Plant-Based in 2024

Faux” Gras

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Plan to put more plants on your plate in 2024? It’s a thing. More and more people are catching on to the nutritional benefits and gastronomic diversity of veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Esteemed New York Times food writer Melissa Clark writes that she “wants to become as fluent in tofu as she is in chicken thighs,” in 2024 (1).  

“Innovative plant-based cuisine” is listed on Today’s “6 food and drink trends you’ll be seeing in 2024, according to chefs (2).” A quote from one chef was “’ Plant based products no longer have to look and taste like animal products and can instead be something entirely their own.”’  That idea is echoed by a Whole Foods’ 2024 food trend prediction forecasting “the renaissance of plant-based foods made with real plants.” (3)

Great timing for my version of Faux Gras. Can you replicate the rich, silky decadence of fois gras with a mix of mushrooms, lentils, and nuts?  My taste buds (and fois gras devotees) would say “no.” But… you can make something tasty, in the spirit of fois gras, that is totally plant-based and without the controversy. *

*Fois Gras Controversy: Fois gras, French for “fat liver,” is made by force feeding geese or ducks to grow their livers 10x normal.  It is a process some vegans and animal rights supporters have protested, leading to bans and legal battles over the production and sale of fois gras around the world (4,5).

I’ve been dabbling with “faux” gras for at least 5 years after stumbling upon a recipe by Michelin-star London chef Alexis Gauthier’s Faux Gras (6,7) who teamed up with PETA UK and other plant-centric chefs to create a terrine primarily made with mushrooms, lentils, walnuts, and Cognac.

Chef Steps (8) has an awesome-looking version of vegan faux gras but requires mail ordering two forms of gellan gum along with mushrooms, cashews, coconut oil, brandy, and flavorings.

The California Walnut Board is following the plant-based trend and recently leveraged the affinity of walnuts and legumes with a faux gras recipe similar to Alexix Gauthier’s. Sadly, they didn’t include Cognac (9).

My recipe borrows from (what I think is) the best of these recipes and zeros in on mouth-filling umami ingredients – mushrooms, tomato paste, soy sauce and miso.  Black garlic, which is aged and cured until it becomes black and rich in flavor, is the only ingredient that might not be in your kitchen but can be found at well-stocked stores. Of course, there is Cognac. I knew it was a winner when I had to hide it from my family until I could take the pictures you see here.

Hurray for plant-based recipes that taste like what they’re made from – plants.  

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Faux Gras – My Way

Makes about 2 ¼ cups.

¾ cup raw cashews

4 tablespoons neutral tasting vegetable oil

2 shallots, peeled and diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cognac

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon black garlic cloves

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon miso

1 cup cooked brown lentils

1 cup toasted walnut pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt

  1. Place cashews in a small saucepan and cover with water. Cover, bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour. Drain.
  2. While cashews soak, place a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl in oil. Add shallots and mushrooms and sauté until very tender. Add garlic and thyme and stir for a few seconds, until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons cognac, soy sauce and black garlic; stir for 10 or 15 seconds, to reduce and cook off the harsh alcohol taste. Add tomato paste and stir until it darkens. Remove from heat. Stir in miso. Cool.
  3. In bowl of food processor, combine mushroom mixture, drained cashews, lentils, walnuts and 2 teaspoons cognac. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down side of bowl once or twice. Add a generous amount of black pepper and salt to taste. 
  4. Spoon into a container, cover, and chill for 1 hour or until serving. 
  5. To serve, spoon into a small bowl. Serve with toasted, sliced French bread or crackers, or even crudité.

References

  1. An Easy Tofu Recipe for Any New Year’s Resolution – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
  2. 6 Food and Drink Trends You’ll Be Seeing in 2024 (today.com)
  3. Whole Foods Market Forecasts Top 10 Food Trends for 2024
  4. What Is Foie Gras? (thespruceeats.com)
  5. Animal rights: Supreme Court weighs California foie gras ban appeal (usatoday.com)
  6. Alexis Gauthier’s Faux Gras – PETA UK
  7. Michelin-star chef creates ‘delicious’ vegan foie gras | The Independent | The Independent
  8. Faux Gras   CHEF STEPS https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/vegan-foie-gras-pate
  9. Faux Gras Walnut and Mushroom Pâté – California Walnuts

© 2024 Lorelle Del Matto

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

Comments

  1. I think you are very wise to not try to recreate meat but do something completely new; after all many vegetarians detest the comparison… it is tainted
    You are creating a new dish that stands on it’s own
    Thank you Lorelle looks delicious

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