Faux Gras with Shitake and Cognac

Faux Gras with Shitake and Cognac

Update: I was in the Wall Street Journal for this Faux Gras recipe

I bought Michel Richard’s Happy in the Kitchen book a few months back, and while I can gleefully tell you that its my favorite eye-candy boyfriend cookbook, I have only attempted to make one thing from the book, for fear that I could never replicate the dish and please HiK. My dish would just be a sad version of what was on the page, fully disappointing HiK, who would probably tsk-tsk me and leave me for a more competent cook.  I am totally content to just have HiK please me and wow me with the lovely recipes, inventive techniques and lush food porn.

Yes, it is entirely a one-sided relationship and I am ok with that…well…that is, until this past weekend.

For Memorial Day, I wanted to make the Chicken Faux Gras again, which is a creamy pate spread made with chicken liver and a very clever play on words (real foie gras is made from expensive duck liver.) Michel Richard describes this as, “Absolutely the creamiest thing on earth. If you don’t tell people what it is, they will think it is Foie Gras and that you are an extravagant host.” The last 2 times that I made this recipe, I had followed the directions exactly. I even measured exactly, timed with a stopwatch and never deviated from HiK one iota. But today, I felt a little mischievous. “Hmmmm…..what if I added shitake mushrooms, chopped parsley and Cognac?” Of course, I didn’t say this too loudly and I quickly put HiK back on the shelf and snuck into the kitchen.

Yes. I cheated….and the faux gras tasted SO good. I will continue to cheat on HiK and feel absolutely no guilt

I showered my fling with praise, affection and a Perfect Loaf of French Bread French Bread.

At 1:30am, I even tiptoed to the kitchen for a quickie sneaky snack. The best part??…my husband even watched!

Faux Gras with Shitake and Cognac

Secrets to this dish:

1. Truth be told, this Faux Gras is creamy, rich and addictive….but it doesn’t replicate the silky, fattiness of the real Foie Gras.  It is a GREAT substitute (and affordable – $4 ingredients vs. $70 a pound) and I feel better eating this than thinking about the horrible things that Foie Gras producers do to the geese and ducks.

2. When cleaning the livers, remove the dark bloody spots and the white, thin connective membrane. Notice that I didn’t have any photos of prep work. This is because raw liver is not pleasant to look at. Just remember not to lick your fingers, ya know?!

3. While I enjoyed the creamy smooth original version, I was really yearning for a little more texture and flavor, thus I added Cognac and finely chopped Shitake. If I had truffles, I would have used those. But I don’t and I can only dream about it. Don’t have Shitake? Use a different mushroom. 4. This really was an easy recipe. It only took 30 minutes of real work in the kitchen, but several hours to chill. You can spend $8 for a small 5 oz. slice of pate at your gourmet grocer or $3 in chicken livers and mushrooms to make it yourself and feed a party of 20.

Parsley Gelee

I’d suggest not skipping the gelee – the cucumber water is refreshing and delightful. I am sure to find other interesting uses for the cucumber gelee.


Faux Gras with Shitake and Cognac Recipe

Servings: Prep Time: Cook Time:
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Inspired by Happy in the Kitchen. You can make this up to 3 days before serving. You'll need several hours to chill and set the pate, so its best to do it the evening before or early in the day. Makes 4 small 1-cup ramekins or 1 terrine.


The Pate
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature (16oz)
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, smushed with a garlic press or grated with microplane grater
1/2 cup heavy cream 1 pound chicken livers, rinsed and any dark spots removed (I also remove the stringy connective membrane)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 2 teaspoons kosher salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely diced shitake mushrooms (1/4" cube or smaller)
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley 2 tablespoons Cognac
The Parsley Gelee
1/2 English cucumber cut into 2" pieces
1 teaspoon gelatin
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
1-2 drops Tabasco sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons minced Italian parsley


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

1. Saute the Mushrooms: In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the shitake mushrooms and saute for 1 minute, until soft and cooked through. Add chopped parsley. Add Cognac and let simmer for 30 seconds. Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside.

2. Cook the Onion: Wash the saucepan and put back on stove. Add 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat. When the butter starts bubbling, turn the heat down to low and add the onions. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be soft and translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Saute until garlic is fragrant. Add the cream and bring to simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add all of the remaining butter. Stir until melted. Turn off the heat.

3. Puree the Liver: Put livers in a blender. Pulse a few times until the liver becomes a little smoother. Add the onion mixture. Puree on high for 2 minutes until the mousse becomes pale color and totally smooth. Strain the mixture, using the back of a spoon to push through. You should have about 3 cups strained mousse. If you don't have that much, put the solids back in the blender and puree again.

4. Bake the Pate: Add the shitake/cognac mixture into the strained mixture. Stir to incorporate the mushrooms evenly throughout the mousse. Pour into 4 1-cup ramekin dishes. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a large deep baking dish. Make sure the bowls don't touch each other. Carefully pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate to chill. Once it is chilled, you can prepare the gelee.

Now its time to make the Gelee. I did not deviate too much from HiK on this portion.

Parsley Gelee

1. Place cucumber in food processor and process until liquefied. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer (or alternatively you can put it in a double thickness cheesecloth and squeeze). You should end up with 1/2 cup of cucumber water.

2. In microwave bowl, combine gelatin and 1/4 cup of cucumber water. Microwave this to just melt the gelatin - but do not allow to boil. Stir. Add lemon juice, sugar, salt and Tabasco and the remaining cucumber water into the bowl. Add the parsley, a tablespoon at a time until the gelee is dense with parsley but the green of the cucumber water is still visable.

3. Remove Faux Gras from refrigerator. Spoon 2 tablespoons of gelee on top of each ramekin. Refrigerator until gelee is set, about 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. The Gelee adds a beautiful green contrast to the pate and serves to keep air from touching the Faux Gras (which would oxidize and turn the pate grayish).

**Want other recipes from Happy in the Kitchen? Serious Eats has them.
**Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie also made Faux Gras
**In Good Taste Store has a review of the book
**In case you’re stuck in the desert, you can make Ari’s pita bread to along with this **hmmm…maybe next time I make this I’ll make a cranberry gelee instead of cucumber/parsley
**Smear it in a sandwich between 2 waffles a la Brilynn
**Sliced with Molasses gingerbread with candied ginger from La Tartine Gourmande
**or…next time I just make the pate without the gelee and sear them just like I would the real Foie Gras….make a deep, dark cherry-chocolate reduction and maybe it would taste just like the real thing?
**Cookthink just inspired me to make this with my leftover Faux Gras (instead of the pork loin)

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Comments 29

  1. Marvin

    Very naughty Jaden. Well, at least you didn’t have more than one book open at once–that would have been floozie-like;)

    I once saw Ruth Reichl make a Faux Gras on PBS (Diary of a Foodie) some time ago from chicken livers. But that gelee you made looks like a tasty finishing touch.

  2. Rasa Malaysia

    I haven’t acquired the liking for liver, faux gras, pate, and those sorts of food. I tried but didn’t fancy the flavor…perhaps I still think of them as “organ” of animals. LOL!

  3. wokandspoon

    Hiya, thanks for dropping by my blog. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of fois gras (or faux gras) but your dish looks like a work of art!

  4. tigerfish

    The only time I tasted chicken liver is how they are served(sometimes) with Hainanese chicken rice, as side dishes – platter of chicken liver, gizzard. I’m not a fan of these but always prefer the gizzard to the liver, maybe coz of the “crunch”. Hey, with this foie gras or faux gras..you could never need a $190 dinner again 😀

  5. mrshbt

    Dear Jan,

    I like the cucumber gelee topping. This creamy pate will be good to serve in a party as an Hordeouves with an assortment of crackers. So, Faux Gras is liver pate? This is an elegant inexpensive dish with a fancy name.

  6. SteamyKitchen

    Marvin- naughty girls always eat good!

    RM- oooohhh…I LOVE organ meats! All those years growing up of just eating whatever my mom put in front of me….good thing I never really questioned what they were until I grew up.

    Wok & Spoon- Thank you!

    Sim- Hmmm….maybe not so much as you think. Maybe if someone served it to you without telling you what it is you might like it!! haha! now you’ll never come to visit me!

    Tiger- I actually like Gizzard more than liver. I like the crunch! LOL

    MrsHBT-Actually Foie Gras is really expensive duck liver. So “Faux Gras” is a play on words – and uses chicken liver instead.

  7. Melinda

    I love pate. I prefer the smoooth pate to rough chopped ones. My favorite is duck pate with orange and champagne.
    I have only ever bought my pate and haven’t made my own. So I must try Hik man’s recipe. Thanks for sharing him.

  8. ulterior epicure

    Jaden: Your recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter, but I only see you using 3 tablespoons in the pate recipe: 1 tbsp for the mushrooms and 2 tbsps for the onion. Where’s the rest of that going?

  9. MeltingWok

    I think I need to get my butt to the kitchen and pop a couple of the chicken pate cans I bought months ago 🙁 I usually spread the regular pates over some vietnamese sandwiches with pickled dikon, jalapenos, loads of mayo and some crunchy pig ears and meatloaf hehe 🙂 Gotta give this homemade version a shot sometime, thx !:)

  10. SteamyKitchen

    Anh- thank you!

    Mrs. HBT- duck liver tastes much better BUT they do horrible things to the duck to make their livers enlarged. So while I LOVE foie gras, I really feel much better eating this. At least they don’t torture the chickens just for their livers.

    Melinda- please try! HiK will make a good lover for you!

    Ulterior Epicure- look in step 2, you add the rest of the butter in during that step. I just double-cked HiK and the butter measurements are all correct.

    MW- I wish I had some crunchy pig ears right now!!! Banh mi?

  11. Amy

    Yum I am loving this recipe. My favorite sandwich is pate on a a baguette with some dijon and cornichons. Oh so good. I have a few chicken livers in the fridge so I’ll make a smaller version of this recipe.

  12. shuna fish lydon

    the photo is exquisite. what a seductive green. but why don’t you use an extractor on the cucumber? like a champion juicer. less work, more joice, more pure juice…

  13. Cate O'Malley

    Mmmm, love pate and foie gras. Might just need to take a whack at this, though the thought of playing with chicken livers is going to be a challenge.

  14. Derek


    Where can I get dim sum in Sarasota. Can you please email me if you know of a place worthy of a visit. Thanks.

    [email protected]

    p.s. nice website!


  15. argus

    Oh, I love foie gras! Is there a difference in taste between goose liver and duck liver? (I share your feeling bad about how they fatten up ducks for their livers.)

    Will have to try your splendid recipe one of these days, even though it looks pretty forbiddingly multi-stepped.

  16. karen b


    I was happy to see your faux gras riff on Michel Richard’s reccipe, and am going to try it soon. I love foie gras, but like you, can’t bring myself to eat it anymore.

    But your post got me wondering: if the duck isn’t force-fed and the rest of it is eaten for meat, couldn’t you just use the regular liver? I know it would be horribly expensive and that French purists would balk, but I don’t know what the taste difference would be.

    Any guesses?

    (Thanks for your website–there’s great stuff in here!)


  17. SteamyKitchen

    Hi Karen- you could certainly use the duck liver, but I’m guessing that it would be difficult to find in a bulk pack of just livers! Most supermarkets or butchers will have chicken livers that they will sell by the pound. Let me know if you find duck liver by the pound. Chicken liver isn’t as fatty and rich, but its a great substitute and I bet you’d enjoy it!

  18. Rebecca

    Oh my God, this was absolutely amazing!!! We raise our own chickens, so we had wonderful fresh liver to use! I used portabellas instead of shiitakes, (that’s what I had on hand) and I used red wine instead of cognac and I also threw in black truffles! It was amazing! We couldn’t even wait for it to cool or for the gelee, so we devoured it warm from the oven! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  19. Terry

    This recipe sounds great. I am going to try it as an hors d’oeuvre for Thanksgiving. Do you think it would work if I lined a small aluminum loan pan with “Release” (non stick) aluminum foil? I should be able to lift it out and the presentation would look more authentic, ie, more foie gras.
    Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

  20. Pete

    This reads like it will be delicious, but there’s an inconsistency: TWO sticks of butter is NOT 16 oz. So… which is it ? If I had to guess, I’d go with 8 oz.

  21. Allan

    I doctored this recipe up a bit. I substituted an equal weight of rendered duck fat for the remaining butter after sautéing mushrooms. I also added 2 teaspoons of black truffle oil to the mushroom mixture. This was absolutely exquisite. What makes real foie gras so tasty is its high fat content. Adding butter or duck fat to the puréed chicken livers brings the fact content up to the same as the force-fed foie gras. Of course, this also brings the calorie count up equivalent. Now if I could only find some black mushrooms so that they look like truffles it would be the perfect inexpensive fake pate.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Try earthydelights.com – they always have great mushrooms on sale. If you add a few drops of balsamic vinegar to your mushrooms, they’ll turn really dark – plus the aged balsamic gives another flavor dimension to the mushrooms.

  22. Larry

    8 oz of butter is correct, not 16.

    Pretty tasty stuff. I too substituded duck fat for 3/4 of the butter. Cooked it sous vide at 150degF while I was at work. Came out great.

    I may use a bit more mushrooms next time, or use a pinch of truffle salt in place of some of the salt.

    I wish recipes writers would include weight measures along with volumes (hint hint).

    Thanks Jaden.

    1. Gary

      Larry, how long did you sous vide the liver mixture? How did you submerge it in water? Thanks!
      Jaden, will try this recipe this weekend. Am excited!

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