Seared Foie Gras with Black Pepper–Duck Biscuits and Carolina Peach Jam Recipe

Seared Foie Gras with Black Pepper–Duck Biscuits and Carolina Peach Jam Recipe
Staff Writer
Seared Foie Gras
Christopher Brown

Seared Foie Gras

Peninsula Grill feels a bit like a Southern gentlemen’s club that wisely and graciously invites the ladies, on bent knee, to supper and later into the parlor (that is, bar) for a dandy of a mint julep and some romantic banter. Suave, swank, and debonair, Peninsula Grill is decorated with restrained Southern taste and hushed by soothing, slate-gray, velvet-lined walls and nineteenth-century portraits of celebrated Charlestonians. Intimate, with just one hundred seats in the dining area, Peninsula Grill is Charleston’s premier special occasion restaurant and one of her most revered. People come from near and far on birthdays, anniversaries, and other notable life occasions for Robert Carter’s elegant (but never prissy) new American cuisine with Southern influences.

Robert’s been steering the ship here since the restaurant opened in 1997, garnering awards and international praise along the way. Though many menus have been modified over the years, he still sticks to the original plan—“a timeless restaurant that is identifiable as both upscale and casual.” Toward that end, he gives diners “steakhouse” choices, like simple grilled steak and seafood paired with a number of sauces (ponder toasted pecan–rosemary butter sauce for a fleeting indulgence!), and dishes he constructs, like his signature Seared Foie Gras with Black Pepper–Duck Biscuits and Carolina Peach Jam.

For the essence of Robert’s gutsy, boyish Southern style, ask why the dish is such a hit; he says with a humble smile, “It works.” Duck confit, essentially duck slowly braised in duck fat (the duck must be entirely covered by the fat), is the principal layer of the dish. “It is a great staple to have in your refrigerator for all kinds of last-minute entertaining, so double or triple the recipe when you make it,” advises Robert. Confit will store well, refrigerated, for one or two months.

Adapted from "The Charleston Chef's Table" by Holly Herrick.

Ingredients

For the duck confit:

  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cups duck fat (available online or at specialty stores)

For the peach jam:

  • ½ pound ripe peaches (about 3 peaches), peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup brandy

For the biscuits:

  • 1 cup self-rising flour (Robert suggests White Lily brand, a Southern flour milled from soft, lowprotein wheat)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1⁄3–½ cup milk (depending on the protein content of the flour; Robert says to “practice, practice, practice” to get the ratio right)

For the foie gras:

  • 1 ¼ –1 ½ pounds whole foie gras, cut into 3 ½ -ounce pieces

To garnish the plates:

  • A few tablespoons good-quality French whole-grain mustard
  • 2 cups fresh petite-leaf lettuce

Special equipment:

  • An ovenproof crock, Dutch oven, or heavy enameled frying pan large enough to hold the duck legs and the fat
  • a large ovenproof, heavy-bottomed sauté pan

Directions

For the duck confit:

Toss the duck legs, salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, and thyme in a bowl. Transfer to a gallon ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Melt the duck fat in the ovenproof crock or frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Remove the duck legs from the ziplock bag and wipe off with a paper towel. Place the duck legs in the crock or frying pan, immersing completely in the duck fat. Cover tightly with lid or foil, place in the oven, and bake for 4-6 hours, or until the duck is falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. If using immediately, remove the duck from the fat, remove and discard the skin, and pull the flesh off the bone. Shred the duck meat and set aside. (To store duck confit longer, leave the whole duck legs in the fat, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 3 months.) You will need ½ cup of shredded duck to make 6 servings of the biscuits.

For the peach jam:

Puree the peaches until they are smooth. Place the peach puree and remaining ingredients in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until thickened to jam consistency. Skim the top as needed to remove any foam. Set aside. (The jam can be made several days in advance and refrigerated in a sealed container until ready to use. Warm the jam to room temperature before serving.)

For the biscuits:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the butter and, using two knives or a pastry cutter, quickly cut in the butter until it is in pieces the size of small peas. With a fork, blend in the milk until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. The inside of the dough should still be wet to the touch. (Be careful not to overwork the dough, or the biscuits will be tough.) Lightly flour a pastry board. Put the dough on it and pat it together, gently, into a ¾-inch-thick round. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out 6 biscuits. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool slightly. (The biscuits can be made 1 day ahead, cooled, and stored in an airtight container, but are best fresh out of the oven.)

For the foie gras:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat on the stove until it is sizzling hot. Place the foie gras slices in the pan and sear until golden, about 1 minute on each side. Place the pan in the hot oven for 3 minutes. Turn the pieces of foie gras over and return the pan to the oven for 1 minute more. The foie gras should be golden brown and spring back to a gentle touch.

To garnish the plates:

Cut the biscuits in half horizontally and spread the bottoms lightly with French wholegrain mustard. Fill each with a few tablespoons of the prepared duck and top with the biscuit top. Place a slice of foie gras on each plate, one filled biscuit-sandwich off to the side, and a dollop (about 2 tablespoons) of the peach jam off to the side. Garnish with a sprinkling of petite-leaf lettuce.

Foie Gras Shopping Tip

When shopping for offal, the meat should be moist, have an even color and texture, and should not have an excessively strong odor.

Foie Gras Cooking Tip

Offal does not keep for long periods of time. Ideally, you should plan on using it right away.