Chef Norman Van Aken of NORMAN'S in Coral Gables, Florida

"Down Island" French Toast with a Savory-Citrus Caramel

Yield: serves 4

For the Foie Gras and the Marinade:

  • 12 ounces of fresh foie gras, cleaned and cut into 2 sections
  • ½ of a Tahitian vanilla bean cut in half length-wise
  • 1 cup of Curaçao
  • ½ teaspoon mace
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Peel of one orange, all pith removed

    Mix the liqueur with the vanilla bean, scraping out the seeds into the liqueur with the tip of a knife. Add the mace, cinnamon, orange peel and whisk. Place the foie gras into the marinade, cover it with plastic wrap and slosh the marinade around a bit. Now refrigerate it until you are ready to serve. (Allow at least 12 hours in the marinade.)

For the French Toast:

  • 12 slices of fresh brioche, cut 1/3 of an inch in thickness
  • 5 whole eggs, beaten together
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ½ of a Tahitian Vanilla Bean cut in half length-wise
  • ½ teaspoon mace
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Some clarified butter to cook the toast (unsalted plain butter works)

    Scrape the vanilla seeds out of the bean into the beaten eggs. Add the half-and-half, mace and cinnamon. Beat a bit more. Now slip the slices of brioche into the eggs and allow them to flavor. The amount of time in the eggs will vary depending on the softness of your brioche. The softer, the shorter. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to prepare the dish.

To make the dish:

1 recipe prepared and heated Savory-Citrus Caramel Sauce (see below).

Remove the foie gras from the marinade and slice it into wafer cuts approx. 1/3 inch thick and reserve them on a chilled plate. Discard the marinade.

Remove the brioche from the marinade and lay the slices onto a plate.

Season the foie gras with sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper.

Heat a skillet like you would use for making classic French toast.

Start with the toast by ladling some clarified (or regular unsalted) butter into the bottom of it. Add the brioche and cook on moderate heat until golden on both sides. Keep warm in the oven a moment.

For the Savory Citrus Caramel:

Yield: 1 to 1 ½ cups

  • 14 ounces Chicken Stock
  • ¾ cup fresh passion fruit or grapefruit juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • A few drops of soy sauce

    Combine the stock, juice and sugar in a heavy but shallow saucepan and cook to the caramel stage. Now carefully whisk in the heavy cream. Allow to boil, deepen in color and reduce, whisking constantly. When it is caramel dark and reduced to 1 to 1 ½ cups add the soy and then strain through a fine meshed strainer. Reserve.