If you are like me and you love foie gras, then you are sure to have some scraps of the uncooked product after you have finished cleaning it. This is especially the case when you get a lower than “B” grade of foie gras. One of my favorite things to do with foie scraps is to fold them into a terrine, the low cooking temperature prevents the fat from being rendered out, or make foie gras butter. The butter is great because of its versatility and its amazing flavor. I mean come on, its butter and foie gras! The recipe below has been adapted from the following site The Chopping Block. At the chopping block they use all foie gras, which is perfectly acceptable, but I do enjoy the flavor of the butter being substituted for half of the foie gras.
Foie Gras Shortbread
4oz Foie Gras (Chilled)
4oz Butter (Room Temperature)
1oz Balsamic Vinegar
1/8t Black Pepper (Ground)
2C AP Flour or AKI AP Flour^GF
2ea Egg Yolk
AN Flaked Salt or Sea Salt
Foie Gras Butter
- Place the foie gras and butter in a food processor and blend until smooth. This step is optional, place the butter on a sieve and press it through using a rubber spatula. This process will remove larger chunks that did not get pureed and sometimes if there are chunks of foie the fat will render out while baking and could cause the shortbread to spread into a thin mess.
If you are going to use the butter as is, I recommend using it on top of steaks and adding truffles, sea salt and black pepper. To do this, after the steps above, place the foie butter in a mixing bowl and fold in the your choice of ingredients to your liking. On a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, scoop out the foie butter and place it on the front third of the plastic, spread it the length of the plastic, side to side, leaving two inches of plastic on both sides. Then take the end of plastic nearest you and pull it over the butter and start to roll the butter along the table in the plastic. You are essentially make a log of butter, then grab the ends and lift and roll the butter on the counter to twist of both ends. Place the butter in the fridge or freezer for later use, if freezing be sure to place it in the fridge 24 hours before use.
Foie Gras Shortbread
- Place the foie gras butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar, balsamic, and black pepper. Cream until well combined.
- Add the flour to the mixing bowl and carefully mix until well combined, you will need to scrape the bowl to ensure an even mixture.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap in plastic, and place in the fridge to chill.
- After a few hours, or when ready to use, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes before rolling. Pre-heat an oven to 325°F
- Roll the dough to the desired thickness and cut to fit the dish it will be served with.
- Beat the two egg yolks then place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with the egg. Sprinkle with the sea salt or flaked salt and bake for approximately 20 minutes, may take longer in conventional ovens.
The foie gras shortbread cookies go great on Caesar salads or on their own.
Smoke (Apple wood, Hickory, Mesquite)
Mustard (Stone Ground)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Mushrooms (Morels, Mitakes)
Back to Pairings
As much as I love prosciutto, it can be a very expensive investment and once it has taken its sweet time to cure and age it should be eaten quickly, although it can be portioned and placed in the freezer to make it last longer. Since I am only making prosciutto for myself I decided to use duck breasts, they are easier to work with when beginning to cure meat and it will fit in my larder better than a full pig leg. The technique that I am about to show you came from a butcher in Portland, OR, that I learned to cure meat from by the name of Eric Finley, Chop, Butchery & Charcuterie.
For my first run of duck prosciutto I am going to use Peking duck breasts, as they are more common and cheaper. They have a decent amount of fat on the breasts and a pretty neutral duck flavor, since they are farmed and not wild. The trick to a good prosciutto is to cure and age the meat encased in fat/skin to prevent the flesh from spoiling and drying out. To ensure that the meat is fully encased in fat I am going to sew two duck breasts together by the skin. Doing this will give me a larger portion of meat to serve as well as the fat, which will absorb the flavors of the cure. I created two samples and the duck breast that was sewn together will be the first, for the second, I decided to take a different approach. I recently picked up a small amount of “Meat Glue”, or Transglutaminase/Activa (not to be confused with Activia®) from Modernistpantry.com to play and experiment with. For those that do not know what this product is you can read about it here. Instead of sewing the breast together, I “glued” them together, and after 24 hours of setting time for the glue to activate, I had conjoined duck breasts that were ready for curing.
(Franken) Duck Prosciutto
4ea Duck Breasts
1ea Leather needle
~6′ Butcher twine
2ea Pinches of Pink Salt
- Start by laying the flesh side of the two duck breasts together to determine whether the fat will be able to encase the meat. If it doesn’t, do not worry, you will just need a little warm duck fat later to rub onto the flesh. Sprinkle a pinch of pink salt onto the flesh side of each duck breast and begin to sew them together.
I tied a loop with a knot in one end that will hold the twine in place and allow me to hang the duck after it has cured.
- I made my needle out of a wooden skewer. Begin sewing the breast together, only penetrating and sewing the fat together all the way around the duck breasts.
And to think that the home economics classes I took in middle school would finally pay off.
- Once sewn together, check for any parts of flesh that might be exposed, if there are any just mix a little bit of warm duck fat with ground black pepper and rub it onto those areas.
The Cure (Recipe adapted from Eric Finley, Chop, Butchery & Charcuterie)
1.5T Juniper Berries
1T Fresh Garlic
1T Whole Black Peppercorns
2ea Bay Leaves
1ea Sewn Duck Breast
- Combine dry spices and pulse in a food processor.
- In a bowl combine all ingredients, except duck and mix well.
- Toss the duck in the cure, lay a handful of the cure onto a sheet of plastic wrap.
- Place the duck on top followed by another handful of cure.
- Wrap the duck and the cure tightly in the plastic to ensure that the breasts are completely covered in cure.
- Label, date, and apply about 10# of weight on top of the duck breast, the weight will help it cure faster. Place in the fridge and cure for seven days.
- Remove the duck from the plastic, reserving the cure, and check for firmness, it should be uniform.
- If it is still soft in some spots, which mine was, then re-apply the cure, mine will take another three to four days.
Re-applying the cure to my duck breasts and wrapping and storing for 3-4 more days.
- Once the duck has finished curing it should feel firm. For the one sample that I used meat glue on I did not apply any weight, and it was not entirely firm but it ended up more round than the one that was weighted, which turned out flat.
- I brushed off the cure and hung both prosciutto’s in the larder. I wrapped one with cheesecloth and left the other unwrapped.
- These will age anywhere from one month to three.
The duck prosciutto is finally finished and I couldn’t be happier, well unhappy with one and very happy with the other. Final results:
- The meat glued and un-pressed duck breast was unsuccessful, not because of the meat glue but because the breast where so thick it took too long for it to lose moisture being encased in fat. In the future I think this one would work better if I cured it longer, it was not quite firm enough and I should have left it in the cure for another week.
- The sewn duck breasts, that were also weighted, turned out very well. The meat was encased in a very flavorful fatty skin. There isn’t much more to say about it except, Wow! Next time I will look at using Muscovy duck breasts as they are almost three times the size.
I love the way the word “rillette” sounds, and it has turned into one of my favorite charcuterie spreads. I would call it a meat spread but that does not sound very appetizing. A rillette is a preparation done with meat that is similar to a pate, or liverwurst, minus the liver. Traditionally, it was made using pork scraps, being that pork is very fatty, it makes a smooth and creamy like spread. The pork (I have used rabbit, and duck) is salted heavily and slow cooked in lard, confit style. The pork, once fork tender, is then cooled in the fat. After it has cooled it is shredded with a fork and mixed with the pork fat to create a creamy spread. The pork is then packed into a ramekin and a thin layer of pork fat is poured on top to preserve it. When ready to serve be sure to bring it up to room temperature as it will be hard like butter if served cold. Below is a duck rillette, I made this from the sage duck confit that I had left over.
I introduced myself to rillettes when I started working at the Ranch when I had left over duck confit to use. Like most traditional charcuterie boards, the pates and spreads seem a little weird and sometimes unappealing; my goal is to change that and produce items in the traditional manner, with a little twist to make them better and more appealing. Charcuterie boards are the best way to use the little duck confit that you have left from dinner the other night, or the livers left from the chicken you roasted. Every whole bird that you get will come with the gizzards and organs, so why not use them. A rillette, in my opinion, is the easiest to make and it does not contain liver, if you are not a fan of it.
Sage Duck Rillette
2#4oz Duck Confit (Cleaned from the bone)
~1# Duck Fat
12oz Duck Jelly
2.5T Fines Herbes
TT Salt and Pepper
- The duck fat and jelly should be left from making duck confit, the jelly is not as important but it adds a lot of flavor.
- With a fork, shred the duck with the chopped herbs. You can also do this process in a kitchen aid with a paddle or a food processor by pulsing.
- Heat the duck jelly and fat, separately, just enough to make them fluid.
- Add the duck fat and jelly and continue to mix. You are looking for a smooth creamy mixture. If it looks dry, add a little more duck fat.
- Season with brandy, salt and pepper. The amount of brandy is up to you and how much you want it to stand out.
- Pack the rillette into ramekins and cover with a layer thin layer of warm duck fat.
- Place the rillettes in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.
- Remove the rillettes from the fridge a couple of hours before serving for the best results.
Rillette packed into ramekins.
Warm duck fat poured over the top of the rillette.
After the Duck fat has set and preserved the rillette.
I recently made a kumquat marmalade that would go very well with this on a warm piece of bread. Here is the charcuterie plate I did with the rillette.