There are three grades of foie gras on the market, and Grade A is the most acclaimed of them all. It should be firm and light-colored, almost white. The weight varies from 1 to 3 pounds, which is fairly large, and the shape should be very round and bulbous (sort of like a football), firm and pliable. It does not have any blemishes or veins. The best Grade A foie gras is produced in France, where government regulations (not in place in the US) require stricter quality controls in foie gras production, which creates a consistent high quality product.
- Use for: Generally found served in top restaurants, this is the gourmet foie gras you want to reserve for your most sophisticated affairs.
- Best if: Sautéed, grilled, or poached, always using low-heat cooking.
The second-best grade; it is smaller and its weight ranges within the half to one-and-a-half pound range. You'll see a flatter, more compact shape, a much softer texture, and a darker color. The surface can show more veins and blemishes (which will generally disappear when cooked). Grade B foie gras can be quite exquisite, if you get it from a reputable source, although it will tend to produce more fat when cooked.
- Use for: Those occasions that call for flavor without as much importance to visual perfection of the dish (so do not use for terrines).
- Best if: Used for sautéing and searing which diminishes any visual imperfections and reduces the amount of fat and blood. Can also be made into mousses or pâtés.
Generally hard to get, because it's considered to be of lower quality, smaller, with significantly more veins and blemishes than other types of foie gras. It is usually made commercially into emulsions, like pâtés and mousses, and is hard to find retail (since most people prefer higher grades for home cooking).