Merry Christmas, dear readers! I hope you’re all having lovely holidays, wherever you are and whether you celebrate Christmas or not! I’m spending it at home with my family, snuggled up on the sofa reading or watching TV, and spending some time with friends as well. Here’s a glimpse of our Christmas tree, all lit up.
Today, we had a big Christmas lunch, to which I made a humble contribution in the form of a starter. This is really a non-recipe as it involves very little preparation once you have the apple sauce ready, but it was delicious. It disappeared from its platter in record time and since we’ve still got another few days of festive eating ahead of us, I’m sharing it with you in case you’re still looking for a starter for New Year’s Eve – or for Christmas next year!
Pintxos de foie con compota de manzana y granada (Foie gras pintxos with apple compote and pomegranate)
Pintxos are Basque small snacks (they’re sometimes called the Basque form of tapas, but they’re not really tapas at all). They’re delicious little bites often arranged on a slice of bread and often pinned to the bread with a skewer or toothpick. But they also come in all kinds of other shapes and forms, some cold, some hot, simple or sophisticated. They’re elevated to a true art form, and they’re all over the country with bars taking real pride in making them look so pretty you almost don’t want to eat them. Especially in San Sebastián (Donostia), but also in Bilbao, you can spend the whole day just eating your way through the old town from one pintxo bar to the next. The bars are full to the brim with these little creations and I’ve often found myself, mouth agape and watering, with a tough choice to make – even though they’re small, there are only so many you can eat before you’re full.
As pintxos go, this one isn’t sophisticated at all and very quick to make, but it looks and tastes fantastic. In fact, it’s perfect for when you have a complicated menu to cook without much time to spare for the starter. Foie gras is a specialty in some regions of France and in the Basque country, which may be a bit difficult to get elsewhere or very expensive. You can replace it with other types of duck or goose pâté.
Ingredients (for about 15 pintxos)
- 15 very thin salty crackers or 15 very thin slices of baguette, toasted
- 180g foie gras mi-cuit
- apple compote
- pomegranate seeds (a tutorial on de-seeding pomegranates is here)
Cut the foie gras into 15 thin slices. It’s best to do this when the foie is quite cold, but to make the cutting easier you can warm up the blade of your knife a bit. If you’re using baguette, you may want to drizzle it very slightly with olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt on top. Place the foie slices on top of the crackers or baguette. Top with a bit of apple compote each and sprinkle liberally with pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
* Basque for “enjoy your meal”