Foie gras (pronounced /fwɑːˈgrɑː/ in English; French for "fat liver") is "the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by gavage (as defined by French law). Pâté de foie gras is the most famous dish prepared from it.
Foie gras is one of the most popular and well-known delicacies in French cuisine and its flavour is rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of a regular duck or goose liver. Foie gras can be sold whole, or prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté. It is an important component of the dish Tournedos Rossini and many other haute cuisine dishes.
Forms of foie gras
In France, foie gras exists in different, legally-defined forms, from the expensive to the less so:
- foie gras entier (whole foie gras), made of one or two whole liver lobes; either cooked (cuit), semi-cooked (mi-cuit), or fresh (frais);
- foie gras, made of pieces of livers reassembled together;
- bloc de foie gras, a fully-cooked, moulded block composed of 98% or more foie gras; if termed avec morceaux ("with pieces"), it must contain at least 50% foie gras pieces for goose, and 30% for duck.
Additionally, there exist pâté de foie gras; mousse de foie gras (both must contain 50% or more foie gras); parfait de foie gras (must contain 75% or more foie gras); and other preparations (no legal obligation established).
Fully cooked preparations are generally sold in either glass containers or metal cans for long-term preservation. Whole, fresh foie gras is usually unavailable in France, except in some producers' markets in the producing regions. Frozen whole foie gras is sometimes sold in French supermarkets.
Whole foie gras is readily available from gourmet retailers in Quebec, the United States, Hungary, Australia, Argentina and regions with a sizeable market for the product. In US, raw foie gras is classified as Grade A, B or C, with Grade A typically being the best for searing.
The production of fois gras is controversial and frequently considered cruel.