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Classic Terrine of Foie Gras

['1 (1 1/2-lb) whole raw Grade A duck or goose foie gras at room temperature, cleaned and deveined', '4 teaspoons kosher salt', '1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper', '1/4 cup Sauternes or 3 tablespoons Armagnac', 'Accompaniment: toasted slices of pain de mie (dense white sandwich loaf) or baguette', '1 piece of cardboard trimmed to fit just inside top of terrine, wrapped well in plastic wrap', '1 3-lb weight (1 or 2 large soup cans)', '1 (3- to 4-cup) ceramic terrine', '2C/ 3 inches deep (preferably oval and with a lid); a piece of cardboard trimmed to fit just inside top of terrine', 'wrapped well in plastic wrap; and a 3-lb weight (1 or 2 large soup cans)']

Preheat oven to 200°F and line a small roasting pan with a folded kitchen towel or 6 layers of paper towels (this provides insulation so bottom of foie gras won't cook too quickly).
Sprinkle each lobe and any loose pieces of foie gras on both sides with kosher salt and white pepper. Sprinkle one third of Sauternes in terrine and firmly press large lobe of foie gras, smooth side down, into bottom. (Wedge any loose pieces of foie gras into terrine to make lobe fit snugly.) Sprinkle with another third of Sauternes. Put smaller lobe of foie gras, smooth side up, into terrine and firmly press down to create a flat surface and snug fit. Sprinkle with remaining Sauternes. Cover surface of foie gras with plastic wrap, then cover terrine with lid or foil.
Put terrine (with plastic wrap and lid) in roasting pan and fill roasting pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up side of terrine. Bake in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center of foie gras registers 120°F, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or 160°F (for USDA standards), about 3 1/2 hours.
Remove terrine from pan. Discard water and remove towel. Return terrine to roasting pan and remove lid. Put wrapped cardboard directly on surface of foie gras and set weight on cardboard (this will force fat to surface; don't worry if fat overflows). Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.
Remove weight and cardboard and spoon any fat that has dripped over side of terrine back onto top (fat will seal terrine). Chill, covered, until solid, at least 1 day.
Unmold foie gras by running a hot knife around edge. Invert onto a plate and reinvert, fat side up, onto serving dish. Cut into slices with a heated sharp knife.

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