After the wonderful dinner my new friends Teun and Auldo cooked for me, it was time to return the favor. I decided to serve to them a collection of my favorite classic Italian recipes and some of my own creations. After an aperitif of a Bernard Pertois champagne, the first appetizer I served was something I’d created a few years ago before I started blogging, inspired by a dish we had at Librije: foie gras with crottin de chavignol and beetroot.
It sounds like an unlikely flavor combination, but it works really well. When eaten together, it has the great effect that you first taste the beetroot, then the foie gras and finally the goat cheese. The colors of purple, pink, and white look pretty as well. We had one bottle left of the opulent 2003 Pouilly Fumé “Tradition Cullus” from Masson-Blondelet, which still had enough of the typical sauvignon character to go well with the goat cheese, but it is rich enough and had mellowed sufficiently over the years to go well with the creaminess of the foie gras as well. This wine is unlike other pouilly fumé and is vinified and matured in traditional 600 litre oak barrels.
- Hot-Smoked Scallop with Roasted Pepper and Pea Puree. We tried a 2010 Planeta Chardonnay from Sicily with this, which was a bit of a gamble since I had never tasted that wine before. It was not as smoky as I had hoped; it didn’t clash but it wasn’t a great pairing either.
- Sous-Vide Sea Bass with Herb Salad and Vitello Tonnato Sous-Vide as antipasti, with a 2010 Malvirà Arneis “Trinità”
- Meat Ravioli with Butter and Sage, with a 2006 Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
- Saltimbocca with a side of Eggplant Parmigiana, served with a 2005 Brolio Chianti Classico
- Sous-vide Pigeon with Smoky Pigeon Jus, mushrooms “trifolati” and Spinach tartlets, served with a 2001 Bovio Barolo “Bricco Parusi”
- Bounet Sous-vide with a 2009 Viola Moscato Passito. A Barolo Chinato would have been a better pairing, but this is very hard to find outside of Italy.
On with the recipe. This is not really a recipe, since it is mostly selecting the right ingredients and presenting them in a nice way. The only thing added to them is a bit of salt, and so the success of the dish will depend on the quality of the ingredients. I used raw fresh organic goose foie gras that has a lot of flavor and melts in your mouth. If you don’t like to eat raw foie gras, you could also use paté instead. Crottin de Chavignol is a raw-milk goat cheese. It needs to be ripened sufficiently long to have developed a bit of the typical pungent flavor, but it should still be slightly creamy and not too dry.
For 4 servings as a small appetizer
100 grams (3.5 oz) raw fresh foie gras (I used goose, but duck works as well), or foie gras paté
1 crottin de chavignol, not too dry, or 60 grams of another ripened raw-milk goat cheese
1 large beetroot, big enough to cut 4 slices with a diameter of 6 cm (2 1/3 inch) and a thickness of 6 mm (1/4 inch)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Wrap the beetroot into aluminum foil and cook for 1 hour in an oven preheated to 200C/400F. Let the beetroot cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 3 hours.
Cut 4 slices of 6 mm (1/4 inch) out of the center of the beetroot, and then cut perfect rounds using a 6 cm (2 1/3 inch) ring mold. There is no need to peel the beetroot first, as you are discarding the outer layer anyway.
Fit the ring mold over the beetroot. Arrange a slice of foie gras on top. The warmth of your fingers will make the foie gras very malleable, so you can easily manipulate it in order to get an even layer.