Gallery: The Food Lab: How To Make a Foie Gras Torchon (Secret Technique Inside!)

Foie Torchon
Foie Torchon
One of the pinnacles of Western cuisine. Cured foie gras, rolled into a cylinder and sliced.
Step 1: Make your Cure
Step 1: Make your Cure
Make a cure by combining 75 grams of salt, 25 grams of sugar, 12.5 grams of pink salt (optional), and 10 grams of pepper. This will make more cure than you need, but it's a good way to make sure that your seasoning proportions are on-point.
Step 2: Grind
Step 2: Grind
Grind the cure into a fine powder for even application.
Step 3: Calculate
Step 3: Calculate
After adding up percentages for all ingredients, you find that you need around 2.5% curing mix by weight for your foie. Calculate exactly how much you'll need for the foie you have, and weight it out. For example, for a 500 gram piece, you'll need 12.5 grams of cure (500 grams x 2.5%)
Step 4: Rest Your Foie
Step 4: Rest Your Foie
To devein foie, it needs to be soft. Pull it out of the fridge and let it rest for about 45 minutes at room temperature.
Step 5: Split Lobes
Step 5: Split Lobes
A single liver contains a large lobe and a small love. Split the foie in half by pulling these two lobes apart.
Step 6: Reveal the Vein
Step 6: Reveal the Vein
There's a major vein that runs down the center of the foie. Reveal this vein by gently butterflying with a metal offset spatula, being careful not to rupture it. Rupturing it releases blood which can stain your foie.
Step 7: Continue Revealing
Step 7: Continue Revealing
Continue following the vein down, opening the foie as you go. Do not worry if the foie gets a little mangled. It's better to remove the veins than to try and keep the foie intact.
Step 8: Pull the Veins
Step 8: Pull the Veins
Use tweezers to carefully remove every vein you find. This is a painstaking process. Time consuming, but simple.
Step 9: Smooth And Search
Step 9: Smooth And Search
Use your offset spatula to smooth and push the surface of the foie around, picking out any small veins you may reveal in the process.
Leftovers
Leftovers
You should end up with quite a pile of veins and blood-stained foie.
Step 10: Shape
Step 10: Shape
After both lobes have been cleaned, let them chill in the fridge for a fe minutes, then lay them out on a triple layer of plastic wrap with their outside-membrane-side-down. Push them around, using your hands to shape the foie into a rough square with an even thickness throughout.
Step 11: Season
Step 11: Season
Use a fine mesh strainer to spread half of your seasoning mix in an even dusting over the top surface.
Step 12: Cover
Step 12: Cover
Lay a single sheet of plastic wrap over the top surface.
Step 13:  Flip
Step 13: Flip
Flip the foie over, then peel off the top triple layer of plastic to reveal the second side.
Step 14: Season and Re-Flip
Step 14: Season and Re-Flip
Season the second side, sprinkle it with cognac (or another booze of your choice), flip it back over again, and sprinkle the first side with booze. Your foie should now be back in its original position, but with both sides seasoned with seasoning mix and booze.
Step 15: Transfer to Sushi Mat
Step 15: Transfer to Sushi Mat
Transfer the foie, plastic and all, to a bamboo sushi-rolling mat.
Step 16: Fold the Plastic Under
Step 16: Fold the Plastic Under
Fold the leading edge of the plastic underneath the sushi mat.
Step 17: Start Rolling
Step 17: Start Rolling
Start rolling the foie away from you, pulling back tightly on the bamboo mat as you go to get a good tight, even cylinder.
Step 18: Continue Rolling
Step 18: Continue Rolling
Keep going until you have the entire thing wrapped, then retighten.
Done
Done
Rolled, ready to wrap.
Step 19:  Unwrap
Step 19: Unwrap
Remove the plastic wrap, but don't try and lift the foie!
Step 20: Transfer to Cheesecloth
Step 20: Transfer to Cheesecloth
Lay out a quadruple layer of cheesecloth a few inches wider than the torchon, and at least a couple feet long. Lift the torchon using the plastic wrap and gently roll it onto the cheesecloth, a few inches from the bottom edge.
Step 21: Start to Roll
Step 21: Start to Roll
Start to roll the cheesecloth, keeping it tight and even as you go.
Step 22: Finish Rolling
Step 22: Finish Rolling
Keep rolling until the cheesecloth is completely covering the foie in several layers.
Step 23: Twist End
Step 23: Twist End
Twist one end of the cheesecloth and...
Step 24: Tie Shut
Step 24: Tie Shut
... tie it secure with a short piece of twine. Make sure this knot is VERY tight.
Step 25: Tighten Opposite End
Step 25: Tighten Opposite End
Tie a much longer piece of twine around the other end, then slowly wrap it around the cheesecloth, winding it inwards so that it forces the foie into a tighter and tighter cylinder.
Step 26: Tie it off
Step 26: Tie it off
Keep going until fat starts to appear oozing through the cloth and it has the texture of a soft bike tire.
Ready to Hang
Ready to Hang
Your foie torchon, ready to chill and cure for a few days.
Step 27: Hang it Up
Step 27: Hang it Up
Hang your torchon from a rack in your refrigerator. This hanging will help it keep its nice cylindrical shape. Let it rest like this for at least a day and up to three.
Step 28: Poach
Step 28: Poach
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then shut it off and allow it to cool slightly. Poach your foie for about two minutes. This doesn't actually cook the foie through to the center, but it softens it and releases any air bubbles.
Not too Hot!
Not too Hot!
It won'd heat enough to cook through in this time. That's ok.
Step 29: Ice it Down
Step 29: Ice it Down
Transfer your foie to a cold ice bath to stop it from leaking fat excessively.
Step 30: Dry it
Step 30: Dry it
Roll the torchon up in paper towels to dry off excess water.
Step 31: Re-Tighten it
Step 31: Re-Tighten it
Tighten both ends with more kitchen twine, using the same method. This time, the entire thing should show signs of fat starting to ooze out.
Step 32: Cure Again
Step 32: Cure Again
Hang it up again, let it rest until chilled (or up to a few days), and you're ready to slice and serve.
Step 33: Trim Ends
Step 33: Trim Ends
I find it much easier to simply cut the ends off, cheesecloth and all, rather than trying to unwrap it first.
Step 34: Unwrap
Step 34: Unwrap
Once the ends are off, unwrap the cylindrical center portion.
Step 35: Proceed Carefully
Step 35: Proceed Carefully
Cheesecloth has a tendency to shed stray strings, so work carefully when you get to the end, making sure to pick out any string attached to the foie.
Step 36: Slice
Step 36: Slice
Use a long, thin knife dipped in warm water to slice through your torchon. Try and get through in one long, even stroke instead of saving back and forth, which can mar its appearance.
Step 37: Punch
Step 37: Punch
Use a biscuit cutter to clean up the oxidized edges of each round.
Step 38: Serve
Step 38: Serve
Serve the torchon at slightly above fridge temperature with bread toasted in butter and dried fruits or jams. Here, I'm serving them with diced prunes that I've soaked in a syrup of equal parts sugar and cognac.