Friday, June 29, 2007

Get me Judy Blume!

It's time for her to write one of her trademark coming-of-age books -- this time, about a woman who deveins her first foie gras.

People: if your pet duck ever needs some sort of liver surgery involving a veinectomy, call me. Stat! I found that main vein in both lobes pretty quickly and was able to remove it without totally having to hack apart the entire liver. And, I spent a decent amount of time removing all those smaller veins, as well.

Once I got past the squicky feeling of handling the foie and began to work on it, I was hooked. Seriously. I could do this every day and love it. OCD anyone?

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I ended up not taking photos of the deveining process. It just wasn't an option. I'll try to do it next time I do a foie gras, and have a friend do the photography. I just didn't think it was worth waking up the neighbors at 12:45 a.m. to Richard Avedon the whole she-bang.

Here are the photos from last night's post-deveining prep. First up? The marinade for the foie -- kosher salt, sugar, white pepper, and pink salt:

I coated both sides of the reassembled foie with the marinade:

Then, I covered the foie with plastic wrap, then wrapped the whole container in plastic wrap:

It's sitting in the fridge for another 24 hours. So, tonight, I'll do another step and I'll share it with you later.

By the way, if any of you who've worked with foie gras see anything in these photos that might indicate a massive prep error on my part, please let me know. Comments like, "wow, that looks kind of hacked up"? Not helpful. What I mean is, if you see something in the prep that indicates I might be killing my parents on their 46th wedding anniversary on Sunday by them eating this, you should let me know that. Otherwise, helpful hints are most appreciative.

Answering some comments from the previous post: the foie came from Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia, where my restaurant-owning friends get their foie gras, and it weighs about 1.7 pounds. And yes, I realize I may get some nasty comments from the anti-foie gras crowd. I'm okay with that. It goes with the territory. No one from PETA contacted me about the lobster video, so if anyone wants to debate foie gras, go for it.


Unknown said...

Wow, I am just so in awe of the fact that you are using it!! And not in the 'how can you eat this way?!?' but in the 'I don't know that I would ever try to make it at home myself'

Keep in mind I have never prepared this myself, but from what I have seen so far of what you are doing and remembering what I have read, you seem to be doing everything correct:)

Have fun with the fois, can hardly wait to read your next post.

Cerebrum said...

Looks right to me! And I have tried it a couple times... Can't wait to see the finished dish!

The Foodist said...

In my experience Foie is bested preped and used fresh.

Which recipe from French Laundry are you following here?

And by "Pink Salt" what do you mean?

I may be of some help if I can!

Anonymous said...

Nice! You must be making the torchon with pickled cherries. I made that last year, and it is awesome. (I'm something of a foie whore, actually, it's even in my most recent post.) You did a magnificent job deveining your foie. My foie looked like some kind of gruesome lab experiment after I deveined it. By the way, the pickled cherries are absolutely sensational. Your parents are very lucky.

By the way, anyone who's got an ethical problem with foie gras should read this article, an in depth examination of how ducks are raised on a Quebec farm. I think it's very even-handed.

Oh yeah, I don't see you doing anything that would endanger your parents. Pink salt, which contains sodium nitrate, is used specifically because it kills the botulism bacteria. As long as you're using that, you should be okay, and, even then, the risk is minute.

Anonymous said...

ok - i'm saying it. i love you. no, no, no... not in the biblical sense... but i love what you're doing and i love your writing and although i'm coming in late in the year - but this is gonna be a very fun ride... thanks...

Anonymous said...

Wow, no comment on whether you're preparing it correctly (since I ate it for the first time about 3 weeks ago) but I did want to say that it looks huge! For some reason, I thought it would be smaller?

However, I do have some experience in the yucky de-veining, de-membraning area; when I was a kid, my grandmother used to make cow brain soup (yeah, not such a good thing in today's age of mad cow and such). I helped her clean the brain. Yuck. Unfortunately, I still remember the taste of it - NOTHING like foie gras. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Bravo and congratulations! I agree with rob's post above. Looks like you're doing everything right. I find the de-nerving/deveining to be soothing and the taste is just incomparable.

M said...

I'm confused about how one could read and recommend the article referenced above and still approve of using/eating foie gras.

I'm not condemning anyone, but genuinely wondering the justifications one feels for using such a product.

I know all animal products cause animal suffering (as the article mentions) but since this one is not a main ingredient in many of our diets the way eggs, milk, and more traditional meats are, it seems even more easy to avoid.

And since the process is even more intrusive (force-feeding) than many other agribusiness practices, it has been singled out more than other animal food products.

My question is what do those who eat and cook with this product think about those and other issues related to the production of this item?

Anonymous said...

m, to be honest, I don't understand why anyone would fuss over foie gras when they could be fussing over the way regular chickens that get sold in the supermarket are treated. It seems counter-productive to go after the luxury items that comparatively few people buy when one could be going after the industries that sell contaminated meat to the masses.

The foie gras looks beautiful. I've never had it, but I like to dispatch lobsters by steaming them alive, and then tearing them apart to get at every bit of the meat. And the lobster videos made me cackle. Keep going, I'm LOVING this blog.

An Attendant Cook said...

Jess' comment seems absolutely on the money. I don't think there is much comparison between the production of foie gras and industrial chicken or hog or beef production.

I'm very much looking forward to the post-service posting! This blog is great.

M said...


Because someone "fusses" over fois gras doesn't at all mean they don't also "fuss" over other issues involving treatment of animals in the food industry. I know I, for one, "fuss" over all of it.

However, since someone linked to an article about fois gras in the comments for this post and since the post itself is about fois gras, it seemed relevant to discuss that here.

Additionally, since eating chicken and the like is much more commonplace in our country and many are therefore all that much more reluctant to give it up, one may be a bit more hopeful that by discussing the production of fois gras--which can easily be avoided since it is as you said a luxury item not eaten as frequently as some other meats (whereas other meats are much more a staple in the average American diet)--that consumers of the product may rethink their choices, since the product can be avoided without any major changes to one's life and diet.

Hope that explains some of the discrepancy for you. I can't speak for others who are opposed to fois gras, but that's my viewpoint.

primaz said...

This is for any ignorant foi gras haters!

I know what foi gras is and I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Furthermore I have been to places like France and have been to tours of the foi gras farms. They are treated much better than you think and better than US chickens and turkeys. I had a personal tour and the ducks are dumb they eat what they want until the last month where they do feed by tube but I witnessed it in person and the ducks are not unhappy at all. They are like goldfish in that they love to eat and yes their liver is expanded but they are not treated badly. At least the farms I have seen in France. I commented to him that he could sell more as he had room but he replied," I am happy with my fixed amount I do every year and when they sell out they gone". Maybe US duck farms with our capitalistic tendencies over cram the ducks per square feet and that should be changed, but to outlaw them is NOT right!

Foi gras should be available to anyone whom wants to eat it. The ducks if treated like the farms I visited in France are not treated in humanly. I feel we should make every efforts in making sure all duck farms treat their ducks correctly but not ban them at all! The ducks I witnessed are treated like royalty and only their last month do they get fed twice a day with a tube and believe me they are not suffering.

I will make every effort to educate people that foi gras is a great food and that the ducks are not treated badly! I think ignorant people are taking it to the extreme and should be ashamed at your tactics and misrepresentation of foi gras!