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What is foie gras?

Foie gras is the French word for "fat liver". The French law has defined foie gras as "the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by gavage".

Foie gras, with its rich, buttery, and delicate flavor, is one of the greatest delicacies in French cuisine. Foie gras can be sold whole, or prepared into pâté, mousse, or parfait, and is typically served as an accompaniment to another comestible, such as toast or steak.

In France, foie gras, exists in different, legally-defined presentations, from the expensive to the cheap:
1) foie gras entier (entire foie gras), made of one or two whole liver lobes; either cooked (cuit), semi-cooked (mi-cuit), or fresh (frais);
2) foie gras, made of pieces of livers reassembled together;
3) bloc de foie gras, a fully-cooked, molded block composed of 98% or more foie gras; if termed avec morceaux ("with pieces"), it must contain at least 50% foie gras pieces for goose, and 30% for duck.

Additionally, there exist pâté de foie gras; mousse de foie gras (both must contain 50% or more foie gras); parfait de foie gras (must contain 75% or more foie gras); and other preparations (no legal obligation established).

Fully cooked preparations are generally sold in either glass containers or metal cans for long-term preservation. Whole, fresh foie gras is usually unavailable, except in some producers' markets in the producing regions. Frozen whole foie gras sometimes is sold in French supermarkets.

Generally, French preparations of foie gras are over low heat (terrine), as too much fat melts from the traditional goose foie gras. The American palate, used to the more accessible duck foie gras, has more recipes and dish preparations for serving that foie gras hot, rather than cool or cold. The recent (in French culinary tradition) introduction of duck foie gras has resulted in some recipes returning to France from America. In Hungary, goose foie gras traditionally is fried in goose fat, which is then poured over the foie gras and left to cool. It also is eaten warm, after being fried or roasted, with some chefs smoking the foie gras over a cherry wood fire. In other parts of the world foie gras is served in exotic dishes such as foie gras sushi or alongside steak tartare.

Foie gras may be flavored with truffles or liquors such as armagnac. It is commonly served accompanied with crusty or toasted bread. It is often served with a dessert wine such as Sauternes, as the rich, sweet flavours go well together; classic wine and food matching; some diners prefer it with a dry white wine, such as those from Alsace; accompaniments may include onion jam.


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