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34 responses to “Wild Foie Gras is Real”

  1. Bumbling Bushman

    A wild foie gras? Must be the golden fleece of hunting. I fear there’s an even slimmer chance at such a morsel for us East Coasters. The ducks might have flooded corn, but we have little rice production (with the exception of the Cape Fear area in NC). Very interesting your link to the pintail foraging study. Though almost everyone (me included) consider green-winged teal to be among the very finest eating birds, my wife thinks they taste fishy. Now I have to go back and check my logbook to see when I’m shooting most of my teal. I suspect it’s later in the season. Maybe teal are following the same dietary calendar as the pintails.

  2. amy manning

    Very interesting. I don’t typically care for liver either. But I did have foie gras once in culinary school and now I understand the obsession.

  3. Steve-Anna

    I’m still left curious how this fois gras compared to others, since I would describe good fois gras, in general, as “Crispy, soft, meaty, fatty.” When simply prepared.

    Can you please say more about the wild fois gras taste? The best fois gras I had, BTW, was in a tiny town called Ax Les Thermes at the Hotel Terminus:

    http://www.marmot-tours.co.uk/accomodation/teminus.htm

    The windows of the rooms overlook the River Ariege, and I had to imagine that the fois gras I ate came from one of the ducks gliding past. I admit I was a bit taken aback when the chef told me the fois gras was topped with “cerises” (cherries) which I understood to be “souris” (mice!). I would have eaten it anyway it was so good ; )

  4. Dave Proulx

    Hmmm….this year I’ve been hunting ducks quite a bit in the St. Lawrence Valley of NY. The marshes are filled with wild rice, but I imagine that food source would not yield the same results as domestic rice delivers to ducks feeding in Cal. Having said that, I’m going to pay close attention to the condition of any duck livers I get this weekend.

  5. Joshua

    Very cool about the Spanish liver fat.

  6. Andrew

    Wow!

    I had no idea what foie gras looked like; I’ll keep a better eye on my ducks!

    I’d seen something like it in pigeon livers that I ate on a whim after a few clean head shots left the guts untrammeled. The livers were absolutely stunning and melted like butter. But I guess, given your explanation, it would make sense: I got a handful of grain out of every crop, including peas and canola. That would do it.

    Can you keep the liver out of a hung bird?

  7. kirsten

    fabulous post! Loved it all, but particularly about the idea of wild foie gras. Amazing, thanks for posting!

  8. Bbq Dude

    That is a beautiful thing. I’m terribly jealous.

  9. Ann

    This was terrific. I teach children about the wetlands and we often talk about the rice that is left after harvest being an important food source for migrating waterfowl here on the Pacific Flyway. Guess I didn’t realize just how good a source it was. Thank you for the info on the Pintail studies and about diet change in breeding waterfowl. Very interesting.

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    […] – It is possible for ducks in the wild to produce foie gras – they just have to be really fat ducks. [HAGC] […]

  11. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I know I’ve been living under a rock when I find out “honor the protein” is a cliche — and I’ve never heard of it.

    That fois gras sure is a fine illustration, though.

  12. Matt

    This is a great post Hank! I took two Canadian geese here in Minnesota last weekend and made your terrine recipe. I put the livers in at different places to add some structure and diversity to the creation. I mentioned to my wife during assembly how different the livers looked at the time as one was a little lighter in color. Maybe I had a little of your wild foie gras going on?

    In any regard…..the terrine turned out great!

  13. Phil

    This is fantastic, Hank. The next time those tree-hugging PETA crazies start up on the fois gras ban again, they should read this. Given the chance, the geese actually gorge themselves. Who knew?

  14. Cork@Cork'sOutdoors

    Reminds me how much is now practice in farming, but was learned and then reinforced from the wild as humans started and expanded animal husbandry in contrast to hunting.

  15. Exploded Daniel

    Brilliant! This makes me want to try it with people. I guess there are lucky animals in nature that just get FED.

  16. Kristina

    Really interesting post! I loved learning about how the Spaniards are doing foie too.
    One thing that struck me was the comment about the rice fields. I was recently in Cambodia where most rice production is done in a commercial way, with pesticides. However, some small producers (including some local schools) are growing rice organically and they ALL keep ducks around the rice fields. They say that the ducks are critical to the organic production cycle. I have to say, those were some fat and happy ducks and this post has made me start to think about their livers…

  17. Andrew

    Hank —

    I’ve never seen an actual fat pigeon, as in “lined with fat.” The closest I’ve come to it was with the liver birds, which I shot in June, and they only had a small amount on them, with nothing in the body cavity. I would imagine that with the non-migratory habit, the metabolism of the bird is always running full tilt; thus the crop full of grain not lending itself to body fat.

    Beyond that, the birds here survive in weather that falls to about -52 C, which is the coldest I’ve seen it. They must burn incredible amounts of energy to survive in that weather. The liver birds referred to tasted markedly different from normal — way milder — when I shot them in June; one would wonder if the nicer weather destresses the birds and allows the metabolism to pull back a bit.

  18. Karen

    If I’d seen that foie gras liver in a bird, I’d have thought there was something wrong with it and thrown it out! So, I’m glad to have read this – very informative. Recently got a gorgeous liver from the first antelope of the season. It was delectable with just a dusting of seasoned flour and fried quickly in a hot pan with bacon grease. But then, I love the taste of liver.

  19. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)

    This is beautiful. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Ryan

    Spectacular post. I learn something new every time you write!

  21. Buzzie

    I have to admit that I’m thinking about my liver now and feeling all wuggley. No more rice for me – although I suspect that the Port downstairs is more of a problem. I wonder if the livers go back and forth? Too bad there’s no way to see a duck liver before the migration gorging and after.

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    […] The merits of wild foie gras. [Hunter Angler Gardener Cook] […]

  23. Ryan Napolitano

    Hi Hank,
    Great article! I was recently looking at at talk on TED (ted.com) about a similarr phenomenon, a “natural gavage” that a farmer in Spain is practicing. Below is a link to the talk. Thanks for the good insight!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvrgD0mAFoU

    All the Best,
    Ryan

  24. gevreymarc

    Great post. I buy my duck livers for paté and terrines at the Beaune market from a man who hunts wild ducks. Sometimes there is a fattened, more pale, larger liver in my bag when i get home. This is the wild Foie Gras. I have cooked the two (i love pan fried livers) and it’s richer, creamier with a finer taste. Im really happy i found this blog. Keep up the good work.
    PS. Love your note at the bottom.

  25. Todd

    I just got into hunting, and brought down a pair of Scaups the other day. I was tempted to eat the livers, but shied away from eating them because of the SF Bay and some of the lingering pollutants/heavy metals that go up the food chain. What is your take on this issue?

  26. KF

    Hank – a great post. So much that I’ll forgive you for shooting a hen pintail. ;-)
    Yum. It’s been awhile since I have seen a wild duck liver that looks like that — shot in the Pacific Flyway. Central Flyway birds are more apt to have this condition.

  27. Capitol Style Liver Stuffed Bread | d e l i s h i o n o

    […] phenomenon can happen in the wild (as evidenced by this post) but it’s rare. When the birds are raised domestically, foie gras producers sometimes use a […]

  28. Fatty Liver

    […] in Egypt that the liver tasted better when it was fatty. Is is also still evident in the wild, proven by hunters of wild birds, who will often come across birds with naturally engorged livers. They will also remind us that […]

  29. John Hogan

    Thanks to Duck, Duck, Goose, I am plucking all my wild ducks and saving the internals rather than just the breast meat. Last Saturday I shot a pintail, and after plucking, I noticed it has a lot of fat (skin looked whiter than normal). I reached inside the cavity, and voila! a light brown liver. I followed the same cooking prep (30sec MAX per side) and had a fantastic 4 bite hors d’oeuvre (no sharing!). All that was missing was the Sauternes!

    Good call on the wild foie! I’m keeping my eyes open for fatty ducks from now on!

  30. Ivette

    Where can I buy fresh duck livers in the Houston area? I am dying to make a duck liver pate and no one sells duck liver.

  31. Matt Mazzuca

    I was looking for a restaurant on the Vegas strip that servers foie gras for a friend of mine that is there this week and stumbled upon this article by Hank Shaw. Foie gras was my guilty pleasure on occasion when fine dining, but with the California outlaw I have been without. My son just passed his hunter safety test at the ripe age of 9 and will be in the blind with me starting October 18th as a shooter. We’ll harvest a couple hundred ducks this seasons, mostly Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Widgeon and Pintail. We pick our ducks whole and eat every delicious morsel. I will be adding duck liver to the meat pile we consume this year given this awesome tid bits in this article! Great information and thanks for the new idea. Shoot straight and best of luck this fall!

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