I’ve been thinking hard this week. Real hard.
What about? (I intuitively sense you asking even though I write this well before you read it, I think that’s my sixth, no maybe my seventh sense). What’s had my mind ticking over like a clock on fast forward? Puns. Good old puns. I love them, and I use them markedly week to week. I think when writing to entertain you just can’t go past a good play. (Let’s count…).
Perhaps it’s a deep desire to play scrabble. I ramble…
What’s had my mind in a spin of witticisms?
Yep that’s right, this week I cooked a Goose. I stuffed it, I basted it, I cooked it, I carved it and I ate it. I all but chased it around the wild, basically.
I didn’t chase it around the wild, but I did chase this wild goose via a series of phone calls over previous weeks. The chasing was fruitful and I landed this 3.8kg giant in time to cook a feast for some of my family who were in Sydney for a holiday.
This would be the same collection of people that had gathered for the goat curry feast we had earlier this year. So the good thing for me was regardless of how the dinner played out, I knew I could rely on some good material for this post. Not pointing the finger at any one of my family members in particular, but once a few glasses of vino have gone down, we usually hear stories of childhood Scandinavian dancing, or the guy that was known as ‘Jesus’ at his University.
Both the aforementioned characters now proudly my brothers-in-law. Proud for them more so, I feel…
Anyway, Friday was the day to see if this goose, that’s me, could lay a golden egg in the form of a stunning, golden goose for a feast to rival any that King Henry VIII would have sat down to. The reason I say this is the idea of eating a goose, seems slightly regal to me. Or maybe it’s just the English I’m thinking of:
Either way, I was hoping to lay on a feast fit for a King, or more pertinently for me, my beloved family, minus dad in person.
Where do you start with a massive bird like this?
I went straight to my cook books and found a brilliant looking starting point in my Hawksmoor at Home book from the awesome London steakhouse Hawskmoor. I settled on basically following this plan for my bird, whilst planning on using the fat that escapes from the bird during the cooking process to cover (drown) and roast some sweet potato (kumara).
Friday arrived and I picked the bird up from the butcher, which had been experiencing a week long thawing process. Intense, while at the same time overtly gentle.
How was the bird done?
I started by manhandling it and trying to even figure out which way was up! This bird was long and almost shapeless. It was clear which end was the arse and which was the neck. The neck was flanked by a Dracula like collar of skin. Weird.
I prepared a stuffing of:
- Pork sausage meat (I literally squeezed the meat out of 3 large free range pork and fennel sausages)
- 1 diced apple (royal gala, if you’re interested in the details)
- I onion (I know!)
- The zest of one orange (naval…)
- Sea salt & cracked pepper
I turned into Sir Mix-A-Lot temporarily and did just that- mixed this, a lot, before stuffing it into the big butt of the goose. I cannot lie.
Once seasoned heavily the bird went into the oven at 170°, with a rough plan of about 3 hours.
Somewhere during this time all the family present arrived at KT’s house, as well as NN and we set about playing all sorts of imaginary games with my 4 year old niece Millie. Ballet, shop keeper, customer etc etc. In fact I probably shirked most of this so I could obsess in the kitchen…
However, this did lead to what was a simple yet absolutely taste bud thrilling entree of blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and baked for 30 minutes.
Read my lips (words): get some dates, blue cheese, bacon and toothpicks and make this yourself. You won’t be disappointed. An amazing little treat for occasions like this. Which is to say- I don’t eat sweet things like this all the time and most likely, nor should you…
I kept checking on the bird and was nervous that I had been too aggressive with the heat. In the end that was unavoidable as KT’s oven was as stubborn as I am on occasion, say when presented with an annoying challenge, and didn’t allow for me to turn the fan off.
How did the goose turn out?
This was the weird part. First off we had to become the quietest kitchen around whilst my youngest niece Poppy was put to bed. In short, she had different ideas about that, and being directly across from the kitchen it made the ridiculous job of carving this once flying beast more of a debacle.
Has anyone out there (that’s you guys) carved a goose before?
The best word I can use to describe this bird is dense. This goose was dense, and it offered no easy way in. The recipe said I should be able to easily pull the legs away. If you call NN and me holding the bird while I broke into a sweat trying to pull slash cut the legs off easy, then f**k you.
I literally was sweating as well as starting to swear audibly (I think Poppy liked that) and my mood was moving rapidly towards the floor.
Forcing a smile at this stage…
I hated carving this goose.
There, I said it. And because of it, I am hard pressed to see myself ever attempting it again.
However, the resulting meal was a different story.
We had the goose fat roasted golden kumara, a lovely salad made by my visiting sister MC, the porky stuffing, a hearty gravy made from the roasting tray remnants and of course the goose itself.
I think the overwhelming opinion was that the goose meat was very lovely. Some of the skin was akin to that of a small whale, but the meat was still pretty tender and had a wonderful flavour. I think similar to turkey with an element of pork, which may have simply been the infiltration of the stuffing. However, the call of the night may just have been “It’s like a pig, the pig of the sky!” I kind of have to agree, if pigs are to fly, geese may well be the starting point in that strange evolutionary twist. The kumara weren’t perfect by any stretch, but still tasted awesome, and the salad was delightful.
The best thing about this meal, however, was the company. I had sat down to the table sceptical as to how the meat would go on the tongue and also pretty damn frustrated at the process of getting it from the selfish bird and onto the plates, but cooking for, and sharing a meal with, my family is something that brings me great joy.
Overall everyone thoroughly enjoyed the meal and we sat and soaked up the atmosphere that only an over sized bird, ridiculous conversations about pirate/Jesus brothers-in-law, some red wine and a very imaginative 4 year old girl can provide.
Disclaimer: The red wine and the 4 year old weren’t directly linked in this example.
So, would I have goose again?
As pointed out earlier, I’ll struggle to roast a bird like this again myself. I’d definitely cook some breasts on their own if possible, and I’d definitely eat goose like this again, just as long as a chef is getting it to me all fancy like. And like all my different meats, a great addition to a well rounded diet, to get you lean, ripped and healthy.
Also this week I went to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, which was great fun with a couple of kids 3 and 4 years old. Outside of their enthusiasm for the bamboo in the garden (rather than the animals) was my own imagination going into over drive about the kinds of meats I could have. Sounds pretty sick really, thinking about eating a Pigmy Hippo, but you have to admit, it also sounds pretty bad arse. Maybe a few Meerkats on skewers? One thing that was a highlight was seeing the Himalayan Thar, which regular readers will know from my Top ten meats as the number one so far this year!
Yep, 39 weeks down and Thar still sits atop the list. I think it would have been quite a different animal to these gaunt looking fellas though.
Next week- week 40! Wow… Make sure before then you get over to my facebook page and say hi!
See you then,