Foie Gras is a popular delicacy from France. It is made of liver fattened and often baked in a crust, and served as a pate, either hot or cold. Making foie gras is usually a concern for animal rights activists since it force-feeds geese or ducks. But did you know foie gras can be made without force-feeding these birds?
A Spanish farm discovered a way to make foie gras without force-feeding geese. It allows wild geese to eat fallen acorns and olives with high-fat content. The geese developed enlarged livers on their own.
What is Foie Gras?
Foie Gras is a delicacy that traces its origins in French cuisine but has been known to be around since the time of Ancient Egyptians. The term literally translates to the fat liver. This is because the liver of a duck or goose has been enlarged through a unique feeding technique. Foie gras is considered one of the world’s most sumptuous dishes.
Foie Gras takes many forms. It can be served as a pate, as a mousse, as a hot entree, or simply the main ingredient. It is very fatty but has a vibrant buttery flavor and a smooth texture. Foie gras is cooked using traditional methods. It can be simply seared whole in a hot pan.
Another way to prepare it is by putting pieces of the liver layered on a loaf pan along with sauternes or Armagnac, molding it, baking, chilling, and then slicing. Oftentimes, foie gras is made into a mousse. The cooked liver is pureed in a food processor with brandy and butter to turn it into a smooth and silky paste that can be spread into bread.
It tastes beefy and rich and buttery. Goose foie gras, in particular, is considered more refined with a milder flavor. Duck foie gras, on the other hand, can have a somewhat gamey taste. There are three grades for foie gras, A, B, and C. A is considered the best quality. It is large in size, firm, shiny and smooth. The color is consistent, and there are no blood spots or blemishes.
Grade B has the same rich taste as Grade A but is smaller in size and may come with visible veining and defects, it is also softer. While Grade C is the lowest quality and is often used to flavor and thicken sauces. (Source: The Spruce Eats)
How is Foie Gras Made?
Developing foie gras is usually frowned upon by animal rights groups. The usual process of developing foie gras is with workers ramming feeding pipes down the throats of male ducks or geese to force-feed them twice a day. They usually pump 2.2 pounds of grain and fat into the ducks’ stomachs. Sometimes the birds are fed up to three times a day and with four pounds of grain. This process is called gavage.
Since only liver coming from male ducks is used to make foie gras, female ducks are used for fertilizer or duck food. Which is another issue that concerns the animal rights groups, along with their claim that force-feeding ducks is a form of animal cruelty. (Source: PETA)
Foie Gras without Force Feeding
Since force-feeding is deemed cruel for animals, many people have tried finding ways to develop foie gras without using the gavage process. In 2013, Spaniards Sousa and Labourdette discovered and marketed an ethical and sustainable way of making foie gras.
The two have a farm in Spain that accommodates thousands of wild geese. Interestingly, their farm also grows acorns and olives in their fields. Their farm is also situated in a region that is a natural area for geese to stop over as they migrate during the change of seasons.
The duo observed that the geese eat up olives and acorns on their own, eating as much as they can in preparation for the long flight they would endure as they migrate for the season. However, the geese no longer leave their farm, adapting to their new habitat and eating olives and acorns, which are coincidentally rich in fat. (Source: NPR)