Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Lamb’s Lettuce; Christmas Food

Yes, I know that some people (and some governments) are morally, ethically, whatever opposed to foie gras.

There are a lot of things I’m morally and ethically opposed to but foie gras isn’t one of them.

If you are you might want to skip this first part.

Probably the majority of foie gras is sold and eaten as pâté. I like the pâté but I normally find it a bit too rich.

I love it pan-seared.

Be warned, pan-searing will make a mess of your cook top and your clothing. You have to cook it hot and fast (90 seconds tops) or it just disappears. It gives off a lot of fat.

It’s worth it.

An entire foie gras will usually be enough for 4 people.  Try for half, or 1 lobe or plan on having it again.

Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Lamb’s Lettuce

Total time: 10 minutes


  • 4 slices foie gras, 1/2″ (1.25cm) thick
  • 1 tsp good quality sea salt, for finishing
  • lamb’s lettuce, for 2 servings
  • 3 tbs julienned red beets
  • 2 tbs good olive oil
  • 1 tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 – 4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted and cut into quarters

Pan-Seared Foie Gras


  • Clean foie gras (see notes). Slice and chill slices.
  • Make toast. Divide and place on two plates
  • In a medium bowl whisk vinegar, mustard and oil.
  • Add lamb’s lettuce, beets and toss to coat.
  • Divide and add to plates.
  • Everything ready?
  • Heat a large, heavy, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot.  A drop of water should sizzle and evaporate instantly.  
  • Put the foie gras slices in the pan and sear 40 – 50 seconds per side for rare.  If you want it medium-rare cook another 5 – 10 seconds per side.  If you have to have it more done choose something else to have as your starter because you will not like this. 
  • Remove to a paper towel for a second to absorb a bit of fat, sprinkle each side with sea salt and serve.

Now the notes:

Some foie gras needs cleaning. Look at it – if you see veins going through gently pull them out.  It’s easiest to clean the foie gras if it is at room temperature, but it may not need cleaning.  Mine didn’t.

It should be cold before slicing. It’s best to slice it with a hot knife – run sharp knife under hot water.

It has to be cold before searing so refrigerate after slicing for at least 15 minutes. 

Make sure your plates aren’t cold. Rinse them with hot water, then dry well before using.  

After slicing, the leftover foie gras can be made into pate, refrigerated for use within 2 days or frozen for use within 2 months.

Print Recipe

This is part of our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

We follow it with Roast Tenderloin of Beef (we’ve found a good butcher)

Beef Tenderloin

and Potato Mushroom Timbales

Potato Mushroom TimbalesAnd just to keep things healthy, we round out the dinner with a nice Spinach Gratin

Spinach Gratin
When I was a child my mother always did an easy dinner Christmas Eve – chili, sloppy joes, pizza or something similar.

Mon mari and I have always done this (or something similar, in the US it was smoked salmon rather than foie gras).

What do you do for Christmas Eve?

7 thoughts on “Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Lamb’s Lettuce; Christmas Food”

  1. When my girls were little, I got into the habit of having Christmas Eve dinner, though I’m not sure what started it because both my husband’s and my parents came and then got together again in the morning. But I’ve been making the same menu for years now.

    Standing rib roast
    Sauteed mushrooms
    Garden salad

    Simple. Easy. Yummy.

    Then my sister-in-law, who couldn’t pass by a potato of any kind without taking a bite, decided she needs twice baked potatoes. She brings them done but for some reason, it all still turns into a huge production. *wishes you could see my eyes rolling here* And then she needs dessert and I usually just make my great gran’s shortbread recipe for dessert. That and coffee or tea. But she needs to bring cookies and pie and cake…

    And then it’s not so simple or easy anymore…

  2. Xmas falls in the summer here so once the children were old enough we started to have our festive dinner on Xmas Eve. Frequently we then went to friends for lunch on Xmas Day so often the menu took into consideration what I had to contribute the following day. If we were with my parents, Mum and I did the traditional turkey and gammon with all the trimmings followed by Xmas pud etc. If we were camping we would have something like ostrich or a fish braai (barbecue). Consequently now that it is usually just the two of us with all the offspring living in the Northern Hemisphere, we do something special on Xmas Eve and get together with friends on Xmas Day with everyone contributing something but one person co-ordinating the meal. Add a few different cultures into the mix and every Xmas meal now is different!

  3. I see a bit of foie gras on menus here in Marrakech – so many French people here !!! I will have a traditional Christmas Eve with a German family this year. it will be fun and so different from an Aussie Xmas .

  4. We keep Christmas Eve simple, but with a dish we all love: boudin blanc, sautéed apples, and steamed potatoes. Boudin blanc is traditionally a Christmas starter (?) but it seems like a meal for us. We make toasts with foie gras for the champagne apéro, and this year I think I’ll make some sort of smoked salmon verrine as a starter.

    Then Christmas Day we do something a little more American-style — some sort of bird with different vegetable dishes.

    Your meal looks delicious, especially the potato-mushroom timbales!

  5. We don’t have a fixed menu. This year, I’m hoping for cracked Dungeness crab. For Christmas Eve when my Fairy godson will be visiting, I plan to make, of all things, bacon burgers.

  6. nightsmusic, when we lived in the US we did a standing rib roast, yorkshire pudding and asparagus…. Can’t get the rib roast here… well, not easily

    Gill, I can’t imagine doing a turkey in hot weather…. unless it was on the barbecue. That would be good. Most of the people we know around here go back to the UK to be with family. It gets pretty quiet around here LOL

    Kate, a German Christmas for an Aussie in Morocco…. I love it. Let me know if you have roast goose and red cabbage ‘-)

    Betty, I have never gotten into the verrine… even though I bought a little book at Casa for recipes. Maybe next party. I’m doing a turkey tomorrow…. first time here. With American-style dressing.

    Pam, I have to have both the foie gras and smoked salmon at some point during the holidays…. or mon mari would go on strike LOL

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