With its equal-parts proclivity for both savory and sweet applications, foie gras is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, a sentiment that Chicago chefs and pastry chefs have taken to heart in recent years. Especially lately, foie gras has really been lighting up menus all over town in novel new dishes that span not only savory to sweet, but breakfast to dinner. From decadent morning sandwiches to gourmet fudgesicles, here are eight new foie gras dishes to try right now in Chicago.
Band of Bohemia: Affectionately nicknamed the “foie-sicle,” the foie gras fudgesicle at Band of Bohemia may very well be the dessert of the summer. A surefire way to up the ante on this childhood ice cream pastime, the foie creation is the handiwork of ever-inventive pastry chef George Kovach, who dips a chilly blend of foie gras, banana, almond, pink peppercorn and kaffir lime in chocolate. True to form, it’s all served on a stick for optimal licking, with foie gras’ innate creamy richness blending in nicely with the chocolate and banana.
The Purple Pig: One of the most exciting morning developments in recent memory has been the addition of breakfast to The Purple Pig’s portfolio. While fresh pastries, breakfast piadinas and fried smashed potatoes are all exciting in their own rights, the star of the menu is Jimmy Bannos Jr.’s unabashedly decadent breakfast sandwich. The chef layers foie gras on a fluffy house-baked English muffin with truffle sausage, egg and membrillo, a tart quince paste that serves to balance the foie and sausage.
The Duck Inn: One of the most playful (literally) interpretations of foie gras in Chicago can be found at The Duck Inn, where chef Kris Delee is forming foie gras mousse into Lego shapes for a dish inspired by a quintessential afternoon snack. The snack in question is “ants on a log,” the dish consisting of peanut butter smeared on celery and dotted with raisins. In updating the childhood favorite, Delee is naturally giving the dish a look modeled after childhood toys, with foie gras-peanut butter mousse, celery granite, celery-raisin mostarda, crushed peanuts and nasturtium petals. The mousse is molded into Lego log shapes, then frozen to help solidify. Says Delee, “As a kid, those were two of the best things in the world: Legos and celery-covered in peanut butter!”
The Gage: With its tendency towards creamy richness, foie gras is one of those ingredients that easily plays with both savory and sweet. At The Gage, it serves to enhance a classic French dessert, as the St-Germain-poached foie gets layered between flaky puff pastry. Along with fresh farm strawberries and a dusting of matcha green tea, the dessert features a range of crunchy and creamy textures, along with sweet, herbal, buttery flavors.
Topolobampo: Tongue tacos with foie gras pastry cream may very well be the most offbeat interpretation of foie gras ever. It’s all going down at Topolobampo, where chef Zach Steen and line cook Meagan O’Connor double-teamed the idea as a means of enriching and sweetening the meaty dish. “There’s a lot happening on our tongue taco — we have tongue two ways, both seared and cured, a little heat from salsa huevona and some salty acidity from pickled cactus and fried capers,” explains Steen. “But the real crown jewel is the dollop of foie gras pastry cream we add.” The chefs blend orbs of seared foie with caramelized onion and a splash of brandy, then they mix in some heavy cream and put it back on the heat to thicken. “After a few minutes of intense whisking, we’re left with this boozy, rich, luxurious cream to balance out those other flavors,” Steen adds. “It’s sort of an intense process for just a small garnish, but it’s unforgettably awesome.”
Fulton Market Kitchen: Foie gras mind games are always a fun surprise. Such as foie gras mousse that perfectly resembles a Mandarin orange, like that at Fulton Market Kitchen. Taking the notion of foie gras mousse with fruit and toast to the next level, chef Chris Curren molds foie with Mandarin orange jelly into a perfectly rounded, citrus-shape dome. It’s served with toasted sourdough for convenient smearing and snacking.
Dusek’s Board & Beer: Foie gras, truffles and cheese come together for the ultimate bar snack at Dusek’s Board & Beer. The dish is a silky-smooth and impossibly rich fondue made with a mixture of Emmentaler cheese, foie, shaved black truffles and Madeira wine, at once sweet, creamy and funky. It’s all crowned with toasted bread crumbs for a bit of added crunch.
Trench: At Trench, foie gras plays a role in riffing on PB&J, giving the nostalgic staple a savory update and a gourmet upgrade. For his foie torchon, acclaimed chef Jared Wentworth serves up a savory peanut butter savarin cake, along with a brûlée of fig, cocoa and pickled strawberry.
Formerly known as Trenchermen, Heisler Hospitality have morphed their Bucktown staple into Trench. Borrowing a page from American tavern lore, the hospitality group have honed in on contemporary American cuisine...