With a sharp knife, split the vanilla beans and
scrape off the powdery stuff into a bowl. Leave the skin off. Add
the egg yolks and the sugar. Combine with a whip or a fork until
well-mixed. Then add the cream and the milk.
Pour into 12 china ramequins, ideally 12-15 cm in
diameter. The liquid layer should be no thicker than 1 cm.
Transfer to the oven for 60 to 75 mn. The cream must NOT boil.
Check under seismological control when CB is ready. Gently hit the
stove every 5 mn. There is a point at which the wavelength and
velocity of the ripples in the ramequin increase. At this point,
take the CB out of the stove, let it cool, then transfer to the
fridge after covering with film (saran wrap). You can keep for
Before you serve (the CB must be eaten cold), sprinkle brown sugar just enough to cover the surface. Get a blow torch (yes) and swiftly scorch the sugar in the blue flame until it melts and turns brown and bubbles gently. The grill would not do it as the trick is a contrast between the cold creamy substance and the bitter vitreous sugary surface. Of course, the blow torch should be trotted out on the dining table right next to the silverware to rejoice the company.
Acknowledgments:Receipe from Christian Germanaz, a skillful climber and astute cook. This project was funded by neither NSF nor CNRS. And for once I can get something published without the reviewers breathing on my neck, please leave me alone.
Terrine de Foie Gras (Fat Duck Liver)
(plagiarized after J. Robuchon*)
More than twenty centuries ago, the
Egyptians then the Romans had already observed that geese
overfeed themselves before the migrations and that a bird
killed at that stage would carry a particularly fat liver that
makes a delicious meal. They thought that overfeeding would be
best achieved with the food naturally chosen by the animals,
figs, and that is how the organ liver became know under its
Latin name of fica, since the Romans believed that the
fruit passes its shape to the organ. The vast majority of
French ducks and geese are bred in free-range farmlands. They
are fed with high-quality grains. It is true that most of them
would rather skip the end of the meal when they are force-fed.
You should, however, watch them getting all worked up right
before food time to convince yourself that these 'tortured'
animals are looking forward to the upcoming meal.
Remember: Contrary to humans
and in particular the female top-model variety, birds have no
laryngeal spasm (gag reflex), so when they are overfed, sure
they are not happy, but this is not the torture described in
the 'humane' literature.
No commercial foie gras comes even close to a home-made terrine. The 'four-spices' recipe of Joël Robuchon beats anything I have ever tasted. One of the ultimate dishes on Earth.
Toasted bred and sweet white wine (Sauternes, Gewurtztraminer) are great companions.
* Patricia Wells, Simply French, William Morrow, 1991.
** You may want to keep the excess fat to sauté firm potatoes cut in cubelets (a la sarladaise).