Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Timbales de foies de volaille -- Chicken liver custards

This is very much a Ladies Who Lunch kind of thing. 1950s hats and white gloves. I love it. Definitely a Madmen thing. But then MAFC is really an early 60s thing: published in 1961 (vol. 1 p. 174).

It reminds me of when we went to this time warp French restaurant in midtown Manhattan called Le Périgord a couple of years ago, with my daughter-in-law. Founded in 1964, it looked like it had the original carpet and the original waiters. I loved the dessert cart, with classics never seen today, like floating island. The fixed price lunch menu had a dish very much like this one.

Just rich enough to whet the appetite yet light; easy to make; stays warm well; inexpensive ingredients; elegant presentation. And less than 10 minutes into the oven. It also has a million variations, with (and I quote from Julia, p. 174) "ham, turkey, chicken, sweetbreads, salmon, lobster, crab, scallops, mushrooms, asparagus tips, or spinach."

Serves 4 as a first course

Preheat oven to 350º

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup boiling milk
1 cup chicken livers, pressed down (about 8 ounces)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraiche
1 tablespoon port, Madeira, cognac, sherry, etc.
cooking spray
  1. Heat water in a kettle
  2. In a small saucepan, make a béchamel sauce by melting together the butter and the flour, stirring until they foam, without coloring, about 2 minutes. Off heat, beat in the milk and seasoning. 
  3. In a food processor or blender on high, puree the livers, eggs, and seasoning for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the béchamel sauce, the cream, and the wine and blend for 15 seconds.
  5. Spray four 1/2 cup ramekins and place them in a skillet or baking pan. Divide the mixture into them and pour boiling water around them, so it comes at least half way up the sides of the ramekins.
  6. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until a needle or knife comes out clean and the timbales have just begun to shrink from the ramekins. 
  7. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the timbale. Invert a serving plate over each and invert to unmold. 
  8. Garnish with one of the sauces below. 
  • Coulis de tomate: The sauce in the pic is a simplified coulis consisting of summer tomatoes cored, seeded (not peeled) then food processed and frozen. 
  • Sauce Aurore: Double the amount of béchamel (step 2) and reserve half of it. Add 1 tablespoon tomato puree or tomato paste, and optional chopped fresh herbs. (MAFC I p. 62)
  • Sauce Madère ou Porto: Add 1 tablespoon Madeira or port to 1/2 cup demi glace, brown sauce, or leftover sauce from braised meats (MAFC I p. 75)
  • Sauce Estragon: Stir one tablespoon chopped tarragon into 1/2 cup bdemi glace, brown sauce, or leftover sauce from braised meats (MAFC I p. 75). Off heat and just before serving, beat in 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Stephen Yang for The Wall Street Journal

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