The Big Birthday Dinner

Every year for the past few i’ve cooked a dinner for my birthday that’s both delicious, and challenging – challenging both my skill in the kitchen, and the pallets of my friends.  In general, they leave wondering why they hadn’t tried one particular something before – though I’m sure there are some lingering reservations.  It’s both a fun tradition, and well, just fun.

So earlier this month, I cooked a completely over the top meal for eight – including Kate and myself.  Like every new challenge it lead to some successes and some failures, but was a great learning experience, and a lot of fun.

My first decision was that I was going to work with an ingredient I love, but really haven’t ever worked with – raw Foie Gras.   I love Foie, and the so-caled controveries surrounding it are just, well, made up.  However, I’ve never worked with raw whole Foie before.   I’ve had Pâté , Torchon, and various seared presentations at all sorts of restaurants, I’ve even used scraps of faoi to make a really delicious Beurre Maitre d’Hotel … but never have I sat there staring at a whole raw lobe of delicious Foie Gras.

I read and read and settled on making two preperations for the dinner – a seared piece for each guest, and a classic torchon – and ordered a whole fresh lobe of Grade A Duck Foie Gras from Hudson Valley Foie Gras.  I ended up with this sitting on my counter … and I really can’t tell you how excited I was.

Raw Whole Grade a Foie Gras from HVFG

I dove in … following a number of different instructions for how to manage it, soaking in milk to draw out the blood, deveining, portioning, and preparing the classic torchon.  For the seared preperation I served small seared slices with a julliened apple salad and a dried cherry mostarda. For the Torchon, I roughly followed Michael Ruhlman’s excellent  recipe/instructions.  It took three days, but it’s worth it.  God it was delicious.

A couple other highlights … home made duck prosciutto and BACON ICE CREAM. Yes. BACON ICE CREAM.

Anyway, here’s the full menu.  I’m happy to post recipes if anyone is interested:

Cocktail – house infused pear vodka with champagne and St. Germain Pearls.
Amuse-Bouche –  Chincotegue Oyster with Pomegranate mignonette and salt foam
Appetizer – Seared Foie Gras with Dried Cherry Mostarda, Apple Salad, and Mustard Caviar
Fish – Pave of salmon & turbot with edible flowers and lemongrass/sechuan flower pepper broth
Entree – ‘Chicken and Biscuit’ Buttermilk ‘Chicken Fried’ Rabbit with pommes puree,  black pepper biscuit, collard puree
Salad – Watercress with house made duck prosciutto,  almond sand, dry lemon walnut vinegrette
Cheese – 15 Mo Comté with Foie Gras Torchon and Lemon Thyme
Desert –  Duo: Chocolate Cake with yogurt and rasberry powder/ Chocolate Cake with bacon ice cream, nutella powder, and bacon brittle

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