Adapted From Nico Ladenis, one of Britain’s greatest chef’s. Born in Tanganyika to Greek immigrant parents, he was self-taught, working his way up with graft from Dulwich to Park Lane and a chain of eponymous restaurants. He was the first self-taught chef to receive three Michelin stars and remains one of only 7 restaurateurs to have received a 10/10 from the Good Food Guide. He retired from the business in 2003. His influence was enormous, and was a mentor to Gary Rhodes, who cooked this dish the one time I dined at Chez Nico on Park Lane.
The recipe exists online with slightly different variations. This is my minimally adapted version. I took my S.O. here for dinner when we were courting, and it was a dish like this that we fell in love over. Hot melted foie gras has never been so transporting, and every other has to be measured by this one.
It is a mouth-watering dish that will blow your mind. A rich concoction in which slices of foie gras are quickly cooked and served on toasted brioche. Caramelized oranges go particularly well with foie gras and balance the richness of the liver. The light veal reduction flavoured with cognac and fruit, and the salad leaves which have been dressed in hazelnut oil, also help offset the richness of the main ingredients. It is an unforgiving dish, and requires the right equipment, not often found in home kitchens.
The secret of the recipe is to use the right frying pan at the right temperature when you cook the foie gras. The aim is to char and brown the surface of the goose liver all over and to leave the inside nice and pink and soft. Have everything assembled and ready before you begin, as the frying takes only a few seconds.
There is one vital thing to remember about foie gras. Because the liver is full of fat, it solidifies and becomes hard if left in the fridge. If left at room temperature, it becomes too soft and floppy to handle. Remove the liver from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature no more than 1/2 hour to an hour before you begin.
- 60 ml (4 tbsp) brown sugar
- 150 ml (9 tbsp) clarified butter
- 12 orange segments, pith removed
- 400 ml Fond de Veau
- 70 ml (4 tbsp) cognac
- 60 g butter
- 30 ml (2 tbsps) hazelnut or macadamia nut oil
- 8 sprigs of mâche (lamb’s lettuce)
- 4 oak leaf lettuce leaves
- 4 slices of brioche
- 4 slices of fresh foie gras each 1 cm thick and weighing about 100-150g
Preheat the grill so that it is very hot. Melt the brown sugar in the clarified butter and brush over the orange segments. Caramelize under the grill for 20 seconds and keep warm. Do not cook them thorugh or they will fall to pieces. Set aside.
Over a high heat, rapidly reduce the veal stock until you have 3 tbsps left. Add the cognac and butter and simmer until the sauce is thick. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Pour the hazelnut oil and the salt in an empty bowl and brush the bowl with mâche leaves. Do the same with the oak leaf lettuce leaves. Arrange the lightly oiled leaves on the sides of 6 serving plates.
Toast the slices of brioche and plce one slice on each plate, on the opposite side to the salad leaves.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan to a very high temperature. Put the slices of foie gras in the pan without any fat. Turn over with a palette knife after 15 seconds. Leave to cook for another 15 seconds, and season lightly with salt. As the foie gras melts, you will need to pour it off (but don’t throw it away, it makes a great base for other sauces).
Place the cooked foie gras on top of the brioche and arrange the caramelized oranges on top. Pour over the sauce. Serve with a glass of Sauternes. Serves 4.