Wednesday Will: Mercutio’s Fois Gras

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Mercutio’s Fois Gras with Sweet Couscous
“Nay, good goose, bite not.” Romeo and Juliet, 2.3

Before opening his now world-renowned restaurant The Mab, Mercutio worked alongside Romeo and Juliet in Verona. He and Romeo were best friends, so much so that Mercutio decided to work for a short spell at The Globe not long after the young couple emigrated from Italy. There, his brilliant juxtapositions of textures and flavors were quickly noticed, prompting local chef and food critic Dryden to note that Shakespeare’s kitchen “show’d the best of its skill in Mercutio.” However, unable to compromise his inventive nature into The Globe’s more structured kitchen, William was forced to dismiss him.

The Ingredients of the Dish:
Couscous
An unlucky goose
A wrong-recipe-ed character on the loose
Fermented berry juice
Anything else that rhymes with, ah, deuce

The Chefs of the Recipe:
Mercutio – Romeo’s friend and colleague
Benvolio – a nice guy from a rich and powerful Verona family
Petrucchio – see The Taming of the Dates in the dessert section

serves a crowded number

Act I, sc. 1

Enter Mercutio and Benvolio

Benvolio: So Romeo’s given himself a pink slip.

Mercutio: And given Verona a different slip while he takes its best pink along with him. His plane leaves tomorrow. So tonight I’m preparing him a farewell dinner.

Benvolio: Will Juliet be there?

Mercutio: Alas, yes. Poor Montague. He’s well cooked – skewered through his ears with her Capuletti love song. A plague o’ both their houses. I will miss him.

Benvolio: So will I. What’re you makin’?

Mercutio: No affected molecular dishes done by any new, lamentable, freeze-drying technique. For the first course I will use my knife to slice a different French liver, a flame to sear it and my queen for the sweet-flavored sauce.

Benvolio: Queen?

Mercutio: Mab.

Benvolio: Mab?

Mercutio: You know, the royal fairy? Key to inspiration, creativity, fusion food…(Benvolio shakes his head)

Bemvolio: Knorr?

Mercutio: Not on my liver! Mab is every chef’s
Midwife, and she comes in a shape that is
No bigger than a nutmeg’s single flake.
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Her wagoner, a small vanilla bean.
In that state she gallops through every
Kitchen, inspiring a new herb to
Use in a soup here, a different meat
In a sauce there –

Enter Petrucchio
Benvolio: Can I help you?
Petrucchio: Uh, sorry, I’m looking for Kate?
Benvolio: (looking at Mercutio) You know any Kates on staff?
Mercutio: Ah, no, no Kates. You must have the wrong recipe. Why not try page 80 or so?
Petrucchio: Oh, ah, sorry. Thanks.

Exit Petrucchio

Mercutio: Tourists. Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah, the fois gras and couscous. I’ll boil the couscous and then pack the cooked flour into a container – I’ll be using these plastic airplane molds that I picked up at a hobby shop this morning. They’re perfect – and then turn it over on the plate. Meanwhile I’ll make a sweet sauce using mixed fruit vinegar, jam, water, and rendered goose fat, and once reduced, dribble it over the plate, liver and couscous.

Benvolio: A Sauterne to drink?

Mercutio: Of course. 2001. A good year. Zounds, look at the time. I’ve got to run to the butchers. Feel like coming’ along?

Benvolio: Sure. Ain’t got much else to do. By the way, how’s the tournament goin’?

Mercutio: You mean the Verona half-court one-on-one? Not bad. I’m in the semis against Tybalt.

Benvolio: Tybalt? Man, he is one tall bad ass.

Mercutio: Nothing I can’t handle…

Exit both. Exit recipe

The real recipe:
Ingredients per person:
A small handful of julienned carrots and celery
1 portion of fresh goose liver
Butter or goose fat
A scallion
Salt & pepper to season
Freshly chopped parsley
Grated orange rind
1 bay leaf
Fruit vinegar
Couscous, 75 grams per person

Begin preparing the couscous. Meanwhile cook the liver in a pan, 2 minutes or so on each side, making sure not to overcook, then set aside before slicing into portions as necessary. In the same pan toss the julienned vegetables a minute or two, then remove. Using goose fat, bay leaf and scallion, make a gravy, strain, and to the remaining liquid add the parsley and grated orange rind. When the couscous is ready, place on one side of the plate, the vegetables on the other. At the last minute pass the goose liver in a different pre-heated pan rapidly, being sure not to overcook. Place beside the vegetables and dribble the sauce over the entire plate. Serve with a Sauterne.

link – if you want to try roasting a whole goose with grapes and garlic (really good eats in Will’s time): http://www.godecookery.com/nboke/nboke22.htm

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