Lucullus, a Valenciennes speciality

A star starter at the festive dinner table !

What would you think if I said ‘ox tongue’ to you? Admit it, it’s not necessarily the most thrilling thing at first glance! But what if I said ‘foie gras’? I get the feeling I’m starting to make you hungry.

Well, Lucullus tongue is the combination and union of the two that’s perfect for your taste buds! Delight your guests with this culinary experience!

If there’s a culinary speciality from Valenciennes that you should really get to know, it’s this one - and believe me, you’re going to love it! If you’re thinking that the word ‘Lucullus’ doesn’t sound very French, you’re right, but when you know that he was a Roman general and aristocrat known for his discerning palate and surely the ancient world’s most famous gourmet, you’ll say ‘that sounds pretty classy’!

‘It’s an honour for a food product to have such a namesake!’ you might say.

The two local semi-artisanal production businesses, including the Lucullus de Marly company, won’t be the ones to tell you otherwise either! Awarded a Médaille d’Or Paris (Paris Gold Medal) in 2017 by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Véritable Lucullus de Valenciennes has become THE refined product, renowned and exported all over the world - and even sent into space.

Remember that the astronaut Thomas Pesquet even had it with truffles for Christmas dinner in front of an audience of millions of internet users! Prepared by the famous chef Thierry Marx, these flavours reminded him of his childhood while he was all the way up there...

So renowned today that an association dedicated to promoting it (La Confrérie de la Lucullus de Valenciennes) was also created in November 2014, bringing together several artisanal restaurateurs with a commitment to proper 'home cooking’.

This pairing of smoked ox tongue and foie gras won’t leave you unmoved, especially if you try it with someone special in one of the Valenciennes area’s great restaurants. On the menu all year round at some restaurants, it’s served up with care with, for example, (onion) confit and toast. If you want to really appreciate this unmissable northern French delicacy, I suggest pairing it with a nice glass of white wine.

If you want to take some Lucullus home with you, don’t hesitate to pop into Les Foies Gras de Saulzoir, Lucullus de Marly or even the Tourist Office! You’ll find Lucullus from the ‘Saveurs en’Or’ brand on the shelves of some local supermarkets in a variety of forms - in slices, in boxes, in jars, as a preserve.

SARL Lucullus – 140 route de St Saulve – 59770 Marly – Tel: 03 27 51 89 10 / FB

Foies Gras de Saulzoir – 241 rue du Vieil Escaut – 59300 Valenciennes – Tel: 03 27 49 49 10 FB

Lucullus and its juniper jelly

A meeting with Thierry Beine from the Auberge du Bon Fermier in Valenciennes

Thierry, owner of the Auberge du Bon Fermier since 1976 and a ‘maître restaurateur’, has always maintained the authentic spirit of his sixteenth-century hotel-restaurant and also - with pride - conserved the traditional speciality of Valenciennes: Lucullus tongue. Today, he is one of the 15 artisans of the Confrérie de la Lucullus able to produce and make it in their establishments. Tourists who happen to pass through, especially foreigners, but also his loyal business customers, love finding it on the menu (or suckling pig, the other house speciality).

We slipped ‘behind the scenes’ of his home manufacturing operation for you. Having put on a white coat with his name embroidered on it, Thierry shows us the different steps that go into making the Lucullus (without giving too much away) that he produces each week and that he communicates with lots of passion and know-how to his trainee chefs.

First and foremost, you need the essentials :

  • Ox tongue
  • A block of foie gras (only foie gras!)
  • Port

Before you start, slice the ox tongue into thin slices no more than 2 mm thick. In a salad bowl, cut the foie gras into small pieces and mash it with a fork. Next, add the port and mix. On a small rectangular tray covered with clingfilm, use a spatula to lay down a layer of foie gras then a slice of ox tongue, then repeat the pattern. Continue alternating the layers to get a lovely thick slice of Lucullus. Cover the whole thing with your clingfilm and place the preparation in the fridge, leaving it there for at least 1 full day. You’ll then be able to take it out, cut it and serve it with whatever accompaniments you like! A delightful delicacy !

Thierry’s secret: Local juniper and especially the touch of port added to the foie gras during production which makes it possible to drain it and removes its slightly greasy side. But Thierry says that, in the end, each artisan has their own ‘little thing’, so what will yours be!?