Seared Foie Gras with Poached Quince, Tangerine, and Pomegranate Juice
This elegant dish combines an exotic trio of ingredients -- foie gras, quince, and pomegranate. The richness of the foie gras is complemented by the sweet, tangy fruits. An extravagant delicacy that goes back to Roman times, foie gras is the enlarged liver of a force-fed goose or duck. Duck foie gras has a winey flavor, while goose foie gras is slightly richer and more mellow. Both should be firm to the touch. Look for quinces, bitter fruit that turn sweet with cooking, that are yellow -- a sign of ripeness.
For the Quince
- 3 medium-ripe yellow quinces, about 1 1/2 pounds
- 2 tangerines, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
- Peel of 1 tangerine
- 1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 inch long
- 2 to 3 whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup sugar
For the Pomegranate Juice
- 1 large red pomegranate
- 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
For the Foie Gras
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh foie gras, well-chilled
- Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh chervil
- 1 tablespoon reserved pomegranate seeds
To make the quince: Slice ends from quince, and peel (a vegetable peeler works well). Cut in half, lengthwise. Remove the tough core, using a Parisian scoop (or a small paring knife). Then cut quince lengthwise into 1-inch-thick wedges. Place in a medium-size nonreactive saucepan, and add the remaining ingredients, plus 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cool until quince is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove quince slices and tangerine peel with a slotted spoon. Strain poaching liquid and discard aromatics. Julienne tangerine peel, and return it, along with quince, to poaching liquid. Keep warm. If preparing in advance, let cool in poaching liquid. Cover, and refrigerate.
To make the pomegranate juice: Cut pomegranate in half, and juice just as you would a citrus fruit. In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until slightly thickened. Set aside.
To make the foie gras: Separate the two lobes of the foie gras, and cut away any excess fat found at the point of separation. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife (dipped in hot water), cut foie gras crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Score one side of each slice of foie gras in a crosshatch pattern. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Remove foie gras slices from refrigerator 15 minutes before sauteing. Warm quince over medium heat if necessary. Heat a 12-inch saucepan over medium-high heat. Season foie gras with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Working quickly, sear foie gras slices, crosshatched side down, in batches, if necessary, for about 1 minute. Turn, and cook for another minute. The foie gras should be nicely seared on the outside, yet rare in the middle.
To assemble: Arrange quince in the center of warmed appetizer plates. Top with foie gras slices. Drizzle reduced pomegranate-juice mixture around the quince and foie gras, and garnish with herbs and pomegranate seeds.
Note: This recipe has been adapted from "Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook," by Alfred Portale. Copyright 1997 by Alfred Portale. Used by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House.