Chef: Patrick O'Connell


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.


Blackberry Sauce

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 liqueur
2 tablespoons currant jelly
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Black pepper, freshly ground

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.


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

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 sauté pan and cook the squares of polenta until both sides are golden brown. Reserve and keep warm.

Foie Gras

Coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

Season each slice of foie gras with salt and pepper. Heat a sauté 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 blackberry sauce. Stir this mixture 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


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 ham, place piece of seared foie gras. Spoon the sauce and the blackberries over the foie gras, and garnish with chives.

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