you get the type with pulp.
  • You can use Grande Marnier instead of Cointreau. If you absolutely hate alcohol, add the cointreau to the orange juice so the alcohol boils off. However, the top creamy layer will lose all of its orange aroma and undertone.

The Apple Version

this version is made in almost the same way as the orange version. Simply make the following changes to the ingredients: 

  • replace onion with one apple cut to 1/4 inch cubes, without skin
  • replace lemongrasss with 0.5t nutmeg and 0.5t cinnamon
  • replace orange juice with 1/2 cup white wine
  • replace marmalade with 1T sugar
  • replace cointreau with sherry
 
 

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Foie Gras in Apple and Red Wine Reduction


(serves 3)
In my opinion, pan seared foie gras is the pièce de résistance of French Cuisine. When cooked in this method, you’ll find your foie gras smooth and creamy on the inside while wrapped in a thin crispy shell. It is probably the only instance where liver can actually taste delicious. For this particular version, I have chosen to use a combination of red wine, apple and marmalade to balance out the slightly oily taste of hot foie gras. 

Ingredients 

  1. Fresh Goose Foie Gras (200g)
  2. Apple (1)
  3. Onion (1/2)
  4. Pork Stock Cube
  5. Coarse Cut Marmalade 
  6. Fennel Seeds
  7. Red Wine (1/2 cup)
  8. Woustershire Sauce
  9. Butter
  10. Nutmeg
  11. Corn Flour    

Preparation 

  1. For this recipe you need half a cup of pork stock(salted), which is really an inconveniently small amount of stock. What I usually do is place half a pork stock cube, 1t of fennel seeds and 3/4 cup of boiling water in the microwave for 2 minutes. I then leave it covered for an hour for the seeds to release their flavour. If you can’t get pork stock cubes, you’ll just need to make the stock the old fashioned way, with pork bones.
  2. Your foie gras should be fresh, the type that is sealed in a chilled vacuum pack. Give some thought as to how its best to divide it equally into 3 while maintaining 1/2 inch thick pieces. You’ll normally need to slice diagonally. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper on both sides and then dust the pieces of foie gras thoroughly with corn flour. The foie gras is delicate and I find its best to do the cutting/seasoning/dusting on a cutting board. Leave to dry in the fridge.
  3. Peel and cut one (red) apple into 1/4 inch cubes and do the same with half an onion. Pan fry these with a knob of butter for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  4. Next, add half a cup of red wine, the half cup of stock (minus the fennel seeds), a dash of woustershire sauce and 3t (heaping) of coarse cut marmalade. Continue to simmer. When the liquid begins to bubble on the pan surface, adjust heat to the minimum and occasionally lift the pan off the heat to avoid getting a burnt taste. Stop when you have reduced the liquid to a thin syrup-like consistency.
  5. When the wine reduction is done, preheat a second pan with a light drizzle of olive oil. When this pan is searing hot, place your foie gras in straight from the fridge. Fry for one minute on each side and then thirty seconds on each side (i.e. 3 minutes in total). Remove immediately onto your serving plate, but leave the drippings in the pan.
  6. While the pan is still very hot, pour the apple wine reduction into the pan and mix well. Sprinkle in some black pepper and nutmeg, then check for taste. If your stock wasn’t salty enough, you might need to add some salt. Spoon the finished apple and wine reduction on and around your plated foie gras and you’re ready to impress.

Notes

  • You fry the foie gras straight from the fridge for two reasons. Firstly, this is the best way to get the outside crispy without overcooking the inside. Secondly, when left at room temperature, raw fois gras wil lose its shape.
  • If you like the inside to be soft and juicy, make your foie gras pieces 3/4 inch thick instead.
  • As you are reducing red wine without meat, do not use high tannin wines like cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
  • For this recipe, it doesn’t matter whether you use Corn Flour or Corn Starch. The idea is to give an attractive sheen and a nice crisp exterior to the foie gras. The only time you need to worry is if you use corn flour as a thickening agent, in which case if there is some flour mixed into the starch, it will leave an after taste.
  • If you like foie gras, check out my Foie Gras Creme Brulee. 
 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Appetizers, French, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Foie Gras Creme Brulee


(serves 5-6 )
This is a sinfully delicious appetizer which uses foie gras suspended in a creamy egg custard. It is a good alternative to pan fried foie gras but is easier to perfect every time. Foie gras is often accompanied by cooked fruits to provide a good contrast and in this recipe I will be using an orange and date chutney for this purpose.

Ingredients

  1. Goose Liver Pâté (250g)
  2. Eggs (4)
  3. Cream (1 cup)
  4. Orange (1)
  5. Large Dried Dates (4)
  6. Butter (30g)
  7. Grand Marnier
  8. Port
  9. Cinnamon powder
  10. Coriander seed powder
  11. Cardamon

Preparation – Custard

  1. The first step is to buy the right Pâté – see my notes below.
  2. While the pâté is still cold, cut away and discard the layer of lard (this is how you know its ‘real’ pâté by the way). Cut into small cubes and leave to warm to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the warmed pâté with 1 cup of cream, 3T of Port (or other fortified wine like Madeira), 0.5t of salt, 1t of crushed corainder seed, 1t of sugar and 1t of black pepper .   
  4. In addition, add to the bowl 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites (you won’t be needing the other 2 whites) and put the entire mixture through a food processor on high speed until the pâté disappears.
  5. Preheat your oven to 135oC (275oF) and put some water to boil.
  6. Spoon the custard into ramekins through a strainer, this will give you a smoother finish. Cover each ramekin with tin foil as tightly as you can, this will prevent condensation from marring the complexion of your custard.  
  7. Arrange the ramekins into a (or two) pyrex casserole dish and place into the oven. Using a pitcher, pour the boiling water into the casserole dish until it is half full. Bake for 1 hour. Serve in the ramekins, either straight out of the oven or refrigerated.

Preparation – Chutney

  1. While the baking take place, de-seed your dates and cut them into about 24 tiny pieces each.
  2. Squeeze the juice of your orange into a cup and using a spoon, scoop out all the remaining pulp (minus the membranes where possible).
  3. In a frying pan, melt a large knob of butter and stir fry the dates in the butter for a minute or so. Then pour in the orange juice and pulp and add a pinch of cardamon. Continue to simmer under a low flame. Break up any large chunks of orange pulp.
  4. When the juice thickens, add 2T of Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) and turn the heat off after fifteen seconds. Sprinkle in 1t of cinnamon powder and remove the chutney to a bowl where it can cool and thicken further.
  5. It doesn’t matter if the foie gras custard is being served hot or cold, serve the chutney at room temperature.

Notes

  • Most recipes I have come across specify actual pieces of foie gras but I prefer pâté (sometimes called parfaits) as the fat has been distilled out (see picture?) and the liver is already thoroughly infused with the natural sweetness of sauternes. It is important that you use ‘fresh’ pâté from the deli counter and not canned liver pâté (chicken/pork) like I suggested in these previous recipes:Liver Pâté Soufflé and Deluxe Stuffing.
  • If cost is a concern, it is ok to use duck liver pâté instead of goose, it won’t officially be foie gras anymore but it will work. Don’t use liver mousse. It looks similar to pâté but contains only 50% liver instead of the mandatory 75%.
  • Oh you may have noticed I didn’t actually brulee my custard.  You can do this if you wish but I find the chutney povides enough sweetness by itself. Sprinkle sugar over the ramekins after they have cooled, flip each over for a second so excess sugar falls off and then melt the sugar with a cigar torch which you move frequently to prevent over charring. The melted sugar will solidify into a clear coating.
  • If Foie Gras is your thing, check out my Pan Fried Foie Gras and Foie Gras in Orange Reduction Amuse-Bouche as well.
 
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Posted by on June 6, 2010 in Appetizers, French, Recipe

 

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Smoked Cod Liver


Various dishes of liver from fatty fish are served as amuse-bouche in Japanese restaurants. Those fresh fish livers are hard to come by and prepare properly but I recently discovered a canned version from Denmark.

Its somewhat close to foie gras in taste, but comes at a small fraction of the price of foie gras. And you don’t have to get self-conflicted about fish being force fed. The texture is closer to calf sweetbreads except you needn’t worry about mad cow disease.  And best of all, this smoked cod liver is rich in Omega-3. 

The size of these delightul morsels is rather small so this sets some limitations on how you can serve them.  The most obvious way would be as a replacement for foie gras, in dishes which don’t require a whole chunk of goose liver. I myself prefer to serve this delicacy as itself, as I feel many people will take delight in sampling a new taste. I often use this smoked cod liver as the basis for an amuse-bouche, flavoured with various combinations of mustard, vinegar, mirin or fortified wine. Accompany this with something crispy to maintain balance, like thin toast or roasted sesame seeds perhaps. I have a recipe using smoked cod liver on this blog, you can check it out here

An added bonus is oil with a rich smoked flavour. You can’t see it in the photo because I decanted it, but the tin comes full of Omega-3 rich oil.  You can use this oil as part of a pasta sauce or salad dressing etc.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2010 in Ingredients, Seafood

 

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