| Paula Wolfert’s Duck Liver Flans with Caramel Vinegar Sauce|
(served with 1978 Barolo Cannubi, Prunotto)
serves 5 to 6
active work: 20 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes
For the flans
• 4 duck livers, or 5 blond chicken livers, cleaned and soaked in milk a minimum of 3 hours
• salt and fresh-ground pepper
• 1 teaspoon Armagnac or Madeira
• 1-½ teaspoons unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon duck demi-glace
• 1 small clove garlic, peeled
• pinch grated nutmeg
• 1 egg yolk at room temperature
• 3 whole eggs at room temperature
• 1-½ cups milk, heated and kept warm
• ½ cup heavy cream
For the caramel vinegar sauce
• 1 cup red wine vinegar
• 3-½ tablespoons sugar
• 1-¼ cups duck demi-glace
• ½ cup heavy cream
1. Drain livers; rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Pick over the livers to remove green bile, fat, and sinews
2. Marinate livers 1 to 2 hours in a mixture of ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and the Armagnac or Madeira
3. Lightly butter 5 or 6 (½ cup capacity) porcelain ramekins or molds. Arrange them in a shallow pan lined with 2 or 3 layers of newspaper (slit the newspaper in center to avoid swelling when wet. Set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 325 F
5. Place the livers in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add demi-glace, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon pepper, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Process 2 minutes. Transfer to a strainer set over a bowl; add egg yolk, whole eggs, milk, and cream. Strain; discard stringy egg albumen and any liver strands.
6. Boil water to be poured into a baking pan for a bain-marie. Carefully ladle equal amounts of the flan mixture, stirring after each addition, to not quite fill each ramekin. Place bain-marie on center oven rack. Pour enough boiling water in baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 20 minutes or until flans feel firm when prodded by two fingers. If flans are not set, turn off heat and allow to stand in the oven 5 to 10 minutes longer.
7. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a heavy, deep 2-quart saucepan (not aluminum), cook vinegar and sugar to a caramel over medium heat. Swirl in the demi-glace; bring to a boil. Add cream but do not stir (the cream will be “swallowed up” by the sauce). Boil vigorously 5 minutes or until the surface is full of tight bubbles. Stir gently until you can catch a glimpse of the bottom of the pan; remove from heat at once.
8. Season to taste with pepper and a shot or two of vinegar; sauce should be more acidic and peppery than sweet. Spoon hot sauce around the turned-out flans.