The most prized and, perhaps, the most famous ingredient for pâtés and terrines in classical cuisine is foie gras (fwah grah).This French term means "fat liver." Foie gras is the fatted liver of specially fed varieties of ducks and geese. Until recently, only canned or processed foie gras products were available in the United States. Now, however, the breed of duck that is raised to produce foie gras (called the mullard or moulard, a cross between the muscovy and white pekin ducks) is grown on American farms. Consequently, fresh, raw duck foie gras is now sold in this country. Its availability has created a great deal of enthusiasm among American cooks in spite of its high price.
The special feeding of the ducks makes the livers very large,more than 1 lb (500 g) as a rule, with a high fat content. A good-quality fresh foie gras is a pale yellowish-tan color with a smooth, velvety texture, almost the feel of butter.The liver has two lobes, one large and one small.
It is important to be aware that foie gras consists mostly of fat. Indeed, the rich flavor of the fat is the whole reason that foie gras is so highly prized. Any fat that cooks out during preparation is carefully saved and used for another purpose.Those who must avoid fats, especially animal fats, should probably steer clear of this delicacy. For the rest of us, the high price of foie gras helps protect our health by making overindulgence unlikely.
There are usually two grades of domestic duck foie gras.The A grade is larger, usually 1/4 lb (600 g) or more,with relatively few blemishes and blood spots.The B grade is smaller and has more blood spots and veins.
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