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«FOIE GRAS» which literally translates to «FAT LIVER» is a culinary delicacy made from the liver of a duck or goose, that has been fattened through force-feeding. This technique has existed from Ancient Egyptian times to Roman times but is most often and customarily considered to be a symbol of Southern France’s and Northern Spain’s traditional cuisine, especially during the winter holiday feasts.

While mostly produced and consumed in France, «foie gras» has been banned in some parts of the world.

Food isn’t always easy : there are forbidden foods and taboos, cultural and personal food preferences and choices (sometimes physiological and otherwise ideological), questionable production methods and techniques (whether ancestral or modern), health and safety issues, and of course, more and more of today which I’m glad to see : the issues of animal protection and/or animal welfare.

It isn’t easy to post a recipe that will inevitably offend some of my readers but I’ll explain my point of view.

Eating things that were once alive cannot ever and should never be an insignificant thing. One should not transform nor perceive food consumption and eating habits as some pre-packaged and sanitized harmless abstraction. Food is the result of a sacrifice, sometimes necessary but most often optional. Be grateful for the loss that your gain represents.

There are more ‘humane’ (less cruel) methods for making «foie gras», especially in certain parts of southern France and northern Spain where many farmers have adopted and/or converted their intensive force-feeding practices into gentler and more responsible techniques. These farmers tend to sell «ethically-produced» foie gras, usually smaller in size and sometimes even organic. Products from small farms will always be a better choice and more ethical and fairer than those in a supermarket and if not, then at least ask your butcher about purchasing a less cruelly-produced raw and hopefully de-veined ‘foie gras’ duck or goose liver. I know it’s not often that we eat foie gras so a little extra effort once or twice a year isn’t much to ask.

*back to the recipe & techniques :

3 main methods are used to make foie gras at home for the holidays meals (after the initial preparation and flavorings)

a. oven cooked in a covered ceramic terrine, half immersed in a water bath

b. wrapped up in plastic film and steamed in a long tubular shape,

c. wrapped up in gauze and cured for several days in a salt mixture.


I’ve tried all 3.

a. is relatively quick, less fatty, somewhat drier and more crumbly.

b. takes slightly longer to do than (a), results in a simpler thick sausage shape for eveny-shaped and round slices for serving

c. my personal favorite, no heat nor cooking, a slower process for a more delicate, buttery, smoother result but requires 5-6 days resting period.


Traditionally, foie gras is served slightly cooler than room temperature, with toasted thin slices of bread, usually brioche or gingerbread and accompanied with a heavy and a slightly chilled, fruity, very sweet and stronger wine called « sauternes » (like an ice wine), and sometimes a little spoonful of fig jam/confit on the side.

Anyways, my « foie gras mi-cuit » version (which means ‘partly-cooked’ because it’s salt-cured) was designed in such a way that the spiciness and sweetness usually provided by the accompaniments of the sweet wine and breads and fruits is actually incorporated in the foie gras because I prefer the accompanying drink to be something bubbly and lighter (such as champagne or cider) and a more rustic dried fruits & nuts bread to spread it on (see recipe here), with no other extras please !

You’ll have to give the recipe a try to better understand why . . .  ;)

holiday-spiced & salt-cured foie gras




  • 500 grams de-veined raw ‘foie gras’ (1 ‘extra’ quality whole fattened duck liver)

basting paste :

  • 15 ml (3 tsp) cognac or armagnac (add 1 extra tsp if necessary to make a thin paste)
  • 7,5 grams (1½ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 3,75 grams (1 tsp) brown sugar (slightly packed)
  • 3,75 grams (1¾ tsp) spice mix (see below) :
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) ground pink peppercorns
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) ground allspice powder
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) finely grated orange zest
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) ground cinnamon powder
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) ground cloves powder
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) ground ginger powder
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) ground nutmeg powder
  • 0,25 grams (1/8 tsp) ground black peppercorns

salt & sugar curing mix :

  • 750 grams (3 cups) coarse sea salt
  • 250 grams (1 cup) golden granulated cane sugar
  • optional : 1 gram (¼ tsp) pink curing salt (for food safety)


  • start off with a de-veined whole fattened raw duck liver (which is easier & less messy than doing it yourself)
  • prepare the basting paste by combining the spice mix, salt, brown sugar and cognac
  • brush the basting paste all over the duck liver, then wrap up tightly in plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours minimum (or up to 36 hours maximum)
  • after 24-36 hours, remove the basted duck liver from the refrigerator, remove the plastic film and tightly wrap in sterile gauze or 2 layers of cheesecloth (or enough so that there is no exposed area that will come in direct contact with the salt and sugar)
  • prepare the sugar and salt curing mix (the pink curing salt which has nitrates in it is optional but will help ensure food safety and prevent any issues with bacteria if you want to conserve the foie gras for over 1 week)
  • place a thick layer of curing mix (about 1/3 of the total) on the bottom (about 2 cm) of a container, then place the wrapped duck liver on top and add the remaining 2/3 of the curing mix on top and on the sides and loosely cover the container (do not seal hermetically)
  • let sit in the refrigerator at 5°C for at least 48 hours or up to 72 hours maximum if it is well wrapped (this will draw out excess water from the duck liver and make it firmer, slightly saltier and slightly lighter in weight)
  • remove the wrapped duck liver from the curing mix, gently remove the sterile gauze or cheesecloth and wrap again in plastic film and reserve in the refrigerator again for 24 hours minimum or 72 hours maximum until ready to serve
  • remove the foie gras from the refrigerator 45-60 minutes before serving in slices accompanied ideally by a dried fuit & nuts bread (see recipe here).

note : usually, a salt-cured foie-gras (as opposed to a cooked one) is meant to be eaten quickly after it is ready or a maxiumum of 2-3 days after it is ready, using the pink curing salt prolongs its expiry date by at least 1 additional week, but is not necessary if eaten over the first 2-3 days when ready ...