Guilt-Free Foie Gras?
South Dakota–based goose producer Jim Schiltz stopped by our kitchen yesterday to give us our first taste of “late harvest” goose liver, a naturally produced (and legal, if you live in Chicago) alternative to force-fed foie gras that could give the anti-foie movement less to honk about. In the early 1990s, Schiltz began noticing that geese “harvested” later than usual (at 30 weeks, as opposed to the typical 18 weeks) had livers that were much larger, with a lighter color and fattier consistency than the lobes of younger geese. We tried the livers seared and as the basis for a terrine and a mousseline; they have a taste and texture very similar to livers fattened via la gavage, though they’re still considerably smaller than your typical force-fed lobe.
A Spanish producer, Pateria de Sousa, has also joined the race to produce ethically sound foie gras. Their product, called Ganso Iberico, is made by harvesting livers from geese who have fatted themselves in preparation for a migration that will never happen. According to this account, Ganso Iberico costs about one-and-a-half times as much as traditional foie gras. Schiltz’s lobes are about half as expensive as what you might buy in a gourmet market: He’s now selling them on his website for $58 (Grade A, best for searing and terrines) and $24 (Grade B, best for mousses and sauces) for two pounds, plus shipping.