70 Steps To Foie Gras Torchon

1. Receive a free lobe of foie gras from Mirepoix USA.

2. Post about it on your website.

3. Consider your options. (Option 1: Go as Foie Gras Head to that Halloween party; Option 2: Sear it and serve it; Option 3: Make a torchon from The French Laundry Cookbook.)

4. Decide on Option Two.

5. Meet Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune and ask her what she would do with a lobe of foie gras if she received one in the mail. Hear her say, “I’d make the recipe that appeared last summer in Saveur where you cure it in salt.” [This is the recipe. I think the article’s by her sister.]

6. Decide to make that recipe.

7. Consult Meg who has also received a lobe of foie gras. Let her convince you not to make that recipe, but to make Option 3: the torchon from The French Laundry cookbook. She says, “It’s totally worth it.” She says she’s going to make torchon with hers.

8. Decide to make that recipe.

9. Challenge her to a Torchon Tournament.

9. Begin the process.

10. Unpack the lobe into a container:


11. Cover with milk:


12. Let soak overnight to draw out the blood.

13. The next day: take it out, rinse it off, and cover with a damp towel.


14. Let it come to room temperature for 45 minutes.

15. Separate the lobes:


16. Yummy!

17. It gets better.

18. Begin deveining. Keller says to leave the lobe intact somehow, but this proves impossible. Chop it up and pull out all the veins:


19. Squish it all back into the tupperware in one flat layer:


20. Prepare a mixture of salt, pink salt (nitrates–available by mail, ask Michael Ruhlman), sugar and white pepper:


21. Sprinkle half the mixture over the layer of foie gras. Flip the layer, and sprinkle over the other side.

22. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours:


23. 24 hours later pull off the wrap:


24. Remove foie gras to parchment paper:


25. Shape into a loaf 6 inches long and 3 inches wide:


26. Roll into a log and place at the short end of a piece of cheesecloth:


27. Roll tightly. Tighter! Tighter! Tie the ends!


28. Bring chicken stock to a simmer.

29. Lower the wrapped foie gras into the stock for 90 seconds:


30. Remove to an ice bath:


31. Place on the short end of a dish towel:


32. Torchon MEANS dish towel.

33. Roll up tightly, tie the ends and hang it in the fridge overnight.


34. Next day, invite people over.

35. Make a plan for dinner.

36. Make butternut squash soup from The Bouchon Cookbook:




37. Set the table with seasonal flair.


38. Hear the doorbell.

39. Greet your guests.

40. Thank them for the wine.

41. Tell them to sit.

42. Serve them soup, topped with cream and a fried sage leaf:


43. Make them pose:


44. Serve them salad with farmers market lettuce, Bosc pears, toasted walnuts and bleu cheese:


45. Toast brioche triangles in the oven for 12 minutes:


46. The moment is here.

47. Take the foie gras from the fridge.

48. Unwrap the towel.

49. Capture all this on video (coming soon!)

50. Hear the “ooohs” and “aaaahs.”

51. Pull off the cheesecloth.

52. Slice off the ends.

53. Slice the foie gras into six 3/4-inch slices:


54. Notice that one piece has nasty veins but the rest look good.

55. Give Patty that piece.

56. Place the rest on nice plates with a brioche triangle and sour cherry jam. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve:


57. Sit down and enjoy with the Sauternes you bought yesterday near the movie theater. (A $15 bottle–a steal!)

58. Mmm!

59. The foie gras is rich and flavorful and tastes like the one you had at Per Se oh so many years ago.

60. Pat yourself on the back.

61. Pat Patty on the back.

62. Hear her growl, “Mine has a red eye in it.”

63. Look at all the dishes.

64. Sigh with despair.

65. Realize you have one piece of torchon left over and that you can bribe a reader to do your dishes in exchange for that piece of torchon.

66. Realize that any reader who would do that is probably crazy.

67. Ask Craig to do the dishes.

68. Go to bed.

69. Wonder how Meg’s turned out.

70. Bet mine was better.


28 thoughts on “70 Steps To Foie Gras Torchon”

  1. Except for the nasty vein, beautifully done. You were supposed to cut a slice off and saute it just for the experience and to smoke up your apartment. did you?

  2. Damn, I wish my blog was popular enough to get me a lobe of Foie Gras sent to me.

    The recipe looks really good, and somewhat easy. I am intrigued by the soup. How did it turn out? I made the butternut squash and mushrooms with gnocchi and it was amazing…and also featured the fried sage.

  3. “Keller says to leave the lobe intact somehow, but this proves impossible. Chop it up and pull out all the veins:”

    This is one of the things that separates the pros from the rest of us. In France, even at farm stands in the markets, you find “mi-cuit foie gras entier” for sale, but as these farmers–or their wives–have been at it for years, they don’t count as amateurs in my opinion. And experience tells me there’s no guaranty it will be anywhere as well prepared as that served by Thomas Keller.

  4. Mmmm, foie gras. Although I must admit what had me mot inteested was the sour cherry jam. Where is is from, may I ask?

  5. Looks good, enjoyed the video. I would have to say for a foodie your fridge looks pretty bare :)

    Charlotte, from the video it looks like the jam comes from Stonewall kitchens which can be found at Whole Foods

  6. I’ve never had foie gras, but I’ve always been interested in trying it. Until today. In its unprepared state, its just way too obviously organ-y looking to me.

    On the other hand, i applaud you for all that effort, and to your friends for all gamely trying it.

    And that salad is my favourite salad ever. Whenever I buy blue cheese I eat that salad multiple times a day until the cheese is gone. (If the pears or walnuts are gone – well, I always have apples or peaches or almonds.) Yumm!

  7. I second Jody’s question, what did the milk look like after the overnight soak? But maybe I don’t really want to know… In any case, fantastic post!

  8. So I made the same recipe, and after my overnight soak, the milk was still pretty milky. It didn’t get all bloody, if that’s what you’re wondering.

  9. I definitely don’t want to know what the milk looked like afterward. I was ok until I read that part, then I decided I could NEVER try foie gras. I’m usually up to try anything but then I don’t witness step-by-step preparation. Perhaps I’d be less willing if I knew how more foods are made. Ignorance is bliss, most assuredly.

  10. That looks like a lovely dinner and I admire your patience with the foie gras. But if I may make a suggestion. Next time don’t bother to soak the foie gras in milk. In part becasue you need to keep it’s temperature low to keep from melting the liver, it is not an effective way to remove blood. Rather what you should do is remove the veins. It’s a really tedious step (which, come to think of it, may appeal to you) but it’s the only way to get rid of most of the blood (the rest you can scrape out)and it’ll improve the texture of the final product and save you the trouble of having to floss bits of vein from betwixt your teeth.

  11. Oops! Sorry my friend I reread and saw that you tried to devein but could not. I recommnend taking a look at an anatomy text and learning the vein tree of the human liver -duck livers are not that different- although I assume that the latter tastes a lot better. But then if you make torchon out of the former you won’t piss off PETA, hmmm…

  12. I’m planning on giving this a try for Thanksgiving. Can you please share the measurements for the mixture of salt, pink salt, sugar and white pepper?

    Is the pink salt like Hawaiian sea salt?

  13. you forgot to mention that you should save the poaching liquid for other uses! It’s SO delicious and has that delicate foie flavor suspended in it!! it’s like gold!!

  14. Bravo, Amateur Gourmet. I have often wanted to make a torchon, but never really had the bollocks to do it. I shall follow your lead however and see what I can muster.

  15. Brian, the pink salt refers not to the Hawaiian sea salt but rather TCM, or tinted curing mixture which is salt mixed with sodium nitrite and tinted pink so someone doesn’t eat a handful by accident and get sick/die. It basically protects against spoilage in cured products and preserves the pink color in cooked meats that would otherwise go gray. In this case it’s probably most useful for its “cured” flavor; that flavor you get in pat├ęs and sausages and ham which comes from nitrite, at least in the former two cases.

  16. I happen to be making a torcon of foie gras for a party this weekend and was toling up a bit and ran upon your site. very cleaver , fun and interesting. please come visit me when your in chicago, i’d be happy to cook for you!


  17. Well it is 3 in the morning and I’m just completing my torchon for tomorrow’s (tonights) dinner.

    I suggest searching Liver Anatomy to learn where the veins are. I was actually able to keep the lobe intact for the most part. I found a nice scan image with contrast (I’m a nurse practitioner)online which was valuable. Wish me luck.

  18. Merci mille fois! I have read this kind of recipe in many books and on many sites many times, but the pics and the witty commentary really made it come to life. I am now inspired to try it. Oh, and Happy Bastille Day!

  19. Oh, gawd, seriously??? This is so gross- I mean it’s LIVER for crying out loud!!! And duck liver at that!!! Ducks are so adorable- I had a pet duck growing up. I could never eat one! UGHH- do you know anything about how they fatten up the ducks for foie gras? It is so sad!!! http://www.goveg.com/feat/foie/

    Ewwwww- free or not, it’s disgusting!!! And on top of the grossness, it has nitrate in it!!! Nitrate- one of the worst chemicals you can put in your body!!! Meat eater or vegetarian, why would you want to eat anything with nitrate in it!!! UCK!!! Is there anything like a “mock foie gras” much like your mock chopped liver you wrote about under the last minute Passover entry? Ok… thanks for letting me rant. Baby ducks are seriously cute… don’t eat them when they grow up because well they are still cute:)

  20. I love your site, but I think it is sad you’re promoting a dish that can only be made from a tortured duck. I wish you would consider being cruelty free.

  21. I love your site, but I think it is sad you’re promoting a dish that can only be made from a tortured duck. I wish you would consider being cruelty free.

  22. Foie Gras is not necessarily a food of cruelty!

    I have actually been to a farm that produces foie Gras.The were not in cages. They did not have wounds. They did have acess to a pond, Shelter, and clean grassy surroundings. I do think they clip the wings to stop them from flying away. They are only force fed their last 2-3 weeks and it was done very carefully with a soft plastic tip on the apparatus so as to not harm the animals. It’s in the farmers best interest to take care of the animals-they are an investment of time and money. The farm I saw was in Quebec Canada. Maybe the “Foie Gras labour camps” are all in USA?

  23. I’ve made torchon several times in a professional kitchen under the advisement of a sous chef from the Inn at Little Washington. You do want to soak the foie in milk, but after letting it come to room temperature, you need to force it through a tammy or sieve. While you are doing so, use tweezers to remove any veins you may find. Then continue with withe cheese cloth and towel. Tie it, but also wrap with plastic before hanging it.

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