ROUGIE, OVER A CENTURY OF FOIE GRAS
We all know foie gras is this deliciously smooth and tasty duck liver (or goose, if you’re lucky enough to find some), but what makes foie gras so special, so different from any other old liver? Well, read on and find out!
THE SYSTEM: THE GAVAGE METHOD
The key to foie gras production lies within the system of “gavage”. What gavage does is simply replicate a natural technique the birds use prior to migration, where they gorge themselves with food that is stored as fat in their liver. Foie gras producers discovered that by fattening their ducks with a special feed, they could achieve that same smooth and large liver. And voila, foie gras, fattened liver, was born!
THE FOIE GRAS FEED: WHOLESOME CORN
Foie gras producers imitate this system by feeding their foie gras ducks more often than they would naturally in the last few weeks of their rearing, thus making their livers perfectly fat and plump. Foie gras produces feed their ducks a special feed of wholesome corn that goes through a flexible tube down their esophagus; the feeds is stored and digested. Typically, foie gras ducks are fed twice a day, and the feeding lasts between 5-12 seconds. The liver becomes large and smooth and delicious!
FOIE GRAS PRODUCERS
There are several notable foie gras producers in the world, most notably Rougie of France, who is perhaps the largest, and also two great companies in the US (there are four in total): Hudson Valley Foie Gras of New York (the largest in America), and Sonoma Foie Gras, specializing in artisan duck foie gras. Despite their geographical differences, all these foie gras producers have in common that they keep their duck foie gras birds happy and free of cages for the first four months of their lives, and it’s not until the last few weeks when they’re placed in pens for the special feedings. Like this, Rougie and other companies ensure that the animals are healthy and stress free until they’re ready to be fattened.
FROM FARM TO MARKET
When the duck livers are ready, they are removed and the plump foie gras lobes sent to market.Whole duck foie gras and pate are the most common products sold, but most of the foie gras duck is used; the duck breasts become magret, and the duck fat is rendered and sold for cooking. If the duck livers need to be frozen, it is done by a very fast, quick-freezing method that maintains the texture and integrity of the liver, making it just as delicious as fresh foie gras. This is what allows foodies around the world to get their fresh foie gras, no matter where they live!