Foie Gras Torchon

During the summer months we use foie gras as much as we can. I have made torchons and I have simply cut thick slices and seared them in a hot pan and drizzled them with balsamic or a sweet soy and enjoyed it with a spoon. It took me a few years of culinary school and a couple of restaurants to really appreciate foie and its flavor. The most important thing to remember when eating foie, are the accompaniments, if they don’t pair well then it can be hard to enjoy.

When making a torchon I will usually stick to a “B” grade liver.  The difference between the grades are as follows.

Grade “A”, from france, is the best foie that you can buy, it will be nice and plump and will have no veins in the center.  France has set strict regulations for the production of foie that are not in place in the states which allows them to have a more consistent product.  Grade “A” is best for slicing and cooking in a hot pan.

Grade “B”, will be smaller in size and they do have a significant amount of veins that need to be cleaned out before any other processing is down.  They will have some minor blemishes and it will be slightly darker in color than grade “A”.  When cooked it will also release more fat than grade”A” but can be equally as good in flavor.

Grade “C”, is usually hard to find as it is turned into pates and mousses.  A lot of blemishes and visible veins that need to be cleaned before use.

For the longest time I felt that making the torchon was difficult but only because I did not understand the process and the techniques that were involved. I have successfully made two different types of torchons from two different sources. The first was from The Modernist Cuisine books, and the second was from Michael Ruhlman. I will use a mix of both to achieve the product that I am looking for.

Foie Torchon

820g/1.8#  Foie Gras

2.5g/.08oz  Pink Salt

16g/.56oz  Gewürztraminer

4g/.14oz  Brandy

15g/.53oz  Salt

Day 1

  • The Foie that we buy comes frozen and vacuum packed, frozen duck liver is the best product to buy, the longer that they are out of the duck the more it breaks down and begins to get grainy, so it is important to make sure that the Foie is of high quality.  Remove the foie from the bag and let it sit out for an hour, this will make it more pliable and easier to remove the veins.
  • Once it has softened up, separate the lobes and place the smoother side down and the exposed veins facing up.  The main set of veins will be connecting the larger lobe to the smaller, as shown below.

  • Once the lobes are separated and using the back of a pairing knife, scrape the foie near the veins and follow them until they end.  You may need to make small incisions to continue following the veins throughout the lobes.  If the foie is warm enough you can usually pull the veins out or through the foie.
  • Once the veins are removed, scrape the red spots/streaks on the foie from the veins with the back of a pairing knife just to remove any blood.

Veins removed and the liver is ready to be cleaned further.

  • At this point you may have multiple pieces, which is okay, place the foie in a pan and submerge in cold water.  Place the pan of foie in the fridge for 24-36 hours.  The cold water will remove any other spots of blood in the liver.

Day 2

The liver soaking in a pan of water and covered with a piece of plastic.

  • After 36 hours you can remove the foie from the water and pat it dry.  You will notice how clean and it looks and how solid the color is.

  • Place the liver on a rack to air dry while you mix the remaining ingredients in the recipe to create your cure.
  • Once all of you pieces of liver are dried place them in a vacuum bag and add your cure.  Seal the foie and refrigerate for 12 hours, I did mine overnight.
  • If you do not have a foodsaver or a way to vacuum seal the foie then just place it in a Ziploc and be sure to flip it over every few hours to ensure that the cure hits the whole liver.

Vacuum sealed liver with cure.

Day 3

  • The following day, remove the liver from the bag and pat dry.  Place the foie on a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and let it warm up for an hour to make it more pliable.
  • Once warmed assemble the pieces, on the parchment or plastic wrap, into a rough cylinder and roll the foie in the parchment or plastic.  Grab the loose ends and roll the foie to tighten the cylinder, set aside and prepare pieces of cheesecloth approximately 12″ by 24″.
  • Unwrap the foie from the parchment or plastic and place it on the end of the cheesecloth closest to you.  The foie may not stick in its roulade shape but try to move it carefully and you may need to put some of the pieces back in place.
  • Roll the foie in the cheesecloth, to do this keep your ring and pinky fingers on the side while using your index finger and thumb to roll the foie.  Once you are at the other end of the cheesecloth pinch the side and roll the foie on the table to compress it towards the center.

Foie rolled on the table to force the liver to the middle and to create a uniform cylinder.

  • You will notice that the end of the cheesecloth twisted over itself on the left, this will help keep it tight while you tie the ends.  Using a long piece of butchers twine, tie one end of the cheesecloth and  then pinch the other end to force the liver to compact.  Tie the rest of the liver like you would tie a roast.

Pinching the liver towards the tied end of the cheesecloth.

Tying the liver like a roast.

  • Once you are at the other end, wrap the twine around your hand as shown below.  Wrap the twine around the other end of the liver, moving the twine closer towards the liver each time around.

The twine was wrapped around the cheesecloth multiple times towards the liver to ensure it is nice and compact.

  • Now that the liver is wrapped nice and tight put a pot of water large enough to hold the foie on the stove and bring it to a simmer.  While waiting for the water, prepare an ice bath to shock the liver in after poaching it.

  • Once the water is at a simmer carefully place the liver in it and poach for 90 seconds.  This 90 seconds will melt the fat and fill in the gaps in the middle of the torchon.

  • Carefully remove the foie from the simmering water and shock in the ice bath.  Leave it here for 5-10 minutes then remove and pat dry, leave the foie wrapped in the cheesecloth.
  • Cut another piece of cheesecloth the same size as before and place the foie on the far end, about 3/4 of the way down.
  • Fold the remaining piece of cheesecloth, on the far end, over the foie.

  • Using a square plate, or anything stiff and straight like a wood board, place the edge under the foie.

  • Using your other hand pull on the cheesecloth closest to you, this will tighten the liver in the cheesecloth.  You will notice some of the fat coming through the cheesecloth, this is good.

  • Roll in the remaining cheesecloth and tie both ends leaving a loop in one.  Hang the liver in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Day 4

  • Remove the foie from the refrigerator and the cheesecloth, slice thin and enjoy on toasted brioche.

The plate at the top of this post can also be seen here.

7 comments

  1. Foie gras is my absolute favorite dish. I love mine seared. It’s too bad they banned it in California. I’ll have to search for it when I’m traveling outside of CA. Gorgeous picture, by the way.

  2. I’m thinking of trying this out. I still feel like I’m missing the point though. A foie gras torchon is a slightly cured and tube shaped version of the original ingredient? I understand deveining it, and possibly the curing of it to infuse some extra flavor, is the final goal to reshape the foie gras into a nice sliceable tube?

    1. You are correct about what it is, the whole idea is to be able to use this as a piece of charcuterie, you would eat this version of foie cold. Of course slicing a piece of the lobe off and pan frying it in its own fat is probably the best way to enjoy it, this is just another classic way to prepare it. If you use a lot of foie gras this is is a good technique to know, you can save all of your scrap and do the same thing, granted you would need to have the scrap from six or seven lobes, you could still do this to utilizes the other pieces. Also try experimenting with different wines and herbs in the cure to infuse other flavors to pair with ingredients that you have in the kitchen.

      I hope this helped.

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