Pierre Nief, the chef at Bistro 4 Saisons, is a native of France and for him, foie gras is a festive, comfort food that can be prepared a multitude of ways. He includes it as a starter and main course on his menus, and when we interviewed him, we discovered why he is such fan of this quintessentially French fare.

What exactly is foie gras?

When you force-feed geese or ducks, their livers become very fat and rich. In France, foie gras is a culinary delicacy. It comes from the Egyptians, who were making it as far as 3,000 years ago!

What should you look for when choosing a piece of foie gras?

The main difference between choosing foie gras is choosing the species: duck or goose. I also recommend getting to know your producer or supplier, and building up a relationship of trust.

You can find some very good foie gras locally. I get mine from the Hudson Valley duck farm.

Hudson Valley

How does it taste?

Foie gras has a subtle, mild, and slightly sweet taste. If you eat it warm (but not hot!) in a terrine, it takes on the consistency of butter. If you eat it as a pan-fried escalope, it will melt in your mouth!

How do you prepare it?

To prepare it as a terrine, don’t season it too much, because you’ll overpower its fragrant aroma. I use only salt and pepper with a dash of alcohol, like armagnac or sauternes (or why not Quebec ice cider!?)

Foie gras is much quicker to prepare as an escalope. Just fry it for two minutes on one side, then one minute on the other and that’s it! Hold on to the cooking fat. You can use it in other recipes.

Ricardo

How else can you eat foie gras?

You can incorporate it in practically every type of food… For example, you can add (cooked) foie gras to crème brûlée. That makes a rich, delicious dish!

Another example is when making gravy. By taking meat juices and reducing them, you can add the sauce to the foie gras, instead of using butter. I use the cooking fat from other recipes to make stovetop popcorn.

You can incorporate the fat into ice cream… There’s no limit to the possibilities!

What if I don’t like foie gras?

First of all, you have to think back to what you didn’t like about foie gras the first time you tried it.  Was it the taste? The texture? There are so many dishes in which foie gras is one of the ingredients that after a while, you will more than likely not even recognize it as the original product you disliked!

You said foie gras was on the menu at Bistro 4 Saisons?

Yes it is! I make a delicious starter of pan-fried foie gras which I serve with fruit puree and home-baked brioche. It’s a fragrant dish, so I try not to manipulate the ingredients too much to conserve its distinct aromas.

Sometimes I add a slice of foie gras to a beef fillet. And I sometimes make a Perigord sauce, which is featured on the à la carte menu and the group menu.

If reading all this has built up a hearty appetite, then head for Bistro 4 Saisons to sample the dishes for yourself! Pierre and his team are waiting for you…

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