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March 08, 2010

Pushed Foie Gras, sauternes, pear, chervil

It is so hard to believe that just four weeks ago there was four feet of snow outside my front door, and that today, the temperature will be 60 degrees, the sun will shine, and there will be nary a cloud in the sky.  The weather was gorgeous all weekend, so while I'd had visions of working on the two bison dishes, I completely blew it off and worked outside in my yard for hours on end, cleaning out all the fallen limbs and piles of moldy leaves, pulling weeds that somehow grew beneath the snow, and taking those first steps toward greeting spring.  I have SO MUCH work to do today that it will take all the energy and concentration I have to get it done, instead of standing outside on the front walk, tilting back my head, closing my eyes, and letting the sun warm my face for a bit.  Oh, who am I kidding... I'll do all my work AND take those sunshine breaks, too.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I split one foie gras between two dishes.  This is the second dish.  The preparation for the foie was exactly the same in both recipes, so after I'd pushed the cured and blanched foie through the tamis, I set aside half of it on a parchment-lined sheet tray in the freezer until it was time to plate.

I often do two Alinea dishes concurrently.  Sometimes even three if there are (expensive) shared ingredients I need to work with in a timely fashion.  Doing these two at the same time was actually really easy.  I actually enjoy figuring out what needs to dehydrate when, and what needs more time in the fridge or freezer, and then figuring out what other elements of the dishes I can do during those downtimes.  Some people enjoy rock climbing.  I enjoy time management of cooking things.

The first thing I made was the roasted pear puree.  I roasted 10 pears in a bed of kosher salt for 45 minutes in a 375F-degree oven:

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After they'd had a chance to cool, I peeled and cored them, then pulverized them in the blender for about three minutes, along with some salt and sugar:

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The roast pear puree gets split between two elements in this dish -- pear sorbet and pear panna cotta. 

First, the pear sorbet -- I mixed some of the pear puree in a saucepan with some heavy cream, salt, glucose, and Trimoline and brought it to a boil.  I then let it simmer for about 5-6 minutes before turning off the flame and then adding the juice of half a lemon.  I put the mixture in the fridge for an hour to cool it, before putting it into my ice cream maker for a half-hour.  After it'd been thoroughly chilled, I scooped it into a loaf pan and stored it in the freezer until it was time to plate:

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Next, I made the pear panna cotta.  I soaked 5 gelatin sheets in cold water until they were pliable and all squooshy and stuff.  Then, I put the gelatin sheets in a saucepan with some pear puree, heavy cream, sugar, and salt, and warmed it over low-medium heat, stirring until the gelatin had fully dissolved.

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I removed the liquid from the heat and poured it into plastic-wrap-bottomed ring molds.  You should know the recipe made more than just the six ring mold you see in the photo below.  I also had enough to pour some into 6 more little ramekins, so I had a few extras to enjoy.

The panna cotta-filled ring molds went into the fridge until the liquid had set -- which took about 2 hours.

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The second step of the pear panna cotta was to make a Sauternes gelatin, which I did, and which I also poured on top of the set pear panna cotta and allowed it to set.  No photos of that... sorry.  But you'll see that second layer in the final plating photo.

Now, the one thing I actually did a day before serving (the same day I started the foie) was make the pear chips.  I sliced this lovely little D'Anjou pear lengthwise on my mandoline:

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Then, using a 1" round cutter, I cut out little discs, keeping the pear skin intact in part of it:

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I poached them in some simple syrup for about 2 minutes:

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Then, after gently drying them with a paper towel (those suckers were fragile), I put them in the dehydrator.

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The book suggests they'd be dehydrated and crisp in about three hours, but I'm glad I started these a day ahead, because they took nearly 12 hours to fully dehydrate. 

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To plate, I gently pushed the panna cotta topped with Sauternes gelee out of each ring mold and onto a plate.  Then, I topped it with some of the tamis-ed foie gras (which had actually only been in the freezer for about a half hour).  Next to the foie, a spoonful of pear sorbet, with a pear chip.  Last, a garnish of baby mint leaves.  The recipe called for anise hyssop (even though the title of the dish mentions chervil), but my anise hyssop plant is still hibernating, so I opted for mint (similar taste).

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I served this dish the same afternoon I served the foie gras candy you read about earlier.  We ate this one first, before trying the candy.  It was cold and smooth and fresh, and I absolutely loved the mellow, hey-how-YOU-doin' sweetness of the pear with the taste of Sauternes (I'm not a big fan of dessert wines, but in this preparation, I did), and the creamy foie with that?  WOW.  I didn't think I'd dislike it, but I also didn't expect to like it this much.  I can't imagine a preparation where I wouldn't enjoy foie (okay, maybe foie with celery and cilantro), but this dish is something I'd definitely make again.  Or, you know, I suppose I could just roast a small foie and make a pear chutney to eat with it. 

Pardon me while I go drool......

Up Next: Bison, braised pistachios, potato, sweet spices

Resources: Foie gras from Hudson Valley Foie Gras; D'Anjou pears, mint, and lemon from HMart; David's kosher salt; Domino sugar; Organic Valley heavy cream; gelatin sheets, glucose, and Trimoline from L'Epicerie; Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes (2003); 

Music to Cook By: Fitz and the Tantrums; Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1.  I completely forgot the name of this album, because I never heard a breakup sound quite like this. There's more soul to this album than anything I've heard in the past 20 years.  It feels like soul music did in the early 60s -- nothing over-produced, no artist bigger than the song, just straightforward music with fantastic vocals, and a beat you can't help but bop your head to.

Read My Previous Post: Foie Gras, spicy cinnamon puff, apple candy

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I do miss that classic combination of sauternes and foie - this presentation may just be the type that inspires me to get off my duff and doing some serious cooking again.

Wow, looks fantastic. Do you know if roasting the pears in salt affects the flavor? Or does it facilitate the heat transfer or...am I making things up?
I'd thought no one had heard that Fitz & The Tantrums album but me. Good to know it has been noticed. Have you tried the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Fun!

-----------> Caitlin, you're not making things up at all!! Packing the pears in salt helped them heat evenly (I wish I'd had more salt to fully pack them all the way around), and the salt absorbed the moisture that squidged out of the pears as they roasted, so no burning. Have not heard of the CCD... will go check them out now.

Pear panna cotta? Um, YES PLEASE!!

It's so... so... perfect!

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