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I'm scared to try foie gras

OK. I'll admit it. I've never had foie gras. I think it's because I hate hate hate liver. Having said that, the only way I've ever had it is pan-fried by my mom when I was a kid. My dad is Irish, so of course he loves fried liver and onions, but I cannot get past the memory of being force fed it in my childhood.

Having said all this, I love liver pate. My dad and I will fight over it at Christmas when it's put out for nibblies before dinner.

So....do you think I'll like foie gras? Is there a particular way I should try it for my first tasting experience? Please advise; I hear all these raves about it, but I'm being such a chicken!

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  1. I have to admit I got a chuckle out of your description of being "force fed" in a post about foie gras! At least you called yourself "chicken" instead of "silly goose" - but I digress.

    Fresh foie gras, which is what I assume you're asking about, really doesn't taste particularly liverish, so just don't be concerned about that and give it a try. The flavor is luscious, but not strong, so even if you end up not liking it I doubt you'll find the experience objectionable. So you can really get a good sense of the taste, I'd recommend a simple pan-seared slice, perhaps on a bit of plain white toast to soak up a bit of the delicious oil that melts out of it.

    1. Fly Fish is right to suggest a pan-seared version as your first try. It can taste more strongly (maybe not more livery) cold or partialy raw as in an 'au torchon' preparation. My first experience with foie gras was as 'au torchon' and I found it a little hard to take and had to have it pan-seared before I learned to absolutely love the stuff. Ironically, now I prefer a good au torchon over the seared. I'm still remebering the last time I had foie gras. It was the Modern restuarant at MOMA which made a very, very nice 'au torchon'. Mind you, I have some foie in fridge right now and I plan to sear it and have it on a bagguette cruton in a light duck broth with raspberry and shallot.

      I've been thinking of how best to describe foie and it is really hard to do. But, I think if you can imagine cutting that liver pate from christmas with about fifty-percent butter yet not losing the richness, that's sort of what good foie gras tastes like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Atahualpa

        I've had fois gras in pate and also as a seared slice. Not bitter in my experience, sweet buttery, the seared fois gras reminded me most of bone marrow.

      2. We were at some friends a few months ago and knew we would have foie gras. Neither SO nor I had had it before and we both were a little stressed that we would not like it (as we don't like liver). Well... there is a world of differences between both! We both absolutely loved foie gras and can't wait to have it again. It is like velvet melting in your mouth, with an extremely faint livery taste (somewhat similar to pâté, just much more delicate tasting). Yum!

        1. Don't fear the Foie! Submit to peer pressure!

          I'm thinking a beginner would prefer a smoother variety to a "country pate"

          Next, you'll have to try Haggis!

          1. If you can eat, much less like, liver pate, you can eat foie gras no problem.

            Between the flavor and texture, I don't like foie gras enough to pay for it, but I don't mind it. On the other hand, I'd have to be awfully hungry force down chopped liver or liver pate, and close to starving to eat something like fried liver.

            1. PS: Country pate is really altogether different. You can gussy it up no end, but it's basically a highly seasoned meatloaf, usually with some liver but rarely enough to put off even a liver-loather like me - it's the only pate I'll actually seek out in fact.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MikeG

                ITA. Love country pate. That said, I hate liver (even good chopped liver) and while I have had some great foie gras in France, I can't say I love it. It's just a little too heavy for me.

              2. from a non-foie gras lover here - try it, it won't kill you. i must confess that i don't like liver, pate, organ meats of any kind whatsover. heck, i don't like chicken with skin on it. what can i say? i try things, i don't like them, i don't try them again for another 4 or 5 years. i have tried foie gras on several occasions and while i'm not disgusted by the flavor or texture, it's simply too rich for me in anything other than very small doses. but then i find short ribs too rich to eat in anything other than small doses so what do i know?

                1. I hate hate hate liver too, but love foie gras. Try it cooked (I'm looking for the exact word in English....in french it's poêlé) with some sort of confit fruit and a Sauternes...Should start your love affair with foie gras, as it did for me!

                  1. An idea: For your first tasting experience, why not come to Montreal to rest. Au Pied de Cochon, where foie gras is a specialty. Most recent discussion here:
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: morebubbles

                      Oh my gosh! This is why I wrote the post. I'm going to Montreal on Thanksgiving weekend with my SO and I've been researching restaurants and decided I want to go to Au Pied de Cochon. That got me thinking that it's high time I try foie gras and this might be the place to do it!

                      You guys have convinced me. I'm trying it. I was afraid it would be over liver-ish tasting but since you all say it's not, I'm going for it.

                      Thank you all so much for your encouragement.

                      1. re: christinea

                        YAY! Great! I'm confident you'll enjoy your foie gras experience. Enjoy your stay in Montreal during Thanksgiving, coming up soon! :) It'll be fun if you update us after your tasting.

                        1. re: christinea

                          Confirmed liver haters love foie gras. You will love Montreal and foie gras. I have fed it to confirmed liver haters (and cont me in with them) and made addicts of them. We used to live across the border in NY state and Montreal was about an hours drive. It was our tradition to go on Thanksgiving day 'cause neither of us was crazy about turkey. We'd go to a big splurge place for lunch and have dinner in Chinatown before going home. Chinatown has a bunch of good Vietnamese places now.

                          1. re: Candy

                            Some liver haters love foie gras. Some don't.

                            If I suffered from liver hate, I'd figure out whether foie gras was an exception before committing to a foie gras blowout.

                          2. re: christinea

                            I was the same way before I first tried it. I gag at just the smell of liver and onions. Beef liver, calves liver, pork liver -- they are a whole different animal than foie gras.

                        2. I tried it seared first, but didn't like it nearly as much as just plain over a salad -- you take a little bit on crusty bread, don't smoosh it in, and it eat that way. My eyes were opened. Then, it's like meat butter! What's not to like; there's meat, good; butter; good -- foie gras; really, really good. It's like the best, smoothest, tastiest pate you've ever tried.

                          1. Think of pan-seared foie gras as the apotheosis of butter. No, it obviously isn't made from milk, but it is so meltingly tender and so incredibly flavorful that you won't even think of it in the same category as liver.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jillp

                              You took the words right out of my fingers....

                            2. Foie gras makes my mouth happy! It has a soft, creaminess unlike anything you've ever tasted. Seared foie gras is amazing! But my favorite is a prepared foie gras mousse with sauternes and aspic on toast points!! Mmmm. I've known people who don't like liver at all to love foie gras, and then I've known people who love liver to love foie gras. I'm sure there are people out there who can't stand it, but I think that there is something wrong with them.

                              1. If you ever like liver, or anything with liver in it, you'll probably like foie gras.

                                If you hate liver, foie gras might be an exception, but I wouldn't bet on it.

                                1. To my taste, there's a huge difference between mammal liver and bird liver. Sounds to me like your past experience is with the former. I'm not fond of mammal liver, but I love foie gras and other bird livers.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                    Rabbit liver is probably the mildest, sweetest liver of all. It's a mammal.

                                    1. re: Karl S

                                      True, rabbit liver is delicious. I was definitely thinking of larger mammals. Interestingly enough, the USDA classifies rabbits as poultry under their slaughtering regulations.

                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                        Yes, I am aware that rabbit is often classed with poultry. I would love to have some rabbit eggs :-)P

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            You'll just to have to wait for Easter, won't you?

                                    2. Explain the preparation of it some more. I'm not afraid of it, I just don't have the means to go have it made at a nice restaurant. Is it raw/rare inside? Salmonella is not a concern?How dark is the sear? what temp? Can the same be done with a chicken liver or turkey liver?

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: amkirkland

                                        Foie gras is usually precooked and cryovac'd by the producer before being shippped to the retailer / restaurant.

                                        If not, then it would be cooked first, then sliced and seared.

                                        I've had raw foie gras in France, interesting to try once but it's way better cooked.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Umm, no if a restaurant is serving foie, it is delivered raw, cryovac'd. Before serving, you have to soften it a bit, devein it, then portion it for searing or prepare it for poaching. I have never heard of a restaurant serving precooked foie, unless they are serving pate which is purchased from a place like d'artagnan.

                                          1. re: laguera

                                            My mistake. The texture always seemed cooked to me. Nothing like any other kind of liver, that's for sure. More like cold butter. Which I guess reflects the fat content.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              It is kind of like butter, actually. It is very slippery when it is cold, then it gets really mushy like butter after it sits at room temp for a while. That's why it tastes so good!

                                              1. re: laguera

                                                I think it is just a matter of different ways of preparation - I love, and have made, terrine de foie gras - which has a very spreadable buttery texture, but I hate seared foie gras.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  We were discussing the texture of raw foie gras.

                                                  1. re: laguera

                                                    Oops - my mistake - I got confused!

                                      2. I'm not a big beef liver fan myself, but I absolutely love foie gras. If you enjoy liver pate, you might like a cold preparation such as a torchon. The descriptions above about seared foie gras are right on the money--there is nothing as melt in the mouth delicious as a properly seared piece of foie gras. I've also had overcooked foie gras that does remind me of cooked beef liver (nothing melt in the mouth about it).

                                        1. Piggy-backing on this thread a little, the only time I've ever had foie gras it was incredibly salty. Is that typical or was it badly prepared?

                                          3 Replies
                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Not typical. It is not salty on its own. However, it is often served quite salty with the expectation that your going to eat it on a cruton or with a simple frisee salad etc. . .

                                              1. re: Atahualpa

                                                I think I'm predisposed to dislike foie gras because it's been served to me on frisee, which I absolutely hate.

                                          1. Personally, I think Foie Gras is over-used, and not everyone does it right, which would probably explain your saltiness. Like Tuna tartar, it needs to be retired! And at the rate things are going, it may well be.

                                            TT

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: TexasToast

                                              You'll have to pry my foie gras poutine from my cold, dead hands.

                                            2. Don't feel compelled to like it. I've never had a preparation of foie gras that I would order a second time. I just want to have a nibble of it every few years to make sure I still don't really want more than that. (Probably the most interesting was a pairing of a thinly sliced, lightly seared preparation served atop a lean "filet" of buffalo.)

                                              By way of background, I detest beef and chicken liver, too.

                                              1. Good for you for trying something new! There are lots of rewards for pushing past those familiar foods.

                                                That said, I hate foie gras. You will probably like it -- most people do -- but for me, it's still liver and no amount of fabulous preparation or sauternes can disguise that liver taste.

                                                Other people are usually happy to have my portion :)

                                                1. Welcome to the wonderful world of foie gras. If your afraid try the following:

                                                  Foie loves apple, pear or a sweet fruit to accompany and compliment. I agree to sear in a hot skillet with S&P. Then try a little apple sauce with your first bite. This will get you comfortable with the texture and flavor and the apple sauce will keep your comfort zone. Slowly wean yourself off the apple sauce and have a nice glass of sauterne available. Take a bite of the foie and "rince" our tongue with the sauterne.

                                                  UNBELIEVABLE!!!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    I just had some today with sauterne. It was like eating a slab of sweet butter!

                                                    TT

                                                  2. Only way I don't like it is poached - texture is too 'blubbery' in a lighter kind of way. I admit, I've only tried it poached once & am too afraid to try again - luckily most restaurants serve it seared, which thrills me no end!

                                                    1. I have tasted foie gras once and loved it....so much that I bought my husband a jar of Whole Goose Foie Gras in Aspic with portwine.....hoping that we would have some out there dinner party....it has been in the fridge for nearly 6 months ( expirey date is closing in)....we have both been too afraid to crack it open as we really want to pay homage (at $125.00 for 180gm it is more like something to pass down to the kids, but we dont have any so we really need to eat this !!!!!)
                                                      I first tasted it in a rabbit terrine but for all my searching I cannot find a recipe or method that convinces me to crack the seal on our 'special jar'
                                                      I would like to incorporate it in a terrine, so if there are any recipe links or suggestions i would love to hear of them