FOIE GRAS: signifies literally and actually "fat liver"—but it is applied particu larly to the livers of fat geese. Those of fat ducks are similarly employed but the product is considered inferior and retails at lower prices.
One of the most famous industries of Strasburg, Germany, and Toulouse, France, is the scientific fattening of geese for the enlargement of their livers. The birds are kept in special coops which prevent their taking exercise and are fed to the limit of their capacities. Their health is, however, carefully watched and the treatment is temporarily suspended in the case of any bird which shows even the slightest symptoms of sickening.
Foie gras is imported in jars or tins in four forms—Foie Gras au Naturel, Pate de Foie Gras, Puree de Foie Gras and Saucisson de Foie Gras.
Foie Gras au Naturel consists of full livers, plain cooked, put up in tins of several sizes. It is intended for use in the preparation of aspics, etc.
Pate de Foie Gras, the principal form, was invented at Strasburg toward the end of the eighteenth century by Clausse, then chef of the Governor of Alsace. The cooked livers, seasoned with wine, aromatics, etc., and with cut truffles added, are filled into earthenware "terrines" for Terrine de Foie Gras, or pastry shells or crusts for Pate de Foie Gras en croate, and surrounded and covered with a forcemeat made of liver trim mings and pork. In the best grades the livers are whole ; the lesser qualities are of cut pieces. The terrines are made in two styles—the "flat," called "casseroles," generally light yellow in color, and the "high," brownish-red in hue—both styles in various sizes holding one-eighth, one-quarter, one-half and one pound. The Pate is also sometimes packed in jars of elaborate richness of appearance.
A good Pate when opened should have, covering the other contents, a quantity of white or yellowish fat, rendered from the liver itself during the cooking, and should give out an appetizing odor. If the liver appears dry and bare of grease and gives out an unpleasant odor, the jar should be returned to the seller to be exchanged for another. This condition may be found occasionally, no matter what care has been exercised in putting up the product.
Only Pate de Foie Gras made in the country or district in which the geese are reared and fattened is really worthy of the name, as a first-class product can only be made from fresh livers. A Pate made from preserved livers is never as rich because the liver necessarily suffers by the second cooking.
Pate de Foie Gras should always be served very cold—only in that condition is the full fine flavor obtainable. It is best to set it on ice for several hours before serving. If ice is not obtainable, the terrine should be submerged in the coldest water obtainable and kept there as long as possible. This precaution is naturally most important in summer and in warm countries.
Puree de Foie Gras is made of whole livers and liver trimmings with some pork added, well seasoned and cooked and then pressed through a fine sieve. Small pieces of truffle are added and the paste is then canned like other potted meats.
Saueisson (sausage) de Foie Gras, put up in cans of cylindrical shape, consists of the liver cut in small pieces, pistachio nuts and pieces of truffle, etc., added, the whole mixed with liver trimmings and pork, then forced into casings and cooked.