As a special thank you, I wanted to share my recipe for the foie gras ganache I prepared on the Top Chef Masters finale.
When I was 21 years old, I apprenticed at Georges Blanc in Vonnas, about an hour outside of Lyon. The farmer would come twice weekly with a truck full of truffles and foie for us to use on our menu. The farmers in Vonnas are nothing like farmers here. They were real characters and had a French aesthetic, right down to their perfectly knotted scarves.
We then let the foie sit at room temperature before we cleaned it with the back of a spoon. We would then make it into a terrine.
When I came to America, I thought it was interesting that people seared their foie gras here then served it on toast with mango or fig. In Europe, you ate foie the way we served it at Georges Blanc, a terrine, or out of a can. My family ate it from the can. It wasn't the best but we loved it.
In New York, I wanted to make a signature foie gras dish. First I tried a foie gras pancake but that didn't quite work. Then I toyed with the idea of making a foie gras cake. Instead of regular flour, I used almond flour to make it sweet. Texture is everything so I baked it in high heat to make it firm outside and soft inside. I used less and less eggs every time until it came out perfect.
It took years to get the recipe right and even now, it can be a very temperamental recipe to produce.
For the finale, I made several batches because stakes were high and I wanted it to be perfect for the judges.
Note: You can prepare this recipe with duck or chicken liver; whichever is easier for you to source
Calories per serving: 150
Prep time: 1 hour 10 mins
Cooking time: 8 mins
Total time: 1 hour 18 mins
Foie Gras Ganache
1/2 lb Grade A duck foie gras
1 cup plus 2 tbsp white port
2 tbsp brandy
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup almond flour
Scant 1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
Aged balsamic vinegar
Fleur de sel
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Generously butter eight 4-ounce ramekins, dust with flour, and shake out the excess.
2. Cut 2 ounces of the foie gras into 8 equal pieces. Combine the port and brandy in a small bowl, add the pieces of foie gras, turning once or twice, and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the shallots, tarragon, and the remaining 1 cup port in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and boil gently for about 15 minutes, until the shallots are soft and all the liquid has cooked away. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Cut the remaining 6 ounces foie gras into 1/2-inch pieces. Put the butter and foie gras in the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl and heat over simmering water for 4 to 5 minutes, until the butter and most of the foie gras have melted. Turn off the heat and keep warm over the hot water.
5. Toast the almond flour and garam masala in a skillet over medium heat, stirring and shaking the pan frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant and golden brown. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
6. Puree the cooked shallots in a blender. Add the almond flour mixture and blend for 1 minute on high speed. Add the salt. With the blender on medium-low speed, gradually add the butter-foie gras mixture. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the eggs and egg yolk.
7. Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins. Drop a piece of the marinated foie gras into the center of each. Set the ramekins in a large baking pan and add enough boiling water to the pan to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
8. Bake for exactly 8 minutes, until the ganache has pulled away from the sides of each ramekin, the edges are lightly browned and look firm, the center is still jiggly when shaken, and a pool of molten foie gras ganache remains in the center - the ganache may not look done at this point, but it is; do not overcook.
9. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and wipe them dry. Gently invert onto plates, if desired. Drizzle a few drops of balsamic vinegar over each ganache, sprinkle with a few grains of fleur de sel, and serve immediately.