by Patrick O’Connell

Book Photo093

At his glorious inn in Virginia, Patrick O’Connell incorporates Southern ingredients into his French-inspired cooking. The blackberries, cornmeal, and country ham in this dish evoke some of the traditional flavors of the South. Although foie gras is not a Southern staple, the combination of flavors and textures produces a sophisticated appetizer redolent of Southern hospitality.

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Blackberry Sauce

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallots, bay leaf, and 1 pint of the blackberries. Sweat over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the water, cassis, currant jelly, and stock. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes or until the sauce is the consistency of a light syrup. Remove from the heat, add the thyme leaves and fresh pepper, and set aside, off the heat, for 10 minutes. When cool, strain the sauce. Reserve.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 bay leaf
1 1/2 pints fresh blackberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cassis liquer
2 tablespoons currant jelly
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Black pepper, freshly ground

In a 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the garlic, and bay leaf, and sweat over low heat for 30 seconds. Add the water, milk, and cream, and bring to a simmer. Remove the bay leaf. Whisking constantly, slowly add the cornmeal in a steady stream. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the polenta begins to thicken. Whisk in the cheese and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Line a half sheet pan with plastic wrap and pour the polenta onto the pan. Cover the polenta with plastic wrap and flatten to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then remove and cut into 2-inch squares. Heat the remaining olive oil in a saute pan and cook the squares of polenta until both sides are golden brown. Reserve and keep warm.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1 milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago cheese
Corse salt
Cayenne pepper

Foie Gras
Season each slice of foie gras with salt and pepper. Heat a saute pan over high heat and sear the foie gras for about 30 seconds on each side, or just until a brown crust forms. Remove the slices from the pan and blot on paper towels. Pour off excess fat from the pan and deglaze with 1/2 cup of the black-perry sauce. Stir this misture back into the sauce, and gently add the remaining pint of blackberries.
1 1/2 pounds foie gras, cut into 8 slices, each about 3 ounces and 1/2-inch thick
Coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

2 cups mixed colorful baby lettuces or greens
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
8 very thin slices country ham, trimmed of fat (see Chef Notes)
Fresh chives

Service and Garnish
Toss the greens in a mixing bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place a small bouquet of dressed greens in the center of each of eight warmed serving plates. On top of the greens, place two squares of the crispy polenta. On top of the polenta place a slice of the country ham. On top of the ham, place piece of seared foie gras. Sppon the sauce and the blackberries over the foie gras, and garnish with chives.

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