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Oct 5, 2000 03:55 PM

torchon - definition?

  • w

I was reading an older post today about the Strip House restaurant and saw a dish referred to as a torchon of foie gras. Coincidentally my boyfriend just called me asking for the definition of this word when used as a cooking technique. Anybody have a clue? I think it refers to partial cooking under vacuum. Thanks!

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  1. j
    jonathan sibley

    It means you wrap it up tight in a dish towel (or something similar), then cook it. The cloth keeps the foie gras together, and can allow one to put various pieces together before cooking it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jonathan sibley

      Jonathan - Thanks for such a quick response! I wasn't even close,was I?! Incidentally, I had an octopus dish prepared this way last Monday night, and it was quite wonderful. Sort of a carpaccio (in presentation style) very simply garnished with sea salt, greens and great olive oil. Now I understand how it was prepared.


    2. y
      yvonne johnson

      The waiter at Strip House (NYC) said that the chef made this dish himself by cooking the foie gras in a cloth, and I think he said it was boiled.

      I'm also intrigued and you've prompted me to look up our Collins french dictionary, and under "torchon" it says "cloth....tea-towel, dish towel"

      This makes me think of something else. My Scottish grand-mother used to make savory and sweet puddings/dumplings and she cooked them by boiling in a cloth. They were called "clouty dumplings" and they were very good!

      2 Replies
      1. re: yvonne johnson

        Those dumplings sound great (especially on a cold rainy day like today)! Did your grandmother pass along the recipe?

        1. re: wendy j
          yvonne johnson

          I’m sorry to say my granny who lived in the north-east of Scotland, where Î grew up, never used cookery books and she didn’t record her own recipes. I picked up a lot from her but I have no clear memory of how she made the sweet and savory torchon "clouty dumplings" partly because thay were made for special occasions. Hence I didn't watch her make them that often.

          On a more cheery note, when I was in London in August, I heard Sue Lawrence, food writer, on the radio. She had recently toured Scotland with one goal: to record the traditional recipes, usually passed on orally or probably more often through observation, before they were forgotten. Of course I rushed out to buy it.

          The book "Scots Cooking" is informative, but some of the ingredients are hard to get in New York. The book is nicely illustrated. I include the mouth-watering cover illustration

          And yes, a sweet cloutie dumpling is included, though I’ve not tried it yet.

          For your info, Amazon US says Lawrence's book is due to be published in USA soon, September 2000 --maybe it’s now out:

          I bought the book in the UK where it was available earlier. It is also available through amazon UK:

          Final thought: The nearest thing to cloutie pudding that I can make is "steamed pudding". This is very simple to make—versions are included in run of the mill books like "Joy of Cooking." As you suggested, they are great for cold days—they warm you up by sticking to your ribs!

      2. J. Sibley defines it properly below.
        However, if you want to read more about the "fun" involved in making a "proper" torchon, I highly recommend reading Soul of a Chef by M. Ruhlman - a great book!