Foie gras parfait with Madeira jelly

From the Art of Living according to Joe Beef

I had never really worked with foie gras before and I was intimidated at first. I did not know what I was getting into, but I must admit, these guys at Joe Beef guide you all the way, making the job much easier than I thought it would be. It is much easier than cleaning sweetbreads, not even comparable. If you don’t live in California, give this recipe a try, you won’t regret it.

I would suggest making the portions a bit smaller than 1/2 cup if you are going to serve this as an appetizer. Also, I highly recommend serving it with the fig compote, which was my little addition, to lighten things up a bit. I think it added the freshness it needed. Listen, I had a few guests to impress, and I think the evening started rather well with this luscious appetizer.

I have been to Joe Beef, a famous Montreal restaurant, on a few occasions and always had a blast there. The food is exquisite, the atmosphere incomparable, the staff friendly and the crowd is simply beautiful. If you don’t have a chance to go there, buy their book and read it. It is filled with anecdotes and the history of Joe Beef, wittily written and filled with beautiful photographs that will make your mouth water.

Joe Beef's foie gras parfait


1 whole fresh duck foie gras, about 500 g
1 liter milk
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp brandy
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
fresh truffle shavings (optional)
boiling water
Madeira jelly (recipe follows)
toasted croûtons


1. Put the liver in a large bowl and cover with milk. Leave out at room temperature for about 2 hours. You want the liver to soften up. Throw out the milk.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Put the cream in a small saucepan and place it over high heat. Leave it there until it boils.
3. Using your hands or a knife, clean the liver: remove the bile ducts, veins and arteries (everything that is hard, red or green). Pat it dry.
4. Cut the liver into small cubes and put in a bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the sugar and the brandy and mix well.
5. Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the egg yolks and whole eggs and mix. Add the cream, a little at a time and pulse for 10 seconds. Continue until you have used all the cream and what you have in the blender looks like a thick milk shake.
6. Pour the liquid through a sieve into 10 to 12 individual ramequins, about 1/2 cup each, and put the ramequins in a baking dish. Transfer to the oven, add boiling water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramequins and bake for about 25 minutes. They should wobble stiffly when shaken a bit.
7. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
8. Top with truffle shavings if using, then with the Madeira jelly and return to the refrigerator for a few more hours. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before serving.

Madeira jelly:

6 sheets gelatin (or 1 sachet)
1 cup Madeira
6 1/2 tbsp water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp white wine vinegar

1. Bloom the gelatin in a bit of cool water for 5 or 10 minutes.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, water, maple syrup and vinegar over medium heat. When hot, add the gelatin and mix well.
3. Spoon this mixture over the cool parfaits and refrigerate until set.

Fig compote:

12 fresh figs, quartered
2 tbsp water
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, about 3 cm
a few gratings fresh nutmeg
2 to 3 tbsp honey
juice of half a lemon
1 pinch salt

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the fruit has the consistency of a compote. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve one or two teaspoons along with the foie gras parfait.

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