This was one of those fabulous appetizers that you order and when you put it in your mouth, you have to close your eyes to get the full effect of the combination of tastes and textures!
After I ordered this in a Paris restaurant, I had to come home and try to make it. How hard could it be? I noted some important points such as: the dough for the ravioli was that used for chinese dumplings rather than an italian pasta dough. This was important in that in order to balance the delicate foie gras, it had to be light in texture and neutral in taste. Also, the sauce had to be sweet, a little acidic and also quite light, more of an emulsion.
I had learned that the best way to eat foie gras (this is foie gras au torchon or that is partially cooked - not pan seared foie gras) is to pair it with a crunchy toasted brioche bread, a little sprinkle of fleur de sel (sea salt) and a sweet acidic topping of sweet onion chutney or fig chutney. This is just simply the perfect combination to bring out its delicate smooth taste and creamy texture.
As it turns out, the whole recipe was not that difficult to make and has since received rave reviews.
When in Canada, I can buy the chinese ravioli dumpling wrappers (they are usually frozen). However, in Switzerland, I could not find them so I had to use fresh pasta dough that is sold at the market. If you don't have access to ready made dough - I recommend the pasta dough recipe from Tomas Kellar's French Laundry Cookbook. The pasta dough was very good but just a little heavier in texture - I prefer the chinese dough for ease and texture.
You will need: makes 12 - 2.5 inch (5 cm) raviolis (serves 4-5 people)
For the ravioli:
- 24 chinese dumpling pasta sheets (can be found in asian markets or frozen section of the grocery store), thawed
- 100 g of foie gras au torchon (this is cooked foie gras and is usually found in a tube shape)
- sea salt
- 1 beaten egg (to seal the pasta)
- Prepare the foie gras in about 8 - 9 gram round pieces that will fit in the center of the ravioli;
- Lay one dumpling sheet on a flat surface and set the piece of foie gras in the middle;
- Sprinkle with fleur de sel (sea salt - put about 4-5 large granules of salt per ravioli);
- Using pastry brush, paint the egg wash around the edge of the foie gras;
- Lay another dumpling sheet over the foie gras and carefully seal by pressing out all the air bubbles (you can make a pleat in the dough to do this);
- Cut out the ravioli with a 2.5 (5 cm) inch cookie cutter and set aside.
- Continue to make all your ravioli this way and then place them in the freezer covered until you are ready to cook them. (Lay them side by side in whatever container you choose but make sure you do not lay them on top of each other without separating them with a sheet of wax or parchment paper. You do not want them to stick. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a week);
- When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook in small batches so they do not stick together. They should cook for about 2 minutes but to make sure, take one out to taste it. Remove them and set them on a clean dish towel to drain. Transfer to a lightly oiled dish and cover to keep warm.
Note: When you place the frozen ravioli in the boiling water, the center foie gras will stay colder longer and not melt so fast. This will allow you enough time to cook the dough without melting the foie gras stuffing.
For the Sweet Onion Cream (makes 225 ml of sauce or about 3/4 cup)
What makes this sauce so good is that it is naturally sweet from the cooked onions and leeks. I use it in may different things (like béchamel) to help balance out salty dishes.
- 1 large leek (about 160g) white part only, sliced lengthwise in half and then in 1/2 inch (about 2 cm) pieces. Remove the root end and the first layer of leek (it is tough).
- 1 medium yellow onion (about 90g) large diced
- 1 large shallot (about 30g) diced
- 1 tbsp each of butter and oil
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) of water
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) of heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- Green sprouts for decoration
- Espelette pepper for decoration
- Put oil and butter in a large pan and sweat the leek, onion and shallot over medium heat for about 10 minutes (no color);
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the water and the cream and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes;
- Transfer the sauce mixture to the blender and blend on high for about 1 minute;
- Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and press down well on the solids to extract as much flavor and texture as possible;
- Check and adjust seasoning.
- In order to create an emulsion, when you are ready to serve the heated sauce, just use a plunging hand mixer to add air. Otherwise, you can return it to blender and blend again just before serving.
- Spoon a little sauce in the center of the plate and lay 2 or 3 ravioli on top. Add a little more of the emulsified sauce and a few little green sprouts for decoration.
- Sprinkle a little espelette pepper for color if you have it.
Time investment: Ravioli Prep: 30 minutes
Sauce Prep and Cooking: 45 minutes
Final cooking and plating: 10 - 15 minutes