Foie Gras in Blackberry Sauce


            I got alarmed when I read Michael Ruhlman’s piece on MegNut’s site about a certain politician wanting to pass a bill to ban the sale of foie gras in New Jersey (it’s already banned in Chicago). I hope such idiotic laws do not see the light of day in Virginia. In any case, this made me look at the contents of my freezer and realize that I am out of these precious morsels of duck liver; I usually buy a whole lobe to cut up and freeze.  It makes a fabulous first course or appetizer; all you need is something tart to cut through its richness. I have tasted it cold as a torchon or lightly pan seared; I prefer the latter preparation because the former sits heavier in my stomach and would simply ruin my appetite for the main course. Of course it is a matter of preference.

           For this preparation I loosely adapted a recipe from Patrick O’ Connell’s “Inn at Little Washington”.

Blackberry sauce

            1 tbs butter

            1 tbs chopped shallots

            6 oz. fresh blackberries

           1/3 cup water

            2 tbs currant jelly

            1 tbs chicken stock

            ½ tsp finely chopped thyme

            Freshly ground pepper to taste

            In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the shallot and blackberries and sweat for 3 minutes. Add the currant jelly, water and stock and reduce until it is the consistency of syrup. Remove from heat and strain. Add the time and pepper. Add the thyme and pepper.

NOTE: In case you are lazy to make a sauce, you can buy sauternes jelly to have on standby, even lingonberry preserves are pretty good with foie gras.

Foie Gras

            Foie gras

            Salt and pepper to taste

            Fresh black berries    

            To prepare the foie gras, soak it in ice water for about 10 minutes. This draws out the blood and firms up the flesh to prepare for slicing. Separate the two lobes and remove any visible fat and sinew. Using a very sharp knife dipped in warm water, slice the foie gras on a bias about ¼ inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet, sear the foie gras on each side for about 30 seconds, or just until golden brown until a crust forms. Remove from skillet and blot on paper towels. Pour off any excess fat and deglaze with the blackberry sauce. Add fresh blackberries and

reduce to syrupy consistency.


            The first time I bought foie gras I did not know what a fresh lobe looked like. In short I was clueless as to what to do with it. The ice water bath and the warm knife really makes life easier as to its slicing so never skip this step. Also the first time we cooked it, we were seized with panic as we watched the slices dissolved steadily into a puddle of fat. I was left with barely discernible pieces of foie gras and any self respecting chef or chef wannabe for that matter, will be aghast by such irreverent treatment. It is best that the foie gras be at room temperature before cooking since you want a nice melting center to emerge as you sear it, which will not happen if it is cold. Foie gras freezes very well so don’t be discouraged from buying the whole thing. Remember, it could be intimidating to handle at first, but after your first one it gets a lot easier.



16 thoughts on “Foie Gras in Blackberry Sauce

  1. It is kind of tricky to cut it at 1/4 inch thick, and the "hungry" hubby also told me to cut it thicker next time so there'll be more of the melting center. Thanks for the link to your post ! I always love good information on foie gras.

  2. So great to see that foie gras is making many inroads into more and more home kitchens, especially in light of the recent legislation in Chicago. Not to mention to the threat of it in New Jersey and even (gasp) New York. Thanks for the tips: I never would have thought to bring it back to room temp before searing.

  3. Veronica,
    Our differing diets may ensure that we never cook the same dish for the eventual Richmond Foodie potluck, but I think we've got some gourmet overlap going on nonetheless. As little as I think of tortured duck liver, I must admit that I wanna know what it tastes like… ever since I saw Ming make foie gras creme brulee on Iron Chef. Anyhow, peek at my blog for a preview of my honeymoon in Mexico. The report back is bound to include little bits of meat in my mostly veggie cuisine. Ahhh, collateral damage. What can you do?

  4. Jared – yes I guess with all that legislation going on everywhere , homecooks have to take it into their own hands to make sure they can still eat foie gras anytime and anywhere they please. I'm encouraging my friends to cook it at home themselves :).

    rva foodie – at least you are curious as to its taste. If it makes you feel any better, I was tortured as a child to eat my veggies. I'm a carnivore, no meal is complete without some kind of meat and I mean real meat (not tofu). About the only meat I refuse to eat is dog meat…and it's because I hate the taste . I look forward to the Richmond Foodie potluck !

  5. I love foie gras! I would love to be able to prepare it a home…but have been a little daunted at the thought as it is quite expensive and I wouldn't want to ruin it. You make it seem very easy though…any tips on de-veining?

  6. Hi Joey –
    You can use a sharp paring knife to get the veins out or you can just use the same knife you used to slice it. You need to put the foie gras in an icebath for about 10 minutes, that is so that the flesh does not fall apart as you work with it. Also, as you slice it with a warm knife you will see some veins and you can pull it out as you go. It gets easier after you go through one.

  7. This sounds wonderful! I’m going to try it tomorrow night. But I cut my own slices at least 3/4 to 7/8 inches thick, or even a little more (As Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras recommends on their Web site). If you’re searing them briefly in a 400-degree cast-iron pan (get yourself an infrared temperature gun, they’re addictive!) the raw slices shrink at *least* in half in a matter of seconds. You’re pouring off at least half their weigh in liquid fat! The first time I cooked them, I cut them about 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick as per whatever recipe I was using and it was wrong — they cooked up *much* too thin and there was hardly anything to eat. And I’ve discovered that 400 rather than 450 degrees for the pan is the correct temperature. No wonder restaurants charge a fortune for them — if you buy a pound of foie gras and cook it in slices you’re probably going to be serving no more than half a pound of the cooked stuff….

  8. The blackberry sauce was delicious with the foie gras — tasted much better with it than it did standing alone.

    At the very end of the recipe I added about 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to give it a little tang and stirred in about 1 teaspoon soft butter to thicken it a tad.

    The recipe should give the cooking *time* — it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to cook it down to the point where the (crushed) blackberries should be strained. And it should note that a fairly coarse strainer should be used — I used a very fine one and it took me *forever* to force the stuff through it….

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