Monday, December 28, 2009

Cooking our goose - Part Two: Schmaltz

[The Man I Love] decided that he wanted to cook a goose for our Christmas dinner. See Part One for how we started the project.

The day before Christmas, we prepared the raw bird for cooking. As I started reading about cooking a goose, I discovered that one of the characteristics of goose is that they have a lot of fat.

It's quite a chore to de-fat the goose so that the resulting meal isn't disgustingly greasy. But one of the secret benefits of goose-cooking is that, if you're careful you end up with a lot of goose fat for cooking.

Goose fat is prized for cooking - it's quite common in French cuisine. Potatoes roasted in goose fat are said to be sublime. You can buy imported French goose fat for around $10 a pound. Or you can save the fat when you cook a goose.

I pulled off the fat I could, and, following recipes online and in cookbooks, put it in a saucepan. You're supposed to put the fat with water in a pan and slowly simmer it until the water evaporates.

Many of the instructions I read cautioned against letting the fat get too brown, or it would be spoiled. Yet it was hard to figure out when the water was all gone.

One recipe described the sputtering sound it would make as the last of the water boiled away and the leftover bits fried to cracklings in the fat.

After about an hour, I finally heard this sound, and - following the recipe - took the pan off the heat after the sputtering dwindled to almost nothing.

After perhaps 90 minutes, I ended up with a bit less than a cup of clear golden liquid.

I strained this and put it in a jar. I capped the jar and put it into the fridge after it had completely cooled.

The next day when it was time to start cooking the braised red cabbage served with the goose, I got the jar of fat out of the fridge. It was actually beautiful - pure white.

It smelled rich and savory, yet not at all strong. When I melted it in the Dutch oven for the vegetables, it ran clear and didn't sputter at all.

There will be more goose fat to save from the bird while it cooks. It will be more strongly flavored, and require more straining, but it will still be worth saving. Later this week, we'll roast some potatoes in it!

Next? The five hour cabbage.


Jodi Anderson said...

Ahhh, there's that goose fat for the potatoes.

I have never cooked a goose or a duck. I hope that it was delicious.

Blondie's Journal said...

This post is a quite interesting & informative post (and the pictures helped). I never knew the qualities of goose fat and when I have cooked goose, I have always pricked the skin to let out some of the fat and to get a crispy skin.

Now I have a great idea. Thank you. Let us know how the potatoes turn out!


shrink on the couch said...

This may be the closest I ever come to cooking a goose.

Anonymous said...

I'm too late to come to dinner, aren't I?


Anonymous said...

Julia lives!! (It's you)

cactus petunia said...

Can't wait to see the five hour cabbage!