If you're making this deliriously delicious treat for a big dinner party, start it 5 to 6 days in advance
2 fresh duck foie gras (each about 1 1/2 pounds, see box, page 477)
3/4 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon Cognac
1. Separate the two lobes of the liver by gently pulling them apart. Scrape away any traces of green bile and allow the foie gras to warm up slightly so it is more manageable to clean. (Be careful not to let the liver get too warm or it will melt in your hands.)
2. To clean the foie gras, use a small knife and carefully dig into the middle of each lobe, slipping the vein under the knife tip and pulling it out. Gently pull out (with a knife or your fingers) any other veins you see throughout the liver. (Do not be concerned if in the deveining process you separate the foie gras into chunks; just make sure that the chunks are at least as large as golf balls.)
3. Fill a large bowl with ice water and let the foie gras chunks soak for 5 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
5. In a small bowl combine the sea salt and spices. Remove the livers from the ice bath, dry them, and sprinkle them evenly with the spice mixture. Place half of the liver pieces, smooth side down, in a heavy terrine (they should almost completely Fill the lower half of the terrine). Place the remaining pieces of liver on top, smooth side up (now the terrine should be almost completely filed). Pour 1 tablespoon of Cognac over the top. Cover the top of terrine with parchment paper cut just to fit over the top, and press down slightly.
6. Place the terrine in a deep roasting pan filed with warm water (just below simmering). Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 115 degrees, about 20 minutes per pound.7. Pour the excess fat off the terrine and reserve. Allow the terrine to cool completely, about 2 hours, then pour the reserved fat back over the terrine until the terrine is full. Cover the top with foil, and place a piece of cardboard cut out to Fit the opening of the terrine. To compress the liver, place about 5 pounds of weight on top and refrigerate for at least 2 days.
8. When ready to serve, unmold the terrine and cut with a knife that has been dipped in hot water into slices about 1/2 inch thick with a coating of yellow fat. Cover slices with wax paper, and let sit for a few moments so they may warm slightly. Serve with toasted slices of brioche.
If you're making this deliriously delicious treat for a big dinner party, start it 5 to 6 days in advance. The reason: though a foie gras terrine tastes good enough 2 days after it's made, a 5-day sojourn in the refrigerator ripens the terrine, makes it more velvety and deeper in Flavor. The terrine mold to use for this dish, by the way, should just hold the pieces of duck liver, with very little extra room; a terrine with a 5-cup capacity should be about right. Serves 18 as a first course