Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Seven Days of Foie Gras: 3) Steamed Foie Gras with Salad Of Broad Beans and Peas from Stefano Cavallini

Continuing this week's series highlighting seven great foie gras recipes and the cookbooks behind them. Previous entries:

The dish: This is a bright, summery dish. An escalope of foie gras is lightly steamed and laid on a bed of ripe broad beans, peas and tomatoes. It is simply dressed with a beetroot vinaigrette. That is all.

Why it’s special: Steaming or poaching is my favourite way of cooking foie gras. While you don’t get the crispy crust of the sauté pan, it’s made up for by a much cleaner foie gras flavour. And (unlike the terrine) you still get the bursting juiciness you get as you bite into the hot liver. Unfortunately recipes which use this technique are rare: Alain Senderens was famous in his time for steaming foie gras in a wrapping of cabbage leaves and Joel Robuchon paired steamed foie gras with a lentil cream, I struggle to think of many other versions. This recipe is also notable for ditching the thuggish foie/fruit combination and instead opting for fresh, green vegetable flavours.
The chef and the book: Trained in Italy with Gualtiero Marchesi, Cavallini ran a one-star Italian at London’s Halkin Hotel for a number of years. He dropped off the radar for a number of years (I vaguely remember him running a deli in Clapham which seemed a crying waste of his talents) but seems to have resurfaced recently at a restaurant called Bacco so maybe there is still hope. Essential Cuisine is his only book, a modish late-90s translation for Italian cuisine with Michelin-star accents. I wouldn’t say this is a must-have book but it’s a pleasant read and contains an excellent step-by-step masterclass on risotto Milanese (one of his mentor Marchesi’s most famous signatures).

Coming up tomorrow: A dish which doesn't do things by halves, from America's very own Mr Torchon.


  1. I know what you mean about the "thuggish" foie/fruit combo. One of the most memorable foie dishes I've ever had combined seared foie with braised collard greens. Seems totally off-putting, but it was savory on top of more savory.

    1. One thing that occurs to me is that foie gras is rarely served as a main course today, almost always as an app. If it was an entree it would probably be paired with green vegetables more often.

      I suspect one reason is the shift away from goose foie gras, which has fallen from the majority to single-digit % of production. If you are portioning goose liver for a hot dish you will be slicing it into large escalopes (simply because of the large size of the liver) which are more suited towards a main course than a starter.

      Conversely if you are using duck foie gras as you are today the pieces are much smaller and are much more suited for an appetiser, where the customer doesn't expect a large hunk of protein.

  2. This is the first time I've ever heard of Stefano Cavallini. (I live in the United States).

    But, I can't find his recipe for risotto Milanese online and now I want to find that book just for the section about risotto.

    Is this the best cookbook about learning how to cook risotto? What makes it better than any other Italian books on the market with regards to risotto?

    1. Ach sorry I took a while to respond. Hmmm not sure its online (unfortunately Amazon doesn't seem to have Search Inside The Book for this title which is how I normally look for non-online recipes!). The book looks pretty available on the US site however - going cheap second-hand.

      Not sure about other books one you might want to try iks Giorgio Locatelli's Made In Italy which is a pretty comprehensive tour de force of Italian cuisine from a chef with both Italian and haute French (La Tour D'Argent) experience.

      Whatever you do AVOID the grossly over-hyped "Silver Spoon". It is a terrible book.