My husband and I were discussing the ban on foie gras in California and wondered if it was banned in other States. What California actually banned was the gavage or force feeding of birds. I don’t believe that you can have “real”, quality foie gras without force feeding but I do understand the why of California, the State I grew up in; California is filled to the brim with bleeding heart, tree hugging, liberal, vegetarians! I, of course, escaped this subversive influence because my mother was from Texas 😉
Happily for us, according to the internet, foie gras is not banned in the other States. In fact, right across the Delaware river in Ferndale, New York, not far from where my husband grew up, is the Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Duck Company, the proud producer of duck products from Mulard ducks, including foie gras, duck legs and duck breasts.
Despite a particularly virulent news article by Huffington Post, Hudson Valley Foie Gras unflinchingly practices gavage in order to to offer the American public French quality magret(duck breast) and foie gras. Having nothing to hide, the company has an open door policy and will show a visitor anything they are interested in seeing, including gavage.
Since I have already seen gavage, and cage free ducks standing around in a large, clean shelter are pretty boring, I quickly moved on to the purpose of the visit; food buying.
Hudson Valley’s duck farm is not really a tourist destination. It’s just a large compound with offices ( 3 of them for USDA personnel), a processing plant and duck sheds. They raise the ducks, process them, package them, store them in refrigerators/freezers, then ship the finished product to restaurants, retail businesses and individuals. I was a little disappointed that they did not have a cute, onsite store with t-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed duck toys, porcelain figurines, etc, however they are more than happy to sell to walk in customers. Still, a t-shirt would have been good, but I understand you can buy one at their online store. 😊
Frankly, after spending so much time eating duck in France, I didn’t know what to expect from an American duck farm. M. Parret would have been pleased! Everything looked “correct.” I bought 16 portions of frozen foie gras scallops, 2 packages of magret and a hefty package of 6 duck legs in case of surprise visitors or a blizzard.
It was difficult to choose what to cook first but because I had some fresh borlotti beans in the freezer, I thought what the heck, might as well do a cassoulet.
This was a good choice because between trimming and browning the legs, I had quite a bit of rendered duck fat that I was able to pour in a jar and store in the refrigerator for future gastronomic events.
The duck was very, very good! This was my first time eating a Mulard duck and while the flavor is discernibly different from the French Muscovy/Barbery duck, I am grateful to find such comparable quality on this side of the Atlantic. Thank you M. Yanay and everyone at Hudson Valley Foie Gras! Saved!
Now I need to find a reliable rabbit source! My husband is threatening to load up his gun, but that’s okay because we live in Pennsylvania and it’s his constitutional right :)
3 large duck legs
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup smoked pork butt, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cups shelled fresh borlotti beans
2 cups chicken broth
Trim some of the excess fat from the duck legs and render the fat in a slow skillet, discard/give to the dog the browned pieces and pour the rendered fat into a jar. Season the duck with salt and pepper, then brown in the same skillet, again pouring the fat rendered into the jar and setting the browned legs to the side.
Reintroduce 2 tbsp of rendered fat to the skillet, then lightly brown the diced pork. Add the onion and continue to saute until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, beans and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then pour all into the bottom of a tajine, top with the duck legs, cover and roast in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and continue to roast for 1 hour. Remove the cover and roast for a final 30 minutes.