There are certain advantages and disadvantages to dating a food blogger. Waiting while your meal gets cold for the ten thousandth picture to be taken can’t be fun, nor is listening while your dining companion dissects every little minutiae of an otherwise perfectly fine meal. On the other hand, if you happen to have a 30th birthday while dating a food blogger and you, maybe, say happen to think foie gras is better than manna from heaven, well, guys, that is when it pays to date a food blogger.
My gift to B was an entire lobe of foie gras. Argue if you will, but I’ll stop you with two things: 1) No, not as expensive as you might think and 2) Yes, it felt good to support the exact opposite of what those awful protesters outside Lark stand for. It was like my own little way of fighting back. Without having to pay for a meal at Lark. Come to think of it, I liked my meal better than either of my two meals at Lark too. And I even made extra so he didn’t have to wait while I took pictures.
What’s in a four course foie gras meal? Well, we started with an amuse bouche of a shrimp, foie gras and cilantro dumpling, served in a sauce of shallots and birds eye peppers. I had been searching for how to serve the foie gras in a spicy preparation ( he loves spicy food) and this was my only answer. Next we had foie gras en croute (well, in phyllo dough, really) over a salad of arugula, strawberries and fennel dressed with aged real balsamic vinegar and foie gras drippings. This was both the dish I was most worried about turning out and the one that turned out best. The main course was seared foie gras on toasted challah bread (that’s what happens when you go bread shopping Friday afternoon for something that will go well with foie gras). The sauce on it is a port wine and date pan sauce. Lastly, I invented a heart attack in a ball, the richest little bite of delicious foie gras peanut butter ball all wrapped up in butterscotch chips.
The meal was incredible. Click past the jump for further Foie Food Porn and recipes.The amuse bouche to the foie gras dinner was one of the easiest parts for me. I knew I need a spicy element to the dinner, and only the amuse would be small enough not to be a waste of foie gras with the overwhelming spice. Spice is traditionally an element to be avoided in an amuse bouche, but with the sweetness of all of my later dishes, I think it truly did a great job of getting the palate excited and working with the later dishes.
These were also, like so much of the meal, ridiculously easy to make. I didn’t want B to be eating by himself, so I tried to keep my prep during the dinner to a minimum. These were made ahead of time and simply fried up when we were ready to start.
Using square wonton wrappers, I filled them with a mixture of equal parts chopped raw shrimp and chopped raw foie gras with a touch of chopped cilantro. A little oil in the pan, just like with any potsticker, followed by a touch of chicken stock to loosen and steam them. Meanwhile I made a sauce of chopped shallots, thai bird chiles, sesame oil, mirin, fish sauce and dark soy sauce.
Most of the foie melts into the shrimp making these simply devine, but even better, when a chunk of foie gras falls upon your tongue in these, it is simply exquisite in flavor. It makes me wonder about taking these up a notch in size. As it was, they were perfect little, one bite amuse bouches.
Next up was my biggest challenge. The salad itself was easy to set up: Arugula, sprinkled with fennel shaved on the mandoline and garnished with sliced strawberries. It was the foie gras in phyllo dough that was the hard part. How worried was I about this? Well, I put aside extra of everything in case I needed to adjust these at the last minute. In fact, they turned out perfectly as I had hoped, though not at all as I had thought. I brushed two sheets of phyllo dough with foie gras that melted off during the cooking of the foie for the dessert course (see below) and criss crossed them on the bottom of an oven proof ramekin. I set the foie in one layer (cut one of them in to two pieces to do this, but it didn’t matter, since you couldn’t see them), then crumpled the rest of the phyllo dough over top to give it a bit of a flowery styling. Shockingly, after about 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven (turned down to 300 as soon as it entered, but I don’t think that made a difference), I had crispy crunchy outside, melt in your mouth foie inside. Like a crown atop the salad, I drizzled (more!) foie gras fat along with some of our excellent aged balsamic B brought back from Italy atop it. This was, without a doubt both my biggest achievement in cooking the meal and the best course.
Finally we made it to the main course. I stopped being able to finish courses right about here. Luckily B soldiered on through his birthday meal, picking up my slack and managing to down both his own main course and a good part of mine (I told you he loves foie gras!). I toasted the slices of challah bread in our toaster, seared the foie gras and topped it with a very simple port wine and date sauce. How simple? I simmered a handful of dates in a 2:1 ratio of port to stock and 1 cinnamon stick for 30 minutes, then took the top off and let it reduce, removing the cinnamon stick and leaving the chunks of date in for texture. How much more is there to say about this dish? Searing foie gras has to be about the easiest thing. I did it by heating up my cast iron skillet for a few minutes, dropping in the foie gras for about a minute on each side (it was pretty thick). I used the extra fat here by adding it to the port wine sauce just before serving.
And finally, I answer the question you’ve all been waiting for: How do you make a foie gras dessert (besides foie gras ice cream, which, I might add, has been done many times before, and maybe done again, hint, hint, hint). I made this one by searing a small amount of foie gras and mixing it at a 2:1 ration with peanut butter. The balls ended up being way too big, so if you are using this as a recipe, I’d do it 1:1 and just make smaller balls. Bring the peanut butter to room temperature before you mix it for easier mixing. While it is still warm from mixing, roll the balls in butterscotch chips, then put them in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour. These were so rich, and I’d made them so large that neither of us could even make it to a second bite. And we love this kind of thing. And they were delicious. We. Just. Could. Not. Do. It. Complete failure. Luckily they keep well and we snuck to-die-for bites from the fridge over the course of the following week.
Death by Foie, I say, after this meal, it wouldn’t be such a bad way to go!