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:

1 order
1/2 order
8 slices
pain de mie, toasted

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.

Using a small scoop, place a “ball” of mousse on the plate near the points of the foie gras slices.

Next, using a small spoon, scrape a spoonful of gelée off the bottom of its container and place it on the serving plate.

Then, using a small spoon, strew some of the nougatine on each side of the foie gras slices.

Finally, serve each portion with a couple of toasted slices of pain de mie.


© 2003, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.

Foie gras sous vide

frozen duck foie gras, at room temperature
very coarse, freshly ground black pepper
for brine:
1 liter
cold water
125 grams
fine salt
28 grams
salt with 0.6% sodium nitrite

Prepare the brine and set aside in a bowl just large enough to hold the liver.

Remove the foie gras from its package and place it on a clean work surface. Carefully separate the two lobes of the liver. This recipe can be completed with either a single large lobe or two small lobes. If using the large lobe, reserve the smaller lobe for other purposes. If using two small lobes, reserve the large lobes for other purposes.

Place the lobe on the work surface with the smooth side up. Cut a narrow, 5 to 10 mm, band from the long, narrow edge of the liver and set aside. Turn the lobe over so the smooth side is down. Starting with the exposed major duct, at the point where this lobe was joined to the other lobe, use the backside of a paring knife to gently push the liver away from the duct, all the time keeping the blade against the duct. In this manner the whole duct network can be exposed in a single layer. Using the side of the blade, or a finger, gently pull the entire duct from the liver and discard. In the same manner, remove the second duct network lying slightly deeper in the lobe than the first. Place any scraps on the exposed surface of the liver and form it back into a cylindrical shape.

Soak the liver in the brine at room temperature for 90 minutes.

Remove the liver from the brine and drain on absorbent paper. Season generously with very coarse ground black pepper. Place the lobe in a vacuum bag that is just wide enough for it. Also, there should be at least 6 to 8 cm of extra bag at the opening. Draw a vacuum on the bag and seal.

Preheat a bain-marie to 60 °C (140 °F). Place the bag in the bain-marie and cook the liver for about 35 to 45 minutes to bring the internal temperature to 52 °C (125 °F).

Upon removal from the bain-marie, use the edge of a counter or a baking sheet to move all of the liver to the bottom of the bag. Hang the bag by the loose end, over a rod, in a refrigerator until the liver is firm. The bag should hang loose so the liver firms up in a teardrop shape.

Note: If not used in a day or so, the cooked foie gras may be frozen in its bag. Defrost in the refrigerator before cutting.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


© 2003, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.

Mousse de pomme

200 grams
halved, peeled, and cored green apple,
such as Granny Smith (see note below)
50 grams
filtered apple juice
1/4 teaspoon
lemon juice
1/2 to 1 leaf (see note below)
gelatin, soaked in cold water

Place the apple halves in a non-metallic dish and seal with plastic wrap. Microwave on high until the apple is very soft, about 2 minutes. The apple halves can be tested by pressing on them directly through the plastic wrap.

Place the cooked apple along with the juices in a small food processor and puree. Force the puree through a fine sieve or strainer to remove any remaining fibers.

Combine the puree with the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. If the apples have cooled too much, it may be necessary to reheat them slightly in a saucepan over low heat.

Foam the mixture with a stick blender fitted with a foaming blade to loosen and lighten the mixture. Set aside in a refrigerator until cool and set.

Note: If a sweet apple is used instead of a tart one, substitute plain water for the apple juice called for in the recipe.

Note: The amount of gelatin required to sufficiently firm up the applesauce will vary with the apples used. If the mixture doesn’t gel sufficiently, reheat the mixture slightly and mix in an additional half leaf of presoaked gelatin.

Yield: 4 servings.


© 2003, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.

Gelée de vin jaune

60 milliliters
vin jaune, or other sweet wine
sheet gelatin

Place the vin jaune in a small saucepan. Soften the gelatin in cold water. When soft, squeeze out the water and add the gelatin to the saucepan.

Place the saucepan over very low heat. Stir constantly until the gelatin is melted. Pour the mixture into a small, flat-bottom container so that the depth of the liquid is only a few milliliters. Set aside in a refrigerator to gel.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


© 2003, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.

Nougatine de noix

30 grams
granulated sugar
30 grams
walnuts, broken into small pieces

Melt the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is evenly melted. Allow the sugar to caramelize.

Off the heat, add the nuts all at once and stir to mix. Pour the whole mixture onto a silicone rubber (“sil-pat”) baking sheet liner. Place an additional liner over the mixture and quickly press the nougatine into a thin wafer using the bottom of a large pot. Set aside to cool.

When fully cool, use a large knife to coarsely chop the nougatine.

Store the nougatine in a sealed container at room temperature until serving.

Yield: 8 servings.


© 2003, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.