Actually, this is the shopping from last Wednesday from the outdoor market in Thenon, ;the local outdoor village market close to where we used to live in Ajat. It's a great little market with a covered market in the town hall as well where local farmers who raise geese and ducks sell their products. The bread is from the little bakery at the bottom of the hill and the bottle contains fresh pressed walnut oil.
The object on the plate is a 700 gram fresh duck liver from a huge barbary duck. Last week I featured a recipe on making dried duck magret from the barbary ducks. The ducks are also used to make the regional speciality of the Dordogne, Confit. Confit is the parts of the ducks, legs, thighs and breasts slowly cooked in its own fat, then sealed in the fat to preserve it. This is what people did before refrigeration. You killed the duck or goose and cooked it in fat, then sealed it under fat in a crock. The crock could be buried all winter and then dug up from time to time and pieces removed, crisped up in the oven and the fat used to make the very best potatoes. I mentioned this before, but waterfowl fat is traditionally used her in place of meat fat or butter in cuisine. Liberally. as I stated earlier, duck and waterfowl fat is an omega 3 fat...a healthy fat which actually unclogs arteries, like fish oil. The Southwest of France has the lowest rate of Heart problems in Europe and much less than the USA. We attribute that to a healthy dose of Duck fat and red wine!
So the 700 gram duck liver is actually a raw foie gras liver. We have been making foie gras de canard au torchon mi-cuite now for a few months while it is in season. Since I am buying the livers from the producers, the price is fairly inexpensive. I know that there is a lot of controversy about the consumption of Foie gras in the USA. In Eastern Europe the conditions of the culture are pretty grotesque and it is easy for the PETA activists to make this into grist for their selective outrage. The waterfowl are force fed for a period of 3 months and their activity is restricted. This causes their livers to become enlarged and very tender. Yes, that is what foie gras is. But I know where my duck liver comes from. I know that the ducks involved are raised free range and have watched the gavage process. The ducks seem to like it...There is no comparison to the machine like cruelty and horrific conditions that most of the chicken you purchase in the USA is produced with. I guarantee, these ducks eat only good grain, no cement or ground up chicken bones here. We peasants care passionately about what goes into our food! So, if perchance, you happen to come across a good deal on duck liver in the USA and would like to know what to do with it, I am posting this little video. It's in French, but basically, the chef soaks the liver in milk with a little gros sel...you could use kosher salt covered with a paper towel for an hour or so. Then he separates the lobes and finds the veins and nerves and tries to take them out as neatly as possible. It really doesn't matter if you make a mess, though, the texture of the live is like putty. You then season the liver with salt and pepper. The chef here sprinkles armagnac brandy on it, but you could use port wine or a dash of sugar. Then he wraps it in tightly plastic into a compressed cylinder. The plastic wrapped cylinder is rolled in a clean towel (a torchon) and the roll is simmered in simmering, not boiling water for an hour. The you cool it, and let it sit in the fridge for a few days before eating it. Not difficult at all, but one of life's great pleasures and culinary treasures.