Guys and gals and non-binary pals.
I’ve had my first Ladurée failure.
It was bound to happen, let’s be honest. Me, someone who had never made French food. French food, which is intricately haute cuisine-y on a good day. Our relationship is tentative at best. We were bound to have a row.
Our dish of the day is Foie Gras. Specifically, Salade reine des glaces et foie gras de canard des Landes à la plancha (Grilled Foie Gras, Loose Leaf Lettuce Salad, Hazelnut Oil Vinaigrette), page 98.
Looking back, it was a disaster waiting to happen.
From the get-go, I can’t eat hazelnut oil without turning into a massive ball of red itchiness, so that had to be replaced with olive oil. The real issue was the star of the show.
Now, I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, I eat animal produce on a daily basis. We only do grass fed beef and free range chicken and organic eggs in my house, but we still eat meat. We are omnivores, so we have no high moral ground to stand on.
But Foie Gras, y’all. Foie Gras is disgusting.
I found my ethical boundary, it seems. I’ll eat meat that I can pretend was humanely treated and ethically killed, but I can’t do Foie Gras. Yet, I still wanted to do the first recipe of the Lunch: Variations on a Classic Theme, which involved the darned thing. So, I got creative and used Duck Pâté, which I named Pâté Gras.
That was mistake number 1.
Mistake number 2 was following the recipe blindly without checking it through to make sure it made sense.
Mistake 3 was trying to salvage an unsalvageable situation.
Let’s start from the very beginning (a very good place to start).
I started the recipe by making a simple red wine vinaigrette. Simply mix in red wine vinegar with salt and white pepper, give it a little mix, and then incorporate the olive oil. Easy and pretty looking.
The issue came with the cooking of the Pâté Gras. I cut it in slices and tried following the recipe by searing it in a pan without adding any extra grease. It toasted nicely, but didn’t smell great. The next step was to add the chicken stock (which I didn’t make from scratch but used store-bought, mistake number 4), to the pan to heat up. Now, my Pâté Gras left bits in the pan which burned, so I couldn’t add the stock to it or it’d be gross. Since I figured it was just to heat it up, I heated the damned thing in the microwave.
Only after plating did I realize the recipe neglected to tell me where to use the cornstarch I carefully spooned when gathering the ingredients. So, I can only assume that I was meant to add the chicken stock to the grease that remained from the Pâté Gras and thicken it with cornstarch.
Alas, hindsight is 20/20. My first plating of this mess looked like this.
Let’s cry together over how terrible this looks.
Appetizing, isn’t it? Yeah, I know, dear reader, it looks sad. I was sad.
Annoyed and a little hungry, I did what any responsible adult would do. I called my mother.
Mom came over, looked at my sad state of affairs and started working. Using a different type of lettuce, no chicken stock, and some artistically placed drops of vinaigrette, this is her end result.
Doesn’t it look beautiful? Mom’s an artist, that looks lovely.
Now for the taste test!
I’m not gonna mince words, here, reader, it tasted gross. The vinaigrette was nice and the salad crunchy, but the Pâté Gras was sauceless and tasted fatty and gross, and this was just a huge failure. Half on my side (the Foie Gras substitution), half on Ladurée’s side (the sauce explanation was completely botched).
Just… No. Huge no.
Level of difficulty: 2 out of 10.
Level of yumminess: -10 out of 10.
Tomorrow: something better, please Ladurée Gods.
What’s your stance on Foie Gras, dear reader?