Shiver Me Livers

Written by Gwen Ashley Walters Category: Three Bites Issue: December 2014
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

Outlawed in California, decadent foie gras finds an enthusiastic welcome in Valley kitchens.

Lon’s
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley, 602-955-7878, hermosainn.com/lons
Happily, foie gras prohibition is one California craze that hasn’t yet migrated east. Supremely rich and buttery, as if a filet mignon and a stick of butter had a baby, the fattened goose liver is a traditional favorite of upscale diners. Chefs can prepare the scandalous lobe in any number of ways, but frequently choose sweet and acidic accompaniments to counter the hauntingly rich fat. James Ducas, Executive Chef of the Southwestern-inspired Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, is currently pairing a deeply seared slab of Hudson Valley foie gras with a savory cocoa-and-masa tamal, spiced with ancho chile and cumin (pictured, $18). A Mexican chocolate-tinged balsamic syrup reduction provides a balanced counterpoint. Ducas’ interpretation is all at once earthy, spicy, buttery, sweet and tangy – and plenty naughty.

Litchfield’s
300 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park, 623-935-3811, wigwamresort.com
Maybe Chef de Cuisine Chris Knouse was dreaming of a fall-inspired brunch when he created his latest foie gras appetizer ($15), pairing French toast, pumpkin and citrus with a healthy slice of Hudson Valley foie gras. Knouse sears the foie until it’s darkly crusted but still medium rare. House-made bread gets dipped in an egg and cream batter and is seared in the same cast iron skillet as the seared foie, making the toast extra decadent. He pairs the custardy French toast and caramelized foie with simple jam made from local sugar pie pumpkins and candied lime zest. Dreamy indeed.

Binkley’s
6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 480-437-1072, binkleysrestaurant.com
At Kevin Binkley’s flagship restaurant, Hudson Valley foie gras is always on the ever-evolving menu in some form or fashion, from chilled terrines to hot soups. Commonly seared ($28) because “that’s how our guests seem to prefer it,” Binkley’s foie often wanders outside the box. The chef often surprises guests with a foie milkshake, or a jiggle of panna cotta, or a silky flan. Most recently, he dazzled guests with a frozen foie push pop layered with passion fruit and bitter chocolate, evocatively blurring the lines between sweet and savory.