November 2013

Holiday Goose

by admin on November 15, 2013

Although the notion of shopping with the seasons is hardly new, and many of us adhere to the practice with a near religious vigor, most people apply the philosophy to, say, spring (onions, garlic, fava beans, and peas); summer (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), fall (figs, pears, apples) or winter (squash and bitter greens). But wild fish (Dungeness crab, sand dab, halibut, soft shell crab) are also seasonal, and, while the thought may strike many as weird, so are meat & poultry.

I believe this thinking will soon become the norm, especially for those of us who do most of our food shopping at farmers’ markets. After all, the theory is hardly new. Europeans have traditionally eaten lamb in spring, beef in summer & fall, and pork in fall and winter. Many small poultry farms have a chicken season that runs from April to November, and move on to fattier birds such as duck, turkey, and geese during cold weather months.

Goose, of course, is a traditional treat in many parts of the world, but not so much here in the States where turkey seems to be the perennial holiday bird of choice. To my way of thinking, turkey is fine and dandy  but once you’ve roasted a goose for Christmas there’s no turning back.

Slow-Roasted Goose with Root Vegetables on a Bed of Farro
The idea for slow-roasting the goose was inspired by the Union Square Café’s Second Helpings cookbook. I’ve settled on a simplified version of the recipe, have added a twist using SHOlive Oil Company’s new Cranberry Balsamic Vinegar, and also carve the bird and serve it over a bed of mint and tarragon flecked farro, the traditional Italian grain from the Abruzzo region. The result is fantastic. The dark, slightly gamey meat, crisp golden bits of skin, toothsome farro, a rich, but not too rich sauce, and the underlying brightness provided by the herbs.

8 – 10 pound Goose (preferably fresh, not frozen)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, pealed and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped
8 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup hard apple cider
1 tablespoon CRANBERRY BALSAMIC VINEGAR

4 tablespoons 2013 OLIO NUOVO
2 tablespoons ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT

2 cups farro
1 sprig mint leaves, chopped
1 sprig tarragon leaves, chopped

24 – 48 hours before cooking, cut off the wingtips and set aside with the giblets. Pre-salt the goose inside and out with ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT and refrigerate, loosely wrapped in plastic.

Remove goose from fridge an hour before roasting and bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

Stuff the goose with a mixture of the root vegetables, apple, sage, and bay leaf. In a large roasting pan, place the bird breast-side down on roasting a rack and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. Roast for 4 hours at 250°.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove the foil, and pour off and save the rendered fat for another use (such as roasting potatoes). Raise the heat to 350°, and continue cooking for another hour.

Remove the pan from the oven, pour off and save any remaining fat, flip the goose to breast-side up, scatter the wingtips and giblets around the roasting pan, and cook for one more hour at 350°.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the farro.

When it’s done, remove the goose from the pan and set aside to rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the vegetable, apple, and herb mix from the cavity, add it to the giblets and wingtips along with the chicken stock, hard cider, and Cranberry BALSAMIC VINEGAR, and cook over medium heat, slowly reducing the liquids into a sauce.

Carve the goose meat completely off the bone (it will be so tender that it will essentially fall off). Slice or tear the meat into fork-sized shreds.

Layer the farro onto a serving platter, and liberally scatter the chopped mint and tarragon leaves over the top. Arrange the goose flesh and pieces of crispy skin over the farro, ladle over the sauce, and serve.

— serves 8 to 10

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2013 Olio Nuovo for the Thanksgiving Table!

by admin on November 1, 2013

With Thanksgiving practically here, and Christmas on the horizon, the season for turkey is about to rev into high gear. And we strongly recommend sourcing a fresh heritage breed over the typical supermarket variety.

The difference is not insignificant.

An example would be the birds from BN Ranch, a venture from Bill Nyman (formerly of Nyman Ranch) and his wife Nicolette. Bill and Nicolette personally drove to Kentucky to pick up their poults, which were bred naturally, not via artificial insemination. The next generation is birthed the old-fashioned way, from the eggs produced by the initial flock. The birds are raised at Nymans’ Bolinas, CA ranch, and are housed in spacious pens with indoor and outdoor access that provides ample room for exercise. Moreover, these birds are humanely raised on an all-vegetarian diet, with no beak cutting or wing clipping—they even fly.

The flavor difference is staggering. Turkeys like these are not only far tastier than the mass-produced variety—delivering authentic turkey flavor—but they are also more interesting of texture. The skin crisps properly, the breast meat is meaty and moist, and the drumsticks, ah, the drumsticks…a favorite part—especially from heritage birds that get to exercise those leg muscles—are rich, dark, slightly gamey, and very satisfying.

To Brine or Not to Brine
I think the case for heritage turkey speaks for itself. Things get somewhat trickier, however, when it comes to the question of whether or not to brine the bird. A good many prominent chefs, Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters among them, are strong advocates of brining. And there’s no doubt that brining meat in a salted water solution for a few days, before air-drying for another day or two, does result in moister meat.  You can also pre-salt the bird, and cook them with the chicken recipe given in a previous post. Cooking at higher than normal temperatures, results in a  balance of crispy skin, and moist, evenly cooked meat. (To get a scientific take on the question of brining, and his argument against the practice, check out Harold McGee’s “Curious Cook” column from New York Times.

Now for the Turkey
For this recipe, rather than just salting the bird we’re going to employ St. Helena Olive Oil Co.’s Organic Poultry Rub, which in addition to sea salt, will further enhance the flavor of your turkey with garlic; herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme; a dash of cane sugar; and spices, including chili and black pepper, cayenne, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and coriander.

1 Heritage turkey (weight will vary, but estimate 1 to 1.5 lbs. weight for each guest)
SHOliveOilCo ORGANIC POULTRY RUB (a healthy handful)
6 sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 pats unsalted butter
2 tablespoons 2013 OLIO NUOVO

48 hours before roasting, take a nice fistful of Organic Poultry Rub and do just that—rub it into the skin as well as the cavity of the turkey. Don’t go too crazy, but don’t be too shy either. Place the bird (either uncovered or loosely wrapped in plastic) on a pan in your fridge. (This is definitely a challenge for larger birds, with which you may need to clear off an entire shelf just to fit the thing in there.)

Remove the bird from the fridge about an hour before roasting, and preheat the oven to 450°. Place a kitchen towel over the breastbone, and give it a good whack with a rolling pin. Remove the towel, and press down on the breast to flatten a bit (this helps ensure more even cooking of breast and legs). Gently lift the skin from the breastbone (see technique in the previous chicken recipe), and stuff sage and garlic under the skin. Rub the bird all over with the olive oil. Place on a rack in a roasting pan, and roast for approximately 2.5 hours for a 10-pound bird, adding 15 minutes for each additional pound. Please note that most ovens are not accurately calibrated, so these times are suggestions. Use your senses—especially the nose and eyes—to judge when your bird is finished. Let rest for 15-20 minutes, carve, and serve.

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