Roast Foie Gras ‘Benzaldehyde’, Almond Fluid Gel, Cherry, Chamomile
Specialty Equipment: vacuum machine, water bath, digital thermometer, pH meter
Specialty Ingredients: malic acid, almond essential oil, gellan F, powdered gelatin 200 Bloom
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Continuing from the previous post, I had some problems with the foie gras. Long before it was cooked it broke down, making it impossible to follow the rest of the recipe. I was not about to throw away a whole piece of foie gras, so I pressed the cooked pieces of meat together to form a terrine. I kept one piece though, cooling it in the bag, hoping I could heat it up with the last minute blowtorch action, instead of placing it in a water bath to heat through.
Before the liver turned its back one me, I divided the lobes and rolled them up in clingfilm to give it an uniform look. They were then divided and vacuum packed at full pressure before cooked in a 60°C water bath to the same temperature.
As you can see not a pleasant sight. I kept on cooking the pieces and pressed them together to make a terrine. As I mentioned earlier I kept one piece to see if I could roast it.
Next up were the amaretto jellies, made from, as you can probably guess, amaretto and powdered gelatin. My first instinct was scoring some Disaronno Amaretto, but I don’t really enjoy drinking the stuff. In dishes I like it, but I won’t sip some shot glasses of it in pure joy. For this reason I found the price a bit steep and saw a more basic looking amaretto next to it for half the price. I did what I always to with products and checked the back label. I found that they have the exact same ingredients list: alcohol, sugar, glucose syrup, aromas and coloring. I wonder if there is even one bitter almond to be found in the Disaronno factory, so without hesitation I went with the other brand. It’s a bit like the vanilla ice cream of Ben & Jerry’s. It features, predominately, a vanilla bean on the package, but when you inspect the ice cream itself there are absolutely no vanilla seeds in the mix. I can get really pissed of from these ‘we think customers are idiots and don’t give a fuck’ policies.
One of the garnishes on top of the liver, next to chives and grated almonds, are ground chamomile flowers. Some time ago I brought back beautiful chamomile flowers from Istanbul, but I gave to them my sister and she had used it up for tea. I had some chamomile flowers in the back of a cabinet, but they were not as beautiful as the ones from Turkey.
The plate is garnished with amarena cherries. I looked all over for fresh morello (more on that later) and amarena cherries, but they are impossible to get hold if (at least for me). For the amarena cherries I went with preserved amarena cherries, the ones you often get in crêpes and banana splits. I soaked them in several changes of fresh water for 24 hours to counter the high sugar level.
One of the two purees of this dish is an almond fluid gel. It is made from skimmed milk, sugar, salt, bay leaves, almonds, almond essential oil and gellan F. I have two warnings, cause I messed up my first batch. I toasted my almonds golden brown, as specified in the book, but they lost all there familiar almond aromas, they smelled nothing like almonds. I also blended the almonds and milk together with a hand-held blender, which resulted in very small pieces of almonds, making the milk brown. The almonds also soaked up the milk, because of the size of the pieces. I made a new batch and toasted the almonds not as long as before and smashed the almonds with a rolling pin and sieved out the smallest pieces of almond, which act as flour.
The ‘brown batch’.
The regular steps for making a fluid gel.
I had a long talk with the people I bought my essential oils from discussing almond essential oil. They explained it technically doesn’t exist. You have almond essence, almond extract, bitter almond essence, bitter almond extract and bitter almond essential oil, but almond essential oil does not exist. You have almond base or carrier oil, which is used as a carrier of other essential oils in beauty products. I used sweet almond oil. It doesn’t have any flavor though.
I mentioned it at the amarena cherries, morello cherries are impossible to find. For the puree I solved it by using frozen morello cherries. The problem is they are always sold with the piths removed, so I bought fresh (sweet) cherries and used those piths in the cherry puree. So in total I mixed three different types of cherries for the puree (dried cherries are the third).
Pureeing everything and pushing it through a fine sieve.
Reducing the puree. It changes color to a very deep, dark red. By the way, it smelled incredible. Absolutely mouthwatering. To boost the flavor the puree is finished with malic acid using a pH meter. I don’t own one, so I did it to taste. A warning, NEVER eat the few granules of malic acid from your fingers when adding pinch of it to something. It’s an uncontrollable reflex, but it’s like biting into thousand of lemons at the same time. Sort of an acid burn. Not pleasant.
Chopping chives and grating almonds for the foie gras garnish.
All the components.
To finish I heated the purees, blowtorched the reserved piece of foie gras, seasoned it, decorated it with chives, chamomile powder and grated almonds. For the other plates I used the foie gras terrine.
I know the foie gras looks a bit nasty. It was not as bad as it looked though.
After all the problems with the foie gras, it was not realistic to expect perfect foie gras. And it indeed wasn’t, what I got at Restaurant Ivy was much better. However all the other parts were amazing. I swore I would never use the phrase ‘it cuts through the richness’ (I really hate this sequence of words), but the cherry puree did it to the liver. The hint of bitter almond flavor in the puree complemented the amaretto jellies and foie gras perfectly. The whole dish is completely in synch. You never wonder ‘what the hell is this doing on this plate’. I always found this course looked very basic, but looks can definitely be deceiving.