What Is Foie Gras?

What is foie gras?
Pan-seared foie gras with red onion relish. Steven Morris Photography / Getty Images

Foie gras (pronounced "fwah-grah") is the liver of a duck or goose that has been enlarged through a special feeding technique and then served in pâtés, terrines (see also: Forcemeat) or as a hot entree or main ingredient.

Foie gras is considered a luxury or delicacy item, and is extremely fatty, with a rich flavor and smooth texture. It melts easily, so while it is often prepared with high heat, such as pan-seared, cooking it this way can be tricky.

Of the two types of foie gras, goose foie gras (foie gras d'oie) is considered the more refined, with a milder flavor. Duck foie gras (foie gras de canard) can have a somewhat more gamy flavor, though it is slightly less fatty and thus better suited for high-heat cooking.​

Foie Gras Controversy: The technique used to fatten the goose or duck livers, known as gavage, is controversial because it is essentially a form of force-feeding, which is seen as a type of animal cruelty that goes beyond merely raising the animals to be slaughtered for food.

The culinary community is somewhat divided on the issue, with some chefs refusing to serve foie gras. Foie gras producers argue that it is possible to perform gavage in a humane manner.