Foie gras comes from the French and the definition literally means, “fat liver”. Which is exactly what foie gras is: the liver of a goose or duck that has been specially fattened.
Ducks and geese are designed to gorge on food right before they migrate, naturally “fattening” and expanding their liver to pull them through their voyage. The process of foie gras imitates this process using a technique known as “gavage”.
So how is foie gras made? The process of making foie gras is surprisingly simple: the geese or duck are raised just like any other fowl, given feed and allowed to eat grasses. At about 13 weeks, the animals begin the gavage process, where they are fed through a flexible plastic tube that’s inserted into their mouth and down their esophagus, and drops a fixed amount of food into the stomach. This lasts about two weeks, after which the animals are processed and the fattened, buttery liver removed.
The fresh liver or fresh foie gras is typically cooked by pan-searing, but it can also be made into a variety of preparations, like mousses, terrines, blocs or torchons, sometimes mixed with duck fat or duck meat.