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.
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 Petits Cochons. 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
- Preheat the oven to *450.
- Right from the fridge, slice the mousse in long pieces, and distribute the peppercorns evenly on one side of the mousse. Press down on the peppercorns so they embed.
- 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.
- 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.
- Arrange the seared foie gras mousse on a serving plate alongside the crostini. Serve with parsley for garnish, if desired.
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
- Combine the beef, half the shallot, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Set in the fridge to marinate.
- 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.
- Once the mushrooms are lightly browned, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- 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.
- Place both plates, while still in the round mold, in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
- 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.
- Sprinkle with minced thyme, serving immediately alongside flatbread for scooping.