Monday, August 15, 2011


We have already discussed my 11th hour habits, that cram for exam attitude which has reared it's ugly head often through this Charcutepalooza challenge and made life difficult, though occasionally thrilling, for me.    Though, this time, I almost wonder if it wasn't a purposeful stall that allowed me to miss out on slow cooking a pig head on my stove top, only to be replaced by the still life seen below- starring a luscious foie gras terrine with a supporting cast
of a crisp baguette, coarse sea salt, home-made fig confiture pulled from the pantry, and liquid gold in the form of a lovely Sauternes to wash it down.  

I though long and hard about the challenge to make a head cheese, and figured, if I was going to do it, I would make it with a head.   I mean, if you're going to do it, you really do it, right?   However, I though so long and so hard that I didn't leave time to get the head.   The closest pig head source, I found, was about 300 miles away, and, as always pressed for time, I decided to go to the back up plan by calling D'Artagnan and asking them to ship me a pig head.   It seems a lot of people wanted pig heads last week, though, and they had already allocated their supply.   So, now, using pig's feet sounded like a GREAT idea, but they had promised all the feet to other people, too.  

At this point I mentioned my problem to my husband, casually mentioning that I probably should have just done the Apprentice Challenge, a liver terrine.   "Couldn't" my husband asked, "that be a foie gras terrine?"  That did it!   Given the chance, why would I NOT make one of our favorite things?   And, haven't I been trying to replicate the foie gras terrine that we loved at Thomas Keller's Bouchon. 

One more phone call, and the lobe of foie gras arrived the next day, cozy in it's ice pack.  By the time the foie gras arrives, I have pulled together a recipe "concept" using Thomas Keller's Bouchon recipe as well as several recipe's found on the web.   The foie gras spent first night soaking in a bag of milk.   Next stop, a quick overnight cure in Kosher salt, pink salt, sugar and brandy, and it was ready for me to massacre in an effort to rid the liver of the veins running through it.  

Because of the high fat content, the goose liver will essentially melt into a pool of butter like goose fat when handled, so it's important that it be well chilled, and it is important to work quickly.   And, even when you do all that, it turns into a messy pile of mush.   The good news is that it just as easily can be "put back together again"- one article I read compared it to play dough.  

Next, I lined a small dish with plastic wrap and then pressed the foie gras into the dish and enclosed it in the plastic wrap.   Setting the dish into an ice bath, I did a long slow poach at 200 degrees for 45 minutes.

What came out of the oven was a melted mass of duck liver, luckily still encased in the plastic wrap t keep it from running all over the place.

Lacking the tammis for the next step, I substituted my chinois and push the duck liver through the mesh to lighten the foie gras as well as eliminating any bits of vein left behind earlier.  

Resorting again to an ice bath,  a few rapid beatings smoothed the liver and brought it all together to ready it for the final step.

The entire lobe of foie gras is now pressed into a one cup ramekin ready for serving once it has chilled.

After spending the day in the fridge, we brought it out and indulged in the Sauternes, the baguette and the fig confit with a generous spread of foie gras and a slight sprinkle of sea salt while we made dinner....

Prime Rib Eye steaks, generously (do I use that word a lot when talking about cooking?) coated in coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper (we use a mortar and pestle to grind it to a still coarse texture),  cooked in a cast iron skillet over a high heat.   We like ours rare, so it's generally about 2 minutes on one side to get that crusty sear, flip and cook about 2 minutes on the other side, then flip it back to the first side for another 1 or two minutes.   Remove from the pan to a plate and tent with foil for 20 minutes. 

And then, slather that sucker with a big slice of foie gras.........   What you are missing here is the sound of my moan and giggle as the melting foie gras dibbled down my chin with my first bite.   And my anticipation of left over foie gras snuck from the refrigerator over the next few days.  

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