Pan-Seared Foie Gras Mousse Au Poivre

Whoever first had the idea to whip fatty goose liver with heavy cream, and then proceed to add a cap of hardened butter on top – I praise you.

I find myself saying so and so is my favorite food, then a minute later claiming something else is my favorite food.  “Pizza,” “mashed potatoes,” “bacon,” “tacos,” “macaroni and cheese,” “oysters,” “pickles,” “queso,” “Chipotle burrito bowls” and “any cheese on the face of the earth” have come out of my mouth at some point in response to that question.

But if I’m being honest, foie gras is my favorite food of all time. I mean it.

There’s really not much you can do to make foie gras, in whatever form it comes in, better than it already is. So my idea here was to leave the mousse completely unadulterated, and treat it like a steak. So I seared it on high with an au poivre coating, which if you don’t know what that is – is just a fancy way of saying crushed black peppercorns – and it was hard not to inhale the whole thing Kirby-style.

foiegras.jpg

The quality of the foie gras mousse, or any foie gras product you’re purchasing, should always be sky-high. Go ahead, skimp on the fresh shrimp for the frozen shrimp. But I’d never mess around when it comes to foie gras. With all the intense animal flavor in there, there’s not much room for error. And you don’t want to gross any other eaters who are already tentative on trying it.

Whole Foods sells a great brand – Greenwich village-based Trois Petite Corchons. But any high quality brand would be delicious here.

My next move? Making my own foie gras mousse! Stay tuned. But before I give it a go, any pointers?

 I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 to 6 as an hors d’oeuvre.

  • 8 oz. foie gras mousse, of your choosing
  • 6 to 8 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *450.
  2. Right from the fridge, slice the mousse in long pieces, and distribute the peppercorns evenly on side of the mousse. Press down on the peppercorns so they embed.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Place the mousse slices in the oil, searing for 2 minutes on each side, browning the mousse slightly. Be careful when flipping, as the mousse can fall apart. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. To make the crostini, put the slices of baguette on a sheet pan and brush each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven and broil until the crostini are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Arrange the seared foie gras mousse on a serving plate alongside the crostini. Serve with parsley for garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

Rack of Lamb with Black Truffle & Morel Pan Sauce

Sometimes my mind wanders to scenarios like, “What if I could I buy truffles by the dozen?”

When I really think about it, I don’t want to live in a world with a caviar aisle. I live for the rare occasions when I get to splurge on a French cheese aged for decades in a cave sold by monks or a bank-breaking filet of perfectly marbled wagyu beef.

Hope exists for those of us who don’t have a $1,500 line item in our budget for truffles each month.

If and when you’re ready, authentic truffles can be found in butters sold online, but be wary about the vendor you choose.

D’Artagnan products, which I aspire to stock my fridge with, are great quality – they sell white and black truffle butters and oils that are surprisingly affordable. They also sell beautiful fresh chickens. When I place an order, I’ll splurge and buy several tubs of truffle butter to freeze and have on hand for special occasions.

This presentation calls for a packed audience, an encore, and a standing ovation with dozens of thrown rose bouquets. Make this at a dinner party, holiday, or on a special anniversary.

A tried-and-true side dish for any roasted meat is the versatile potato, and whipped potatoes always serve as an elegant accompaniment to any meat-heavy main course.

For a piquant twist, try the mash component of my Jägermeister & Guinness-Poached Blood Bangers and Mash, being sure to whip the potatoes vigorously so they develop that airy consistency. The added Dijon mustard twang works perfectly with the hefty flavors here.

You won’t be breaking the bank with this, but your guests won’t know that. They’ll be too busy experiencing truffle nirvana to even speculate.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 – 6, depending on appetites. I have eaten an  entire rack of lamb before, so in my case this may serve 1.

  • 1 rack of lamb, frenched
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, minced
  • 2 oz. dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 small shallot, minced
  • 3 oz. black truffle butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 / 2 black truffle, shaved for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

O p t i o n a l

For a perfect side, serve with the mash from Hankerings’ Jägermeister & Guinness-Poached Blood Bangers and Mash.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *450.
  2. Place the dried morels in warm water for 15 minutes to reconstitute the mushrooms Remove from the bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 /4 cup of the liquid for the pan sauce. Cut the stems off, slice the mushrooms in thick rounds, and set aside.
  3. Ensure the fatty membranes are fully removed from the lamb chop bones – if needed trim off of some of the sinew so all that remains are the chops and bones with a cap of fat.
  4. Rub the whole rack of lamb with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, minced rosemary, and salt & pepper, ensuring the seasonings are covering all sides.
  5. In a cast iron skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until near-smoking. Pan sear the lamb rack fat side down first for 3 to 4 minutes. Ensure your vent fan is turned on or a window is open – your kitchen will get smoky.
  6. Sear the rack on the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes, so that the underside of the chops have a chance to brown.
  7. Place the lamb in the oven, cooking for 15 minutes for rare and 18 minutes for medium-rare.
  8. Remove the lamb from the oven, and cover with foil while you prepare the pan sauce.
  9. In the same cast iron skillet, add the truffle butter, morels and shallot. Sautee for 3 to 4 minutes until the shallot becomes translucent. Next, add the cornstarch, heavy cream and 1 / 4 cup of the reserved liquid used to reconstitute the mushrooms. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by about half and thickened from the cornstarch. It should be glossy.
  10. Cut the lamb rack into chops, pouring a generous amount of sauce over the plated chops & serve family-style at the table. With a shaving utensil, shave black truffle over the chops.

Beef Wellington Tartare

What’s the opposite of a picky eater? Whatever it’s called, I’m that. But I won’t preach perfection. Black licorice, pretzels, grape juice, mint or, and here’s the kicker – puff pastry – don’t do it for me.

Beef Wellington should absolutely fall in my wheelhouse. Mushrooms, filet mignon, Dijon mustard, ham, Pâté, shallots & garlic. And it’s a gorgeous presentation to boot.

This sans-pastry recipe let’s me have my cake and eat it too. And the runny egg doesn’t hurt either.

Chances are you like puff pastry. I wish I did. But this dish encapsulates the essentials of the classic, with a lot less hassle. I’ve heard several horror stories – one that involved waking up at 6 AM to mince mushrooms. Another recalled a burnt pastry and undercooked beef situation.

Speaking of holiday cooking disasters, does anyone else watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation year-round and think it’s wildly underrated? I can recite that entire damn movie line-by-line. That dinner scene when Clark goes to carve the turkey Ellen’s sister put in the oven too early, and it cracks open with a puff of smoke, makes me howl every time.

I’ve eaten everything from grasshoppers to alligator to pig eyeball. And a lot more weird stuff that I can’t remember. I’ve liked every single one of those food experiences. But I still can’t stomach puff pastry. Go figure.

To quote cousin Eddie at that famous dinner scene…

Save the neck for me, Clark.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 2 tartare servings.

  • 1 6 oz. filet mignon, chopped finely
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 4 oz. foie gras Pâté, or another Pâté if preferred, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 4 oz. Parma ham or prosciutto
  • 2 quail eggs yolks
  • 8 button mushrooms, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 / 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, minced, plus additional for garnish
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Flatbread, for serving with the tartare

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the beef, half the shallot, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Set in the fridge to marinate.
  2. On medium-low heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sauté the mushrooms, the rest of the shallot, garlic and thyme. Add a pinch of salt to render some of the liquid from the mushrooms.
  3. Once the mushrooms are lightly browned, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. To arrange the tartare, take a 3 inch round mold and press down on a layer of Pâté. This will be the tartare base. Brush 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard on top. Then add a slice of Parma ham or prosciutto of similar size and shape, followed by half the cooled mushroom mixture. Finally, top with half the chilled beef mixture, pressing down in the mold to form into a circular shape. Repeat for the second tartare.
  5. Place both plates, while still in the round mold, in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
  6. Remove from the fridge, slide the tartares out of the round molds, and create a slight indent on the top with your thumb, sliding a quail egg yolk into the indent.
  7. Sprinkle with minced thyme, serving immediately alongside flatbread for scooping.

Capered Salmon en Papillote

We’ve all heard the stereotype that French recipes are notorious for being highly complex – requiring hours and hours of preparation, expert-level tempering and knife techniques. But so much of their cooking is incredibly simple and so damn elegant.

It’s why France is arguably the global mecca for foodies. With an added emphasis on the word arguably.

One preparation they use for fish encloses it in parchment paper with aromatics and seasonings, and bakes it in the oven, often with in-season vegetables.

It makes for a beautiful presentation, and because it’s fish, there’s not much actual cooking time involved.

I had been wanting to try this technique for a while and finally got around to it. I wasn’t sure how achieve the moon-shaped package with a square piece of parchment paper, so I sourced a technique from the New York Times.

There’s an undeniable wow element when you’re served the fish enclosed in the package and opening it up to see what’s inside.

Just human nature I guess. Must be why wrapping paper exists. Or in my case, newspaper.

Because brine is life, I went hard on the capers. I mixed together a simple sauce to accompany the salmon with capers and thyme, to mirror the flavors used with the fish.

I remember to tell myself – simple can be incredibly elegant. The French taught us that much. I hope you enjoy this. Let me know what your other go-to herbs, vegetables and seasonings you like to use on salmon –  I bet they’d be great here.

I’m thinking an Asian-inspired version? Soy sauce, chili oil, scallions & sesame seeds?

Bon Appetit!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 6 – 8 oz. filets salmon, silver skin removed
  • I small shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

F o r  t h e  C a p e r  S a u c e

  • 3 oz. crème fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon capers, minced
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon minced thyme
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *400.
  2. Cut two pieces of parchment paper, about 1 1 / 2 foot long, into large heart-shaped pieces.
  3. Place the salmon filets on one half of the parchment paper, folding over to ensure there’s enough paper to completely enclose the fish.
  4. Once it’s correctly placed, sprinkle the filets with salt and pepper.
  5. Top with slices of shallot, capers, several springs of thyme, and 1 tablespoon of butter per filet.
  6. Fold over the edges of the parchment paper starting at the bottom of the heart shape, until the fish is completely enclosed. It’s a similar technique you would use to crimp the edges of a pie so that the filling doesn’t escape while baking.
  7. Cook the fish for 12 minutes for medium-rarish, 15 minutes for well-done.
  8. In the meantime, combine the caper sauce ingredients. Serve in small ramekins.
  9. Remove the salmon from the oven & serve it immediately plating it, parchment and all, with sauce on the side.
  10. IMPORTANT: Stick your nose in and inhale that first whiff when you tear open the package.