Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Roast Goose

Several years back the family and I did a themed Christmas--Dickens themed to be exact.  This mainly involved costumes, but some of it translated to the food as well.  We had (in addition to the Turkey) a standing rib roast and some sort of figgy pudding.  What we didn't have, though, was the quintessential centerpiece for any Victorian-themed table:  A Roast Goose.

Reason--Well, I couldn't find one, but I have to admit, back then, I didn't look that hard.  I was a little bit intimidated by roasting a goose for the first time, and perhaps a bit worried how the family would take to it.

Well, I was at the grocery the other day and I saw frozen geese for sale, and the wheels in my brain started turning.  Should I finally try this for Christmas?  Well, it was a few weeks before, so I decided this was the perfect time to to a test roast on a goose--see if I could pull it off and see how it tasted.

Here's the goose I found at the store:

I'd seen this brand once at Central Market selling for around $75 bucks for an eight to nine pound bird.  This one (same brand) was selling for $35 at my local groc, so I figured it was time to snatch one up.

Out of the plastic and thawed it looked like this.

Much longer and thinner than a fat American turkey.  Also, check out these wings:

Unlike the stubby wings of a common turkey, the goose is a true flier, so it's got some incredible wings.  They were so long, in fact, that I trimmed them up a bit (saving the cut pieces for stock)

Now, how to roast this sucker?   I've roasted quite a few turkeys over the last 20 years or so, and despite the fact that many people find such a thing intimidating, it couldn't be any easier.  Roasting a turkey is just a matter of time and temperature.  Roast it in the oven until it reaches the right temp--just don't overcook it.  Turkey comes out perfect with the breast 165˚F and the legs about 180˚F.

In researching goose roasting techniques, I found recommendations all across the board as to final temp.  Martha Stewart said to roast until the breast was 180˚F.  I cringed a little at this, as even I with my limited goose roasting knowledge knew that such would dry out that breast.

The FDA says to cook goose to 165˚F.  That's fine with nice white meat turkey, but with the dark red meat of goose?  Finally Hank Shaw, author of the cookbook Duck, Duck, Goose, recommended the rather unorthodox technique of cooking the breasts to 135˚F, then removing them, and then cooking the rest of the bird to 180˚F.  This sounded intriguing, as several other recipes said 135˚F was fine for the breast.  But, I really wanted a whole bird as the final product, as it makes such a purdy presentation.

I finally decided to roast to 150˚F in the breast, and see where I got with the thighs and other dark meat.

To prep, first I used a sharp boning knife to cut several slits in the skin of the breast, drum and thighs.

This bird is going to render a lot of fat, so you've got to give it a way to leak out.  By the by, just as with my entry on duck breast, don't throw out that fat, it is one of the most luxurious fats there is, great for roasting or flavoring other dishes.

After this, I squeezed some lemon juice on the skin,

then rubbed it in with the lemon.

Then I deposited the squeezed lemons into the bird's cavity,

Along with some fresh rosemary from the garden.

Then it's into the oven at 325˚F.

Yes, this is a rather low temp, but as Hank Shaw suggests, the bird needs time to render that fat out.

I ended up roasting for about an hour and forty-five minutes to get to 150˚F in the breast.  The thigh at this point was about 165F, so it was acceptable.

Here's the final product.

Take a gander at that goose!

The breasts are a little thin for carving like a traditional turkey, so I removed them and sliced them crosswise instead, as you can see below.

Final verdict:  The bird was good, but the decision I made to get a 'whole bird' presentation compromised things a bit.  The breast was tasty, but a bit dry.  Next time I will try the 'remove the breasts at 135˚F' technique.  I think, like my duck recipe, they will be much better that way.  This is a red meat bird, like duck, and I think it is best on the rare side.  As for the thigh meat, it was still a little oily--it could have benefited from a longer cooking time.  Shaw says if you take the thighs to 180˚F, you'll get almost a confit-like, falling apart consistency, which is intriguing, as I like duck confit, so I may just do everything separate next time.

Anyway, it was a worthy experiment.  Oh, and that fat.  I roasted some potatoes in it.  Best I've ever tasted.

Until next time,

Hope you get a goose out of this recipe!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Creamed Onion Tart

So holiday dinners at The Eat'n Man household have always been rather traditional--the family expects nothing less than the same culprits on the dinner table year after year--Turkey, Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce, etc.  I will admit that, even though I am a daring trier of new and exotic foods, I find a certain level of comfort in the familiarity of the traditional dishes.  They sort of make the holidays, and we all look forward to them each year.

But, we do like to try new things, right?  Well, if your family gatherings are anything like mine, there are tons of people present, and this affords the opportunity to add something new and different in with the usual fare.  At least someone might like it.  With that in mind I started seeking out some different things to try as sides during the holidays, and this is the first one I found and tried--a creamed onion tart.  Yes, it sounds weird.   I have to say it is indeed different, but it came out great.  If you like savory dishes, you just might like this one.

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups (5.25 oz) All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Stick Butter, Cut Into Eight Pieces
1/4 Cup Ice Water

Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Cut in the butter a piece in pulses until you have used it all.  Mixture should have a grainy consistency now.  With processor running, slowly add the ice water in drops until a dough ball forms.  Stop adding the water as soon as the ball may not use it all.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.

For the Tart: 

4 thick bacon slices
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat Oven to 400˚F.  Fry bacon strips in a large skillet until crispy.  If you're like me, make a couple extra strips to eat--just 'cause.

While bacon is cooking, roll out your pie crust to about a 14 inch diameter round.  Transfer it to a greased tart pan, pressing to make sides thick.  Poke some holes in it with a fork (dock it, as they say in the baking world) then bake it for ten minutes and then set aside.

Note, in the picture above, I've used a pie chain to weigh down the crust and keep it from bubbling in the middle when it bakes empty.

When the bacon is done, remove from the skillet and reserve.  Melt the butter with the bacon grease and then sauté the onions

over medium low heat until they are translucent and caramelized a bit.

Beat your eggs and then whisk them together with the crème fraiche and the sage, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Remove pie chain (if using) and transfer the onions to the tart crust.

Crumble the bacon strips and sprinkle this over the onions.

Ladle the egg/crème mixture over the onions.

Bake at 400˚F for 30 minutes or so until egg mixture sets and turns golden brown.  Let cool on a rack 10 minutes or so before serving.



Until next time,

Happy Holidays!



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Smoked Turkey Breast

If you read the blog regular-like, you'll remember we covered smoking a whole turkey a couple years back, and it came out great.  I now do one every year--come Thanksgiving and Christmas (and sometimes, a few other times as well)--in addition to my roasted and my fried turkeys.  Yes, we like our turkeys here at An Eat'n Man, but we also like turkey leftovers, and with the size of the Eat'n Man's extended family, one turkey just won't cut it.

Now, at the other end of the spectrum, what if you just don't need that much turkey, or just don't care for the dark meat.  Well, perhaps this is your answer--a single turkey breast.  Just enough for a meal for say four to six, with maybe a smidge left over for a sandwich the next day.  The folks at Butterball hawk a nice pre-cut, pre-packaged turkey breast that is basically ready to go in the smoker.

Looks like this when you get it out of the bag.

Note, it'll be a little smaller than you thought it was--they usually include a bag of gravy mix inside there with the breast, so your eyes will deceive you from when you first heft the package.

Anyway, fire up your smoker with a nice light wood like apple or peach--poultry meat readily absorbs smoke flavor, which is good, but this means more pungent woods like hickory and definitely mesquite are out.  Set your temperature to 300-325˚F.

Oh, before we begin smoking, you might want to remove the stretchy webbing that surrounds the breast.

I didn't, and I found it sort of cooked into the turkey meat, and was a bitch to remove.  The only problem is, if you do remove it, the breast may sort of droop or fall apart.  Solution:  Take it off and then tie the breast up with a few loops of kitchen twine.  Problem solved.

Smoke for 30 minutes.  Breast should now look like this.

Rotate breast around 180˚ and smoke for another 30 minutes.  Check the temp with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast.  It should be getting close now.  Continue smoking until the internal temp hits 160˚F.

Take out and let rest in a warm spot in your kitchen.  Internal temp will continue to climb to 165˚F, which is just right for turkey breast.

Slice and serve--it's just that easy.

Until next time--no reason to go cold turkey with this recipe!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Roasted Vegetables with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

November's at hand, which brings with it my absolute fav holiday--Thanksgiving.  Yes, I like Christmas, and New Years, and Saint Patrick's Day, and so on and so on...but I just love love love Thanksgiving.  It's one of the few holidays that hasn't really 'gone off on itself,' or gone commercial,  It's still a simple holiday that's all about family, food (and, for those of us in Dallas and Detroit, Football)

We're pretty trad, dad, here in the Eat'n Man's extended family fests, so Thanksgiving is all about turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and the like.  But I think from time to time it's fun to inject a new or different dish or two into the line up, just for variety's sake.  Here's one we did this year, a nice spread of roasted veggies with a fab apple cider vinaigrette dressing.

Other than chopping up lots of veg, this dish is quite simple, and you can make it ahead of time (even a day or so) and chill in the fridge.

1 Pound Carrots
1 Pound Parsnips
1 Pound Red Beets, Peeled
10-12 Garlic Cloves
1 Cup Frozen Pearl Onions, Thawed
1 Pound Brussels Sprouts
Several Rosemary Sprigs
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Cracked Fresh Pepper to Taste
Apple Cider Vinaigrette Dressing (Recipe to Follow)
1 Head Radicchio
1 Head Savoy Cabbage

Preheat oven to 425˚F

Chop Your veggies.

Cut the carrots and parsnips into 3 inch long segments about a half inch or so in width.  Cut the beets into disks and then half these if they are large.  I left my Brussels sprouts whole here since they were small, but I think next time I'll halve them--they'll get more roasty and lose more of that, ahem, pungent aroma and flavor they are infamous for.

Place the veggies in a plastic bag.

You'll have quite a bit of veg, so you'll probably have to do this in batches.  Then add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, seal bag, then shake your moneymaker til the veggies are all well-coated with oil.  I make sure to do the red beets separate from the other veggies so they don't turn the others all reddish in color.

Spread your veg out on a couple of trays, leaving some room between the individual veggies to they roast evenly.  Season with salt and pepper, then go get your rosemary.

Here's the rosemary bush in our back yard.  It's absolutely out of control, but we never want for rosemary, that's for sure.

Cut some sprigs and then place three or so on the trays with the veg.

Toss half the garlic cloves on each tray, then roast at 425˚F for 20 minutes or so, then rotate the trays to opposite shelves in the oven and roast for another 20 minutes or so, until the veg are nice, soft and golden around the edges.

Let the veggies cool to room temperature and then toss with the apple cider vinaigrette dressing. Separate several leaves from the Radicchio and Cabbage, place them on a platter, alternating each type of leaf.  Place the veggies on the platter in a pleasing arrangement.

Serve with a little extra vinaigrette on the side.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1  teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a carafe or large jar and shake well.  Place in fridge for an hour or so for flavors to meld.  Shake again just before serving.

Until next time,

Eat your veggies!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cast Iron Seared Sea Scallops in Brown Butter Caper Sauce

Scallops – surely one of the most delightful little treats the sea has ever produced--they look like little meaty marshmallows—and like that sugary treat, they come in two sizes: large and small.  The smaller versions are known as Bay Scallops, and if you’ve got some of those on your hands then I’d recommend checkout out my Coquilles Saint Jacques recipe.  That one may be the ultimate in gussied up scallop recipes.

But if you want a simple scallop recipe, one that celebrates the delicate flavor of the scallop itself, without too much accompaniment, then this one is your huckleberry.  For it, though, you’ll need the bigger of the two forms of scallops, known as Sea Scallops.  The little bay scallops are just too small to stand up to the heat of the cast iron skillet—they’ll overcook before they sear properly.  But the sea scallop, these my friends were made for this technique. 

Scallops, like a good steak or fish, are best on the somewhat rare side.  They should be cooked to an internal temp of around 130˚F and no more, or they will be rubbery.  On the other hand, and also like a good steak, a scallop does benefit from a good sear on the ends, which will provide some nice, caramelized flavor, and you can’t beat cast iron for accomplishing this.  Cast iron heats well and retains that heat, which is necessary to get a good sear. 

The sauce for this recipe, which I’m calling a brown butter sauce, is sort of a bastardized version of a French burre noisette sauce.  Burre Noisette literally translates to hazelnut butter, but there are no actual hazelnuts involved in the production of this butter.  It is called noisette because the butter turns a sort of hazelnut color, and gains a somewhat nutty flavor form allowing the milk solids in the butter to brown slightly.  We’ll be augmenting this sauce with some white wine and capers, but otherwise the sauce is simple enough for the scallop flavor to really shine through. 

Cast Iron Seared Sea Scallops in Brown Butter Caper Sauce

1 Lb Sea Scallops, Drained
3 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
6 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup White Wine
2-3 Tablespoons Capers
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
2 Oz Water

Get yourself a good cast iron skillet.  

Nothing 'cept maybe copper heats as evenly, and nothing retains heat as well, which is crucial to gettting a good sear quickly.  Add the peanut oil (other other high smoke point oil) and heat until it is just beginning to smoke, which is really hot, say around 440˚F, which just happens to be the smoke point of peanut oil.  If you don't have a thermometer, then just get it to where it is just beginning to smoke and you'll be good.  

While it's heating, place your scallops on some paper toweling and pat dry.  

If you want, you can remove the little extra piece of flesh from the side of each scallop (known as the 'foot') to make them more uniform.  

Add the scallops to the hot, smoking skillet, placing them down on the flat side as opposed to the round.  

Let them sear for at least two minutes, maybe more.  You can gently put sideways pressure on them with some tongs.  When they release they are usually read to flip.  

Sometimes when they release, though, they still don't have a complete sear, like a few in this picture. 

You can flip these back over but keep an eye on them.  

You want to get a nice, solid sear on them, like these two here--golden brown, almost caramelized--they will be brimming with flavor.  

Let the second side sear and then get 'em off the heat--the big sea scallops can stand up to searing, but even they will overcook if you leave them on too long.  And the sear should be a deep golden brown, not black.  

Move them to a paper-lined plate and keep warm.  

Reduce heat and let skillet cool a bit.  Add butter to the skillet and let it sauté for about thirty seconds.

Since you're pan is probably still pretty hot, the butter solids will brown pretty quickly, and you want them just browned, not burned.  Have the wine ready and when the butter just begins to brown, add the wine to slow the cooking.  

Stir to combine and scrape up browned bits from the pan.  Let  wine simmer for a couple minutes until reduced by half.  

Add the capers with some of their juice.  

Admire the beautiful concoction.  

Then stir to combine.  

Mix the cornstarch with the water and then add this to the sauce to thicken it.  

Let cook until it thickens enough so that a spatula scraped across will leave a gap that is slow to close.  

Serve the scallops with the sauce drizzled over the top, making sure to get plenty of capers on board.  

Here we've served them simply with a mini Pommes Anna.  

Until next time, 

Come out of your shell and have some scallops!