Success in this dish is about careful preparation – the cooking is easy. It will concentrate the mind wonderfully if you keep the receipts for the ingredients in front of you as you work! Carelessness will come expensive.
Cut each liver horizontally into three or four slices.
Allow the slices to warm slowly to room temperature. These livers have a high fat content, and become very soft when not refrigerated.
When soft, carefully pick out all nerves and veins, a messy job. Use your fingertips to lift up the veins from the liver. Don’t forget to take off the outer membrane. This is a very important stage of the recipe – the more care you exercise in cleaning the liver the better the terrine will be.
Season each slice liberally, on both sides, with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Arrange the slices in layers in a terrine. I use a Le Creuset one, measuring 12 × 3in (30 × 7.5cm). After each layer sprinkle with the port and Armagnac.
Use decent port – a ten-year-old tawny is just fine. (Words like ‘ruby’ or ‘Vintage character’ on the label often mean nasty and coarse, and represent a false economy when you consider the cost of the foie gras over which you are pouring it.)
Refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight. The livers will have absorbed most of the port and brandy and will have become firm again.
Place the terrine in a roasting dish half filled with cold water, and cook in the middle of a cool oven – 300°F (150°C) Gas 2 – for 20 minutes. It won’t look cooked but it is. If you cook any longer you will end up with half the quantity of terrine and pints of butter-like fat.
Lay a plastic card or a couple of spatulas along the top and then weight with three 2oz (50g) weights – remove them when the terrine is completely cold and set.
Reduce the consommé by half with any juices from the terrine. Pour this over the terrine and chill to set. The reduced consommé will set to jelly, filling gaps in the terrine and making it easier to slice.
Turn the terrine out, or serve from the dish. Slice with a sharp, warm knife, and serve with brioche toast or potato bread.