Chicken Liver Custard

Flan de Foies de Volaille

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings:


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Restaurant owners in the Lyonnaise and Bressoise regions faithfully serve a crayfish sauce with this custard. It is a marriage dictated by tradition (and by Lucien Tendret) rather than by harmony. A creamed tomato sauce, a sauce suprême, or a rapid sauce bâtarde will all serve perfectly. A chicken liver custard is an exquisite thing, but it does not take well to garnish and belongs to the realm of first courses. Cold, it is another kind of splendor and needs no sauce.

A custard (liver or not) that is subjected to an excess of heat, be it ever so slight, will break; the body (which, when correctly cooked, is set in a moist and trembling, tender suspension) shrinks within itself, shot with holes bound in a honeycomb of vaguely rubbery structure, its precious liquid cast off in the unmolding. It is difficult, under the circumstances, to give precise oven temperatures; the important thing is that the water of the bain-marie must never approach a boil. Keep an eye on it and, if there is the slightest suggestion of a simmer, turn the thermostat down further, leaving the oven door open for a minute to reduce the heat.

Considering the relatively small proportion of livers (they make up less than one third of the bulk of the mixture), the result has an astonishingly pure-liver effect; the quantity may be reduced for a more custardy effect and a more attenuated liver flavor.


  • 6 to 8 ounces chicken livers (all traces of green stain removed)
  • 2 ounces beef marrow (pried out of bone, not poached)
  • 1 clove garlic, puréed
  • cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Salt, pepper
  • Butter (for mold)


The liver, the marrow, and the crushed garlic may be reduced together to a purée in a blender or with a mortar and pestle. In any case, the resultant purée must be stirred together with all the other ingredients, the lot passed through a fine sieve and whisked until smooth. Pour into a generously buttered 3-pint charlotte mold, into the bottom of which has been pressed a round of buttered parchment paper (fold a square of paper in quarters and continue folding, over and over, from the central point to the center of the triangular base until only a wide-based needle remains; measure it out from the approximate center of the overturned mold, clip off the excess, open it out, and butter it). Cook in a bain-marie (the mold placed on a small grill or folded towel within a larger container that is filled with warm but not hot water to the level of the custard surface—about two thirds of the mold’s height) in a 300° to 325° oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch, the edges having just begun to shrink from the sides. Leave to relax for 5 or 6 minutes before unmolding; when unmolded, delicately peel off the round of paper, and, if you like, coat lightly with the chosen sauce, serving the rest in a sauceboat apart.