Seared Foie Gras

Foie Gras is without a doubt one of my favorite foods. The first time I had Foie Gras was at this little French Bistro in Chicago called The Red Rooster. Located on the corner of Halsted and Armitage in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, The Red Rooster was steps away from legendary Charlie Trotter’s and Alinea. The quaint bistro has since closed, but I have fond memories that my taste buds thank me for! 

Perfectly seared Foie Gras should be crisp and well brown, and seared to a medium well. The texture is smooth and almost custard like. A common pairing for Foie Gras are figs. Their sweet jammy quality cuts through the richness, and provides a mouthwatering sensation. Any fruit compote is delicious. I used my homemade strawberry vanilla jam. 

Foie gras is grown on only three farms in the United States. American Foie Gras ducks are amongst the most well-treated farm animals in the country. Choose grade “A” lobes from Bella Bella Gourmet, who sells Foie produced by La Belle Farms, a small-scale poultry farm in Ferndale, New York. 

There is no technical reason to score your Foie Gras. Unlike Duck skin, Foie Gras will not curl when heated up. Most Chefs score their Foie Gras for appearance. 

Make sure your pan is sizzling before you add your piece of Foie. It is normal for smoke to appear as soon as you add your Foie to the pan. Each side of Foie Gras should take no more than 30 seconds to cook. 

Don’t forget to let it rest. 

#athomesoigne 

French Style Pavóchon!

Holiday Traditions are such a joyful pleasure. For those lucky to have traditions centered around a dinner table; eat, drink and be merry becomes an annual lifestyle!

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, was the busiest day of the year in the gastronomic world. It also traditionally signifies the beginning of the Christmas season.  Ding, Dong Merrily on High!

My brother Jason is quite the at home Chef. With my sister in law Beth at his side to deck their dinner table – (not to mention their home), the duo has certainly Mastered the Art of Living. The Crye family Black Friday Pavóchon is a tradition worth noting. My brother has  adepted his Pavóchon based off a Stephane Reynard recipe: Dinde Farcie de Bonnes Choses.

11 pound, deboned Turkey

3.5 ounces of bacon

3.5 ounces of pork belly

14 ounces pork loin

5 ounces chestnuts

6 cloves of garlic

3 shallots

1 cup heavy cream

half cup pistachios

2.5 Tablespoons Armagnac

half cup of white port

Olive Oil for sautéing, salt and pepper to taste

Peel, dice  the shallots and garlic, and sauté in olive oil.

Chop all the meat. Crush the nuts. Combine with cream, Armagnac, Port, garlic and shallots.

Spoon the stuffing into the Turkey cavity. Close it up with string. Oil the turkey and season.

Roastin a 235 degree oven for 3-4 hours, basting regularly.

#athomesoigné

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Virginia is for wine lovers

Just before Christmas in 1784, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend and wine contact John Bonfield, The American Council in Bordeaux. He expressed a fear. He wrote to his friend, “I have written a letter to Monsieur d’Yquem for 250 bottles of his newest vintage, but I am afraid he will not know who I am.” Mr. Bonfield in favor wrote to Monsieur d’Yquem introducing Thomas Jefferson, Minister of The United States of America. By February of 1785, Jefferson had received his 250 bottles which were described as “bottled with greatest care” in a letter signed by Count Louis-Amédée Lur Saluce, the newest proprietor of what Jefferson referred to as “House of Yquem.”

Thomas Jefferson’s introduction into the circles of French society was welcomed. They viewed him as “warming to intelligent conversation” and found his colonist lifestyle intriguing. His greatest friends included French liberals such as the Duke of Rochefoucauld, the Marquis de Chastellux, and General Lafayette. Through these influences and eventual life long friends, Jefferson discovered that fine wine and fine food is a great way to meet informally with political friends and foes. He approached gastronomy as a gentile art, and encouraged the newly American citizens to embrace it as a refined accompaniment for everyday life. During his time as president, Jefferson frequently used dinner parties as a form of legislative lobbying.

The success of Virginia viticulture was one of Jefferson’s greatest ambitions. He saw a vision in a state of breathtaking views, majestic mountain ranges, favorable climate, and diverse soils. “The best Virginia soil from an agricultural point of view is clay soil.” Exclaims Gabriele Rausse, the dubbed Godfather of Virginia wine and Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson’s beloved home of Monticello. “As the Virginia wine industry started to take off people started to experiment with areas which were not clay.” Says Rausse. “Virginia also has a lot of loamy soil.”

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Virginia has a topography which compares very much to the Friuli region in Italy, and now produces quality wine as well. Though Jefferson’s predictions of Virginia wine were seen as over enthusiastic, now 200 years later Gabriele Rausse along with other Virginia winemakers have turned Jefferson’s vision a reality!

Autuman in Alsace

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West of the Vosges mountain range and bordering east of the Rhine river is Alsace. A true gourmand delight. Its rich soils and long warm summers are ideal for slowly, ripening grapes that produce delicious cool climate wines; arguably some of the best in France.

(Yes, I said it).

Though one of the smallest wine growing regions in France, Alsace is most known for Vendange Tardive, or late harvest. Lucky for us, we get to enjoy these luscious liquids just in time for our favorite Autumn recipes!

Binner Negoce Pinot Noir 2012 is Natural, Biodynamic and is great evidence that natural wines can age and age well. Open your mind to blackberry and boysenberry aromatics with a smoky mesquite finish.

Reminiscent of bon fires and hay rides, it is aged for 11 months in 100 year old oak barrels and is certified organic, biodynamic with no added sulfites.

Binner has been around since 1770 and has holdings in two of the most valuable growing areas in Alsace. 40% of their vines are over 60 and many are reaching 100 years old. The grapes are hand harvested in early to mid October, and yield fully ripen fruit.

This wine is best enjoyed decanted. Decant and it will open itself up to a Burgundian style Pinot Noir. I promise you’ll like it.