When I arrived at the Château d’Amondans for a visit in March 2001, Chef Frédéric Médigue wanted me, during my first meal there, to see and taste his new foie gras presentation. At the time, I didn’t realize how truly unique this dish was. Two years later when I learned how to prepare this foie gras, I came to realize that this preparation is truly novel.
Chef Médigue modestly told me that his foie gras de canard sous vide (foie gras under vacuum) is really just a variation of Louis Outhier’s foie gras de canard confit (preserved foie gras), but I disagree. Chef Médigue’s foie gras goes against many of the generally recommended axioms of foie gras preparation, including those of Chef Outhier.
The resulting foie gras, when prepared using Chef Médigue’s method, has a dense, uniform texture and a superb flavor.
Chef Medigue’s presentation of this magnificent foie gras in May of 2003 consisted of four elements. The first and most important was the foie gras, which was identified on the menu as a goutte de foie gras de canard (a drop of duck foie gras). He calls the preparation a “drop” because each slice has the same profile as a drop of liquid.
The foie gras is accompanied by an « espuma » de pomme (apple foam). Espuma is Spanish for “foam.” The apple espuma is reminiscent of a greenish shaving cream, especially since in the original recipe, a small mound of espuma is squirted onto the plate with a gas-charged, commercial cream whipper. For home application, I’ve found that a small, 4-cm wide scoop works almost as well. Also, in the restaurant, only tart, green apples, such as the Granny Smith variety, were used for this preparation. To offset the tartness, some clear, sweet apple juice was added. I’ve found that sweet apples work very well, although the color of the mousse will differ slightly, and it is no longer necessary to add apple juice.
The third item on the plate is a nougatine de noix (candied walnuts). This simple preparation has only two ingredients, sugar and walnuts, and provides a nice counterpoint to the smooth, rich foie gras.
The last element of the dish is the gelée de vin jaune (yellow wine aspic). Vin jaune is a wine produced only in the Jura, the region where the Château d’Amondans is located. The grapes for this wine — the savagnin variety — are harvested late in the year. When the fermentation is complete, the new wine is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 6 years and 3 months without being opened and “topped-off.” As the wine slowly evaporates, a film of yeast is formed on its surface, similar to a fino-style sherry, that allows evaporation while simultaneously protecting it from oxidation. The color becomes bright yellow and the alcohol level reaches 13 or 14 percent. The finished wine has a slightly nutty richness and is reminiscent of sherry. Vin jaune has an in-the-bottle longevity of 50 to 100 years. For the aspic, the wine is simply gelled. If vin jaune is not available, substitute a good quality dry sherry for it in the aspic.
1. The process of cooking foie gras sous vide, under vacuum, was perfected by a chef named George Pralus in the 1980s. He demonstrated that the amount of fat lost during cooking was reduced from between 30 and 35% down to less than 10% when the foie was cooked under vacuum. It is my understanding that his method always involved supporting the foie gras in a rigid container or a towel. With Chef Médigue’s method, the foie gras is supported only by the bag, which also produces its final shape. See Cottenceau, Marcel, Jean-François Deport, and Jean-Pierre Odeau. 1991. The Professional Charcuterie Series. Translated by A. Sterling. 2 vols. Vol. 2. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Original edition, Traité de Charcuterie Artisanale. Pages 162-163.
To prepare 4 servings of the final dish, the following ingredients are required:
To complete the preparation, fill a container large enough to hold the blade of a large knife with boiling water. Place the well-chilled foie gras sous vide on a cutting board. Place the blade in the water for a few seconds to heat it. Wipe the blade dry with a towel. Cutting directly through the plastic bag, slice the foie gras crosswise into 7 to 8-mm thick slices. For each slice, reheat the knife blade in the hot water and wipe it dry with a towel. As each pair of slices is cut, place them on a chilled serving plate with their tips slightly overlapping. If there is too much yellow fat on a slice, carefully remove it before transferring the slice to the serving plate.
Finally, serve each portion with a couple of toasted slices of pain de mie.
© 2003, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.