Sous Vide Cooking

Duck Foie Gras cooked sous vide at 58°C during 47 minutes

by on Dec.27, 2009, under Recipes, Time and Accurate Temperature

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In France, during Christmas time, eating foie gras is very popular. Remember that the sous vide method was developed by Georges Pralus in the 70s  in order to cook foie gras in an optimal way.
For the first time I tried to cook myself a duck foie gras sous vide.
First issue is to choose a good raw foie gras of quality…The South Ouest of France is the region where the foie gras is originally produced. If you choose one of those, there is a small risk to make mistakes.

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Then, you must take off the veins of the foie gras (sometimes you can purchase the foie gras without the veins). This is where the problem started…This is not an easy part of work. I looked on internet some videos illustrated the key points and technique to take off veins of a foie gras and then I tried myself. The difficult thing is to find the veins, take them off without destroying the whole structure of the foie gras.

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It was very hard to do. On the right you can see the pieces of foie gras containing the veins and on the left the foie gras I almost totally destroyed!

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Then I added 13g salt per kilo and 3g of pepper per kilo of foie gras. Some people recommend seasoning the foie gras with Armagnac or Porto. I put no alcohol at all.
Next step is to create a “ballotine”.

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The “ballotine” was also not easy to form. I took a food grade plastic wrap, put the foie gras pieces inside and compressed them, first to take off the air but also to create a cylinder. Several plastics wrap pieces were necessary to fulfill this step.

Next step was to vacuum the foie gras in a pouch. I read on internet that the best way to keep a frame while cooking was to use a “shrink” bag. I didn’t have any so I did it with a regular cuisson sous vide bag.

Cooking the foie gras ballotine: my foie gras cylinder was approx. 17 cm long and 6 cm of diameter. The more an ingredient is fat the best it conducts heat. I cooked my ballotine at 58°C during 47 minutes with immersion circulator.
During the cooking process air appeared in the ballotine and my pouche started to float on the surface. I have probably not compressed enough the foie gras and not vacuumed enough the pouch. Therefore I fixed the pouch with a heavy tool down in my cooking pot.

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Next step was to chill the ballotine. As you can see I took this task very seriously.

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My foie gras became slightly brown and a significant amount of yellow fat appeared on one side of the pouch (unfortunately you can’t see it on the picture). I was surprised to see that by ballotine kept its cylinder frame. My worry was to maintain this frame until the total cool down of the foie gras. For this purpose I took a piece of carton I curved like a half-cylinder and place the ballotine inside. After I left the ballotine in the fridge for a night with the carton, the whole ballotine kept its perfect frame of a cylinder.

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The result was really not so bad! With a little bit of fig, the taste was marvelous and the texture fantastic.

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In addition, a little bit of Sauterne Château de Rolland (Barsac) 2004…Très, très bon!

Jean-François

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6 Comments for this entry

  • Ege

    Hi.

    I have been reading your blog for a while. Nice stuff you got here. I am gonna try to do the Foie Gras Terrine based on your article here this week. I cross my fingers that I can can knock my self out this weekend in Terrine and Sauternes :-)

  • Jean-François

    Hi Ege,

    Thank you. Long time ago that I made this foie gras but I still can remember how good it was. This recipe was extremely simple (salt and pepper) but next time I’ll try with a little bit of Porto.
    Tell me how was going your Terrine.

    JF

  • Ege

    Hi JF.

    So now i finished the terrine. I added both Port and Madeira. The taste was really good , quite flavourful.

    When I had the Foie Gras in the water bath quite a lot of fat melted of. I was a little bit disappointed as I had hoped there would be less fat melting when using sous vide meaning more terrine at the end.

    But besides that I am very happy with the results. I will write about on my blog asap – probably saturday, but it will be in danish. But then you can laugh at the pictures.

    Regards Ege

  • Ege

    I got the pics up on my blog now. I can recommend the temperature and times suggested by JF if anyone want to try. Perhaps try 2 degress lower for less melted fat if you’re adventurous.

  • Sonya Lang

    I made this, 58C, 47min exactly and so much fat melted off I cannot believe it. I am going to look at it in the morning but right now I just want to not even think that I have ruined such an expensive thing. Lower heat and less time for sure, just not sure where to start.

  • Sonya Lang

    okay, I opened up the foie gras and it actually is quite nice. there is 1/8 to 1/4 inch fat collected on one side of it, which I think is a lot, but there is still quite a lot of fat in it. I am knocking the hardened fat off to use for another purpose as I use it and keeping the fat in a separate container. It is very rich tasting. I used a small amount of instacure #1, salt, demmerara sugar- less than 10 g total combined of the above for a 500 g portion and about 1-2 tsp of calvados to mix in with it. I did not have a vaccumm sealer but did wrap in saran, and then in cheesecloth & tied with string, then into a zip lock bag and into the sous vide. So the shape is pretty good for the first time making a ballotine. Could have used slightly less salt I thought, but once we were eating it with bread and balsamic reduction, did not notice any excess salt flavour. I would still slightly reduce the temp and time to reduce the fat meltoff. I am not ready to do it for only 90 sec as some recipes suggest, I am glad it is longer, just want slightly less fat melt off.

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