This year’s Thanksgiving dinner was the most over-the-top decadence as my menu was not based on American traditions whatsoever. If you have to think about it, it reads French than any other cuisine. (I have admitted in the past, I am a Francophile.)
The SousVide Supreme water oven and vacuum sealer is the most important kitchen gadgets to cook my foie gras torchons. It is precise and cooked my foie gras evenly on the former. The latter sucks out excess air from my food-safe zip top bag to create the most contact with my marinade (I did use special and delicious, albeit expensive, Madeira wine from Vinhos Barbieto Charleston Sercial Special Reserve and Courvoisier Cognac 12 Year Old – though small amounts used, it made a vast difference in the end). I’ll give you the recipe, which is from Eleven Madison Park’s Cookbook at the end of this post.
The Hudson Valley Foie Gras (I had the whole lobe Grade A), was pristine. This farm is located upstate in Fernadale, near the Catskills, producing one of the most reputable, humanely raised (in the foie gras industry), free range foie gras ducks. I have eaten their foie gras from many local New York City restaurants and the quality is marvelous. Since I wanted to make my Thanksgiving dinner special, I had to get one of their foie gras lobes and cook with it – for savory and sweet applications (the latter is to make Pierre Hermé‘s legendary foie gras chocolate macarons).
The other courses cooked for this dinner was steamed whole lobster with a side of melted butter and lobster in a black truffle cream sauce. The idea is to have seafood courses yet have simpler, shorter cooking techniques and times so my guests won’t be waiting for hours for their food to be graced on the table.
The foie gras torchon with plum sauce is one option of how my guests may want their foie gras. The other dish was what you saw at the beginning of the post of having the quince-pomegranate consommé instead of plum sauce. Both dishes were excellent. Though there was some work picking out the veins and rolling up the lobes to create a log, cooling, sous vide, and cooling again, it was worth the effort.
There were homemade black truffle dumplings (it’s chicken-based so it would let the chopped truffles in the mixture shine better) and white asparagus with truffle butter, and brussels sprouts cooked with crisp bacon and black truffles. The dumplings were delicious. The skins were not too thick, not gummy and too chewy and the filling was pretty damn awesome. The white asparagus was minimalist in preparation – just cut the woody ends and steamed, then tossed in a black truffle butter sauce over. The brussels sprouts were braised in bacon fat (the bacon was rendered and cooked first) and topped with truffles and a touch of truffle oil.
The closest to American on my dinner table was the baked ham that was coated in a brown sugar and mustard glaze. The sweet and salty combination worked very well.
And if you have been reading my site for years, you know there would be an extensive dessert course(s). I successfully attempted to recreate Eleven Madison Park Cookbook‘s Black Truffle and Chocolate mignardes. Tedious in its own way (it’s what you would expect from a fine dining restaurant cookbook) but when you get to eat them, it’s paid off the time I took to create their chocolate and truffle ice cream to the chocolate cookie base and crumb. It was a sophisticated harmony of dark chocolate, truffle, and sweet balanced off from the salt in the recipe.
I baked Chocolate and Pistachio Religieuses (recipe based from Valrhona‘s Cooking with Chocolate – Coeur de Guanaja-Filled Religieuses). The fatter bottom of the religieuses were filled with a white chocolate pistachio pastry cream (my take) and the smaller choux was filled with the Valrhona’s Coeur de Guanaja pastry cream. This particular sweet is best to be shared between two people, as it can easily send them to a sugar high (methinks of the pistachio pastry cream) and because of its size.
I also baked a trio of macarons from Pierre Hermé’s Macarons – pistachio, jasmine, and foie gras chocolate. As you might know, I have this very strange obsession with Pierre Hermé’s macarons. His macarons (or any of his pastries, if you went to any of his boutiques in Paris) has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it unforgettable, especially with the unusual flavor combinations he comes up with.
Anyway, for someone who tried making macarons at home for the first time, I am pretty damn happy with myself for being able to do it very well. Each macaron flavor has its own distinction for making it delicious. I will talk about the macaron making more on a future post.
For a nice petit four, I shared a box of Alma Chocolate. These handmade chocolate bonbons from Portland, Oregon were sublime, as they have unusual flavors like Rosemary Fleur de Lys, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Thai Peanut Butter Cup, Mexican Chocolate Truffle, and so on made it memorable.
As my guests were about to nodd off to food coma, I gave a gift box of my foie gras chocolate macarons as parting gifts. Just in case, they didn’t have enough chocolate or foie gras in their bodies.
Here’s the recipe for the foie gras torchon:
Foie gras torchon with quince-pomegranate and cocoa
Mostly based on Eleven Madison Park’s cookbook
Marinated foie gras
One 2-pound lobe grade A foie gras
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pink curing salt (if you don’t want to buy a pound of this from Terra Spice Company, you can go to Williams-Sonoma or other vendors)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (I used Sarawak white pepper)
2 teaspoons Madeira (I used Vinhos Barbieto Charleston Sercial Special Reserve – a nutty, somewhat dry Madeira, though EMP suggested to use a sweet Madeira)
1 teaspoon Cognac (I used Courvoisier Cognac 12 Year Old)
1. Bring the foie gras to room temperature to soften.
2. Separate the main lobes and remove the veins with tweezers and a paring knife. (This is an important step before you’ll encounter ugly looking spots and you’ll have a harder time to cut the torchon cleanly, as the veins still attach to the main piece.) Try to keep the lobe whole, as possible.
3. In a large bowl, season the foie gras with the salts, sugar and white pepper.
4. Coat evenly, the cognac and madeira.
5. Place in a sous vide cooking bag in an even layered rectangle and vacuum seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
6. Remove the foie gras from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly to prepare for rolling.
2 to 3 pounds quince, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a large stainless steel bowl with 6 cups water and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Cook a double boiler for 3 hours and strain through a fine-mesh chinois. You should have about 8 consomme.
Cocoa foie gras torchon
Marinated foie gras
1/2 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
1/2 cup finely ground coriander
1. Using a damp towel, wipe down a smooth work surface with plenty of space. Layout 3 sheets (about 2 feet long each) of plastic wrap so that they overlap one another slightly. Smooth out the plastic wrap with a clean damp towel.
2. Place the Foie Gras in a single on top of the plastic wrap 2 inches from the bottom edge. Combine the cocoa powder and coriander and stir to mix. Sift an even layer of the cocoa mixture on top of the foie gras. Be sure to cover the foie gras completely with the cocoa.
3. With your hands, break off 1-to 2-inch pieces of the foie gras from the top end and place them on top of one another in a line across the bottom end. The stacked Foie Gras should be in a row about 9 to 10 inches long by 3 inches wide 3 inches tall. Pull up the bottom of the plastic wrap and fold over the Foie Gras, rolling it into a cylinder.
4. Pinch the plastic wrap at the ends and roll by holding the ends of the plastic. Use a cake tester (or skewer or anything that has a sharp, narrow point) to poke holes in the plastic wrap and to remove any air pockets.
5. Roll again to press out more air. Tie both ends tightly and trim the excess plastic.
6. Place cylinder in an ice bath to harden for 4 hours.
7. Remove from the ice water, pat dry, and vacuum-seal in a sous vide bag. Poach for 5 to 6 minutes in a water bath maintained at 137 degrees F by an immersion circulator to just soften and set the roll.
8. Transfer to an ice bath and chill for 12 hours before serving.
*Note: I did not make the sauce, gelée or cocoa brioche because of my schedule restrictions. I will not post these recipes and steps.
Cocoa foie gras torchon
1. With a sharp knife, cut the torchon into 1/2 inch slices. Use a 2-1/2-inch ring cutter to punch out rounds and save the trim for another use.
2. Place the torchon slice in the center of a shallow soup bowl and spoon the consommé around the torchon.
3. (Optional) Add a couple of pomegranate arils around the torchon. (Personally, I find arils have a little bit of crunch and after biting into it, the tartness give the foie gras a nice contrast from its rich texture.).
4. Repeat for the remaining slices and serve.
For more photos of my Thanksgiving dinner, you may view from my slideshow below (or my Flickr set):
Information (of products used)
SousVide Supreme (water oven and vacuum sealer)
Hudson Valley Foie Gras (foie gras)
Gourmet Attitude (truffles)