Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Dec 23, 2004 01:42 PM

What's the difference between fois gras and plain ol' Jewish chopped liver?

  • m

Please advise!

Mr. Taster

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Pate de foie gras is made from the fattened liver of either duck or goose. Jewish-style chopped liver is made from chicken liver, onions and hard-cooked eggs. There's a huge difference in flavor and in texture.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Deenso

      So what else is mixed into fois gras for flavor in addition to the liver? What makes it so expensive?

      Mr. Taster

      1. re: Mr. Taster

        It is scarce and expensive to produce. There is nothing else like it.

        1. re: Mr. Taster

          One other way that foie (not fois) gras differs from chopped liver is that foie gras is the whole liver of the moulard duck. The product that would be comparable (in a manner of speaking) to chopped liver is pate de foie gras, which Deenso mentioned.

          Foie gras is expensive because its production is expensive and labor intensive. Moulard ducks are a cross between two breeds of duck. Moulards themselves are sterile, which means than you can't just breed moulards to produce more moulards. Each one is a genetic dead end. One egg yields one duck, whereas a chicken egg can yield, after a few generations, a whole lot of chickens.

          In addition, the ducks are force fed which is labor intensive. I assume chickens are fed by machines that automatically supply them with the proper meal portion. Force feeding the ducks is, as far as I know, done one at a time by one individual. That adds considerably to the labor costs. I believe the chickens that are killed for sale in markets (with their livers) meet their maker at a fairly early age ... just a few months. The common breeds have been selected for rapid weight gain and efficient "use" of chicken feed. The ducks, I believe, live somewhat longer than the chickens before they are slaughtered, which means a greater investment in feed and labor.

          Pate de foie gras generally has more expensive ingredients than chopped liver. Examples: Sauternes, cognac.

          1. re: Mr. Taster

            Nothing is mixed into foie gras. It is the liver of the bird -- duck or goose.

            Now, if you're talking about pate de foie gras, that is liver "paste" or pate, into which the cook may mix all manner of stuff. Because the foie gras -- the liver -- will be the most expensive ingredient, most cooks use other quality/luxury ingredients in pate de foie gras -- like the aforementioned sauternes and cognac. Another luxury ingredient you may encounter in pate de foie gras is tuffles.

        2. is this another trick/joke of a question????? lololol

          1. About $75 a pound.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FlyFish

              if you own a penthouse on park avenue or other similar domicile and/or domiciles i guess you make your jewish chopped liver using foie gras instead of whatever type of liver is on sale at waldbaums
              i wonder what vintage dated schmaltz tastes like?

            2. Foie is a cut of meat -- an engorged liver of duck or goose. Chopped liver is made with chicken livers. Foie, when served sliced and seared (not made into pate or terrine or mousse)is indescribably rich. Like liver with the "livery" smell and taste pushed way into the background and lush, buttery, earthy richness in the foreground.

              All that said, if you make a mean chopped liver (which my wife does), it can be pretty darn good. The one BIG thing that I learned from her is to just barely cook the chicken livers -- they should just be losing their pink. This will make sure the chopped liver is creamy. Then mix in mayo, caramelized diced onions (preferably cooked in chicken fat), salt, pepper.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sbp

                Mayo??? I've never heard of that--seems sacreligious. Schmaltz is the way to go.

                1. re: Chorus Girl

                  I agree . . . schmaltz - yes (esp if it has little crunchy pieces of chicken skin mmmmmmmm), mayo - no!!

                  1. re: dkotler

                    That's what I thought too, but you have to try it. You'll plotz. And I have heard of it elsewhere -- the egg yolks add a bit more dimension than chicken fat.

              2. I know other responders stated that Jewish chopped liver is chopped chicken liver with other stuff added. That's what I always thought too. But my grandmother makes hers using beef liver. I have no idea what else goes into it because I think it's disgusting and thus haven't pursued the issue (as opposed to grandma's signature strudel which I have actually learned how to make).

                I love foie gras and don't think it tastes or smells anything like either beef or chicken liver. Monkfish liver (ankimo) is quite wonderful also but that's another subject.