Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mission: Foie Gras Tart

This week, we're not only doing this recipe in a new kitchen... and we're not only preparing the dish using electric appliances (instead of gas)... we're also preparing it to serve to our mothers (both of 'em!) who came up for an early Mother's Day retreat at a friend's beach house in Gualala, California. Will Jacob and Melissa be undone by the confluence of a strange kitchen and the deep pressure of cooking for, and in sight of, their Moms? Let's find out.

First, there was a mis en place:

The view from the kitchen in Gualala

Whoops! That's the view from the kitchen! Sorry.

Here's the mis en place:

Foie Gras Tart Meez

You'll notice that we have the dough all ready in the bowl there, as well as the balsamic vinegar reduction and makings for PDC mashed potatoes, all of which will be required this week: because basically, we're just assembling some previously done (but freshly made) ingredients this week! Easy right?


Anyway, first we made the potatoes by getting the curds under way:


And then got into peeling the taters:


Which we then sliced up and pushed through our new toy, the tamis. Here's what they looked like coming out:


And from here, it was just like the PDC Mashed Potatoes were before, with roasted garlic and the curds folded in; until we got this:


Now we made a quick bechamel, as we had before, but with different tools:


And with that done we were ready to get into the dough. This was by far the most difficult part of the recipe, as Jacob forgot once again virtually all of his hard won pastry knowledge of years gone by and made it much harder than it probably needed to be. Still, we eventually did get things rolled out:


And then we did eventually get six rounds out of the dough, all ready to be piled upon. And so we did:


And then everyone went into the oven just so:


We turned our attention now to the salted foie gras that we had so lovingly prepared earlier in the week:

Salted Foie Gras

And sliced it up:

Salted Foie Gras all sliced up

Now we did the final assembly. The pastry at the bottom, with some bechamel, cheese, mustard, potatoes and a bit of the reduction; all topped by a few slices of foie:

Foie Gras Tart

So, as for the taste... whoa. Rich is the word. The foie, potatoes, and pastry all together were almost unbearably rich; and without the balsamic reduction to cut through the fat (somewhat) we're not sure it would have worked at all. We were too generous with the potatoes - we couldn't help it, we were so proud of them - and this probably weighed down the dish a little bit. While the moms were duly impressed, Jacob was a little disappointed in the pastry. But once again this was surely due to his still-rusty dough skillz and not to the recipe, which was vetted by both Moms on-site. (Note from wife: the pastry was great and Jacob should not be so hard on himself! Flour + Butter = delicious)

Neither of us were able to finish our tart - we so very wanted to, but we just couldn't - but both the Moms did or almost did, all while approving of their dishes loudly and often. We weren't sure if it was because they saw us slaving away over the hot stove and they felt sorry for us or if it really was that delicious. We choose to believe the latter.

Oh! And one more thing... this dish would be an awesome 2-3 bite appetizer, instead of dinner for 6, we'd probably make it as appies for a large dinner party. So. Very. Rich.

Notes to selves: Next time you prepare a new dish in a new kitchen for a critical audience such as your Mothers, consider leaving a little less to chance. We got lucky with this dish!

Notes to selves 2.0: Don't believe everything that you read! When it says something along the lines of "while your tarts cook for 10 minutes, make the potatoes"... it is a LIE. Luckily, we are suspicious by nature and made the potatoes well in advance -- which took us more like an hour, but that's because we, um, sort of undercooked them, which made the AWESOME tamis process a bit of a chore. But it still would have taken more than 10 minutes in a non-professional kitchen!

Time, mis to eat: About five hours all told, including making the salted foie, but we did it in manageable broken up blocks -- and that doesn't include 24 hours for chilling the salted foie or chilling the dough.

Next up: Copper Pot Scrub! (unless we find something more interesting at the Farmer's Market -- we're a little foied out this week)

Blast from the past: More foie gras? Yes please!


Anita said...

Now you have a house blog and a food blog, too?! :D

Seriously, fabulous. I can't wait to read more.

Dustin Jensen said...

MMMMMMM! looks yummie.