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Need Some Pointers for Searing Foie Gras

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Just a little background, my fiance's 30th birthday is coming up, so I decided that I'd cook for her. I have NEVER cooked for her before basically because I don't know how. Last weekend I picked up a cookbook and did a trial run for a roast Lamb recipe which turned out very well surprisingly. Anyhow, with that out of the way, I'd like to try this recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/reci..._20265,00.html

As a totally newbie to cooking I'm looking for some pointers. I read some hints such as cooking outside since it smokes alot, and putting slices in the freezer for 5-10min to just firm the slices up a bit.

1. I searched a few different foie gras recipes and they all say to use medium-high heat, how do I tell if my pan is hot enough?
2. Also, none of the recipes I've read for searing foie gras mentioned anything about oiling the pan before dropping in the slices, am I supposed to just sear it without oil and just season with what the recipe says?

I apologize, for my lack of knowledge in this area, I guess it's just some of those things you don't learn in a cookbook.

PS. Please don't give me the PETA line. I know all about the way Froie Gras is made.
post #2 of 14
No argument from me: I've got a T-shirt that says "Stop tofu abuse. Eat more foie gras."

But, wow! you picked a hard -- and expensive -- food to start with. Every other part of that recipe is easy, yes. Foie gras is tricky to cook because it is mostly fat (that's what "gras" means). If the pan is too cool, you won't get a good sear on the outside; if it is too hot, you might just melt the whole slice and have nothing left. :cry:

I don't think you'll have to worry about creating too much smoke with that recipe. You should be able to do it all on the stove inside with no problem. But if you have a way to vent, use it. Just in case.

My suggestion is that you first get to know your stove burners. If the knobs that control the heat of the burners have markings that indicate the heat level, go by that. Obviously, medium-high will be about halfway between the medium and high markers.

If you have gas and the knobs are no help, try this: Put a pot of water on the burner you plan to use (this is just so that you have a cooking pot to compare the level of the flame against, and the water is so that you don't hurt the pot.) Turn the burner on so that it just manages to stay on: that's low. Look under the pot to see the actual level of the flame in relation to the bottom of the pot, and try to remember what that looks like. Then turn the flame all the way up, as far as it can go. That's high. Look again and remember that. Now turn on the flame and play with the level until it looks about halfway between high and low. That's (duh) medium. Remember what that looks like. Finally, turn the burner on and try to get the flame midway between medium and high; that's . . . ? Right: medium-high. Imprint that in your memory. :look:

Of course, if you have an electric stove, none of that will work. :rolleyes: For electric you won't need to put a pot on the burner. You will need to eyeball how much of the coil heats up and turns red.

When you're ready to cook, you'll want to put your skillet on the burner and let it heat for about a minute or so before you put in the foie. Put your hand over the pan, a couple of inches above, and when you feel that the heat coming through is not getting any hotter, the pan is ready. It will really help if the skillet you use is heavy -- cast iron, or thick aluminum or stainless steel. It will take a while for one of those to get hot enough. But if all you have is a thin pan, it will work fine; just preheat the pan for less time. The main thing is feeling how much heat is coming through.

Then you can put in the seasoned foie and go on with the recipe.

Finally: if you want to practice a few times before the big day, you can always invite me over as a test taster. :lol:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 14
As always, Suzanne is a wealth of info.

This article by Wayne Nish may be of interest to you as well.
Enjoy your meal.

http://www.hudsonvalleyfoiegras.com/finecooking.html
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank-you Suzanne and Cape Chef! Yeah, I'm rather worried I'll mess it up and it's definitely not cheap stuff! I may try and do a trial run the day before and use my family as guniea pigs. =D

The ventilation for my kitchen stove is rather poor so I was thinking of using the side burner on my bbq. I'll have to check to see if it has gradient knob.

So I assume I don't oil the pan? I just season the foie gras according to the recipe and throw it on?

Thanks again for the tips, definitely most helpful!

PS. Do you guys think that recipe will taste good? I picked it mainly because it was a searing recipe and was rated "easy".
post #5 of 14
Do not add any fat to your pan/skillet. The liver is made up primarily of fat.

The recipe is fine, although apples are really not I would be highlighting this time of year. I nice rhubarb/strawberry gastrique based compote would work beautifully with the foie.

What are you planning on drinking with your meal?

Have fun.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tip, I couldn't find whether to use oil or not anywhere online!

Hmmm... the rhubarb/strawberry gastrique based compote sounds pretty good. I'll try and google a recipe unless you got one.

I haven't put too much thought into wine for this meal. Any recommendations?
post #7 of 14
Great article CC. Like Nish, I like to use a really hot pan. That way you get a really nice sear and some nice caramelization without rending out too much of the fat.
post #8 of 14
Another way to tell the approx. heat of your pan without a fancy infrared thermometer:

Drop a few drops of water on it. If the water sits there, laughing at you, the pan is not very hot, if at all. If the water starts bubbling around the edges, the pan is just a bit hot. If the water jumps around, like it's in pain, then the pan is in the right range for medium searing (or pancakes, for that matter). If the water pops up and disappears, the pan is smokin' hot, probably too hot for your foie gras.

Good luck.
post #9 of 14
one thing i didnt see anyone mention but i may have missed, i have never seen a peice of foie gras that had the vein removed already. if you are buying it at a location where they will remove that for you i would recomend that otherwise you can do it yourself. the foie gras is usualy sold in 2 lobes that are attached to each otherjust gently seperate them and remove any veins that you see with a sharp pairing knife. the higher the grade of foie gras you purchase the less you should have to remove, there may also be a few peices of gristle or connective tissue just carefully remove any little bits that look like they dont belong. let us know how it turns out. and best of luck.:D i am sure it will go over well (p.s. i like to use a raspberry muscat redux with a hint of lime for a sauce)
i pledge my professional knowladge and skill to the advancement of our profession and to pass it on to those that are to follow..... ACF pledge
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i pledge my professional knowladge and skill to the advancement of our profession and to pass it on to those that are to follow..... ACF pledge
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post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the tips all! I'll let you know how it turns out. I think I'm going to do a trial run before the day just in case.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to thank everyone for all your pointers. Dinner went pretty well, I unfortunately made a few mistakes so it wasn't perfect. I was trying to sear the foie gras and left the rack of lamb in the oven a tad too long. AND I forgot to season the foie gras! Turns out pan-seared unseasoned foie gras is pretty good too! Some friends came over after and I did the foie again with seasoning so it turned out in the end.
post #12 of 14
looks like we have a chef in the making on our hands now. :roll:
post #13 of 14
Yeah, I love to see people getting into cooking, even if just for themselves, their friends, and families. :D Gives me a glimmer of hope! :bounce:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
:lol: I wouldn't call myself a chef in the making... how about a person that can follow directions that are written down and explicit and take good advice from the excellent forum members here. =D

I won't be making foie gras in the near future, but for future reference, I tried looking for this large vein but when I split the lobes apart, one side started to crumble as it was claylike texture when I started working on it. I never really got at the veins properly. Maybe I just had a decent quality piece that didn't have much veins, but there were a few stringy pieces that went lengthwise down the lobes.
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