British government asks chefs for vegan recipes to replace foie gras | Food
It’s prized for its rich flavor and exclusive image by top restaurants and foodies, but now foie gras is going vegan as the government meets with chefs to discuss how to make alternatives from nuts and mushrooms.
Vegan restaurateurs have been invited to meet with UK government advisers to discuss how to create plant-based ‘fake fat’ in the event of an upcoming ban, the Guardian has learned. Sources said the government was hoping to show that a market vacuum left by a restriction on trade in the controversial product could be filled by high-end chefs who are ready to produce alternatives.
MPs have vowed to ban trade in foie gras, and the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting on legislation to ban the sale and import of the spread made from of liver.
The production of foie gras is illegal in the UK on the grounds of animal cruelty, as the ducks and geese whose livers are harvested are force-fed to do so. However, the best restaurants still import and sell from countries like France.
The process of force-feeding is known as force-feeding, where the grain is poured into a funnel or tube that has been pushed into the bird’s neck. After two weeks, the liver swelled to several times its normal size.
French chef Alexis Gauthier, who runs gourmet restaurant Gauthier Soho and herbal restaurant 123V in Bond Street, both in London, decided to stop serving foie gras at his establishments after activists in Peta had manifested outside and inquired about the meat. and trade in dairy products.
He now serves faux gras at his Soho restaurant made from mushrooms, lentils, nuts and brandy, and says the concoction mimicked the buttery taste that foie gras fans crave. As of this year, all the food served in its restaurants is of plant origin.
The government asked him for his recipe and invited him to speak with political advisers to see if a market gap caused by a ban could be filled by its creation.
An email to vegan chefs, seen by The Guardian, says, “I understand your restaurant serves a foie gras alternative. We would appreciate the chance to arrange a virtual meeting with the chef or someone else on the team to discuss some issues in this area. These would be questions about your perspective on foie gras and the challenges and opportunities associated with “ethical” alternatives.
Gauthier says foie gras was once one of the top-selling items on his menu and sold 20kg of it a week, but says people now travel from across the country to try his faux gras. He said it takes patience and precision to mimic the texture, appearance and depth of delicacy in a vegan version.
Many luxury stores and restaurants are turning their backs on foie gras, including Fortnum & Mason, which stopped selling it earlier this year.
A government spokesperson confirmed that officials are looking to meet with those involved in the creation of fake fat to inform their decision on how the effects of a ban might be mitigated.
Alexis Gauthier’s vegan faux fat recipe
1 shallot, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of chopped rosemary
2 tsp of chopped thyme
2 teaspoons of chopped sage
24 button mushrooms, roughly sliced
2 tablespoons of cognac
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
400g cooked lentils
150g of toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons of beetroot puree
Black pepper, to taste
In a heavy-bottomed pan, brown the shallot in two tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic, chopped herbs and mushrooms. Add the cognac and turn up the heat.
Add soy sauce, reduce heat and cook over low heat for six minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
In a food processor, combine the mushroom mixture, remaining olive oil, lentils, walnuts, beetroot puree and black pepper until almost smooth. Add an extra touch of optional cognac to give it that I do not know what.
Place in a small glass jar and refrigerate a few hours before serving. Serve with slices of sourdough bread or other toast.