Thursday, December 31, 2015

Harissa-rubbed lamb, roast goose served two ways, grass-fed beef and other wonders

My goose is cooked

Come the holidays I was at Giant Supermarket trying to make hard choices: grass-fed beef at a discount, or lamb?

Over two pounds of grass-fed beef (and you know that's expensive) at $8.79 (as opposed to $10.99) a pound? Perfect for a quick Sunday dinner. The cut was meant to be a roast, but was thick enough--over two inches--to fast-fry on a cast-iron pan: 1) heat cast iron pan @ 500 F for twenty minutes; 2) rub meat with olive oil, kosher salt, fresh-cracked pepper; 3) sear steak 8 minutes one side, 7 minutes the other; 4) let rest and serve. Almost easier than eating the darn thing.

What you see is what you get: dark brown crust outside, medium to raw-blue rare inside. Served with a bowl of arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise (mustard's too peppery for this herb).

So: rich blood-warm beef set against peppery arugula, accompanied by slow-fried potato crisps. Is that not a pretty plate?

Beef is nice if expensive; lamb on the other hand was a ridiculous $3.99 a pound (there was of course a sale), so I bought a whole leg for next day's dinner. You know the drill:

Stud leg with sliced slivers of garlic; rub all over with harissa (I make my own, thank you, from dried peppers, garlic, coriander, caraway and olive oil blendered together); season with salt, cover with thyme, stick in a fridge overnight. The results as follows:

Roast in an oven for 325 F for two hours; add oil-cured black olives, chopped dried apricots (the recipe calls for 12 ounces; I poured in two pounds worth because I like the taste so much), and one lemon sliced thin then salt-and-sugar cured overnight. Roast until probe thermometer reads 135 F.

And hey presto!

 Rich lamb meat tender and pink as a girl's inner thigh, with a ladling of salty olives, sweet apricots (being dried they sucked up the lamb juices and turned plump), bitter-salty lemon slices (which I tossed--they look great but I could never manage to make them taste good). Paired with baby spinach in a balsamic-olive oil-orange juice-maple syrup dressing:

Ah but for an appetizer I turned to Union Square Cafe's bar nuts--with a few crucial differences. 1) Mixed nuts toasted in an oven ten minutes; 2) butter melted in a pan with cayenne, brown sugar, a sprig of rosemary, and--the crucial difference--instead of sea salt a dash or three of Maggi Seasoning (Andrew Zimmern loves the stuff, but we needn't look to him; grew up with this generously sprinkled over nearly everything I ate).

The results: toasted nuttiness and carmelized sweet with the kick of cayenne; a serious umami hit from the Maggi Seasoning, plus rosemary's floral bouquet. 

For the next dinner--this time Christmas Day (Christmas Eve Luz and I were working)--I just had to had to had to try roast goose Hank Shaw style

Take one perfectly fat goose, pierce skin all over with a sharp knife to allow fat to seep out:

The goose above may look snug and happy but I promise you he's had a thorough acupuncture session--had to truss him to make sure he didn't escape. 
Rub goose all over with both halves of a lemon; stuff lemon halves inside, along with a whole head of garlic with the top sliced off. Season with salt. Roast the sucker in a 325 F oven for forty-five minutes. 

While roasting, chop up the giblets and brown with neck and wing parts on a hot pan. Add chopped onion; add flour; add Madeira wine (I had none, so I improvised with red wine, brandy and brown sugar--no one knew the difference, really!); turn heat up to boil the mess hard, add chicken stock and thyme (scraping up the browned bits), turn heat down, let simmer. 

Slice off the breast (tain't as easy as you might think; took a lot of cutting with a boning knife), sear hard skin side down on a hot frying pan till crispy, serve with gravy, as follows:

Rare goose meat, crispy skin (slightly tart from the lemon juice), thick gravy with the livery earthiness of giblets, a hint of Madeira sweet, a floral thyme scent. 

Not all of the trimmings went into the gravy; some of it I fried as an appetizer of goose cracklings: 

Crispy skin with an underlayer of baby fat (lightly seasoned! You won't believe how quickly this gets salty). Think pig chicharron with the heady taint of poultry, or bird with the heft and richness of pork.

The breastless bird went back to the oven to roast another forty-five minutes, rested, was plated thusly:

 Okay, can I describe this properly? Turkey leg with flavor squared or chicken to the tenth power. Or rather, a meltingly rich and tender pork shoulder, mounted on a drumstick. With skin still crispy, mind.

Day after Christmas was all regret and penance. And an austere bowl of Caprese salad (tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, Tuscan olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper), one of the world's great salads--a delicate balance of tart tomatoes, floral basil, creamy cheese and seasoning:

And that's all she said, folks, only--ho! What's that? Two quarts of goose fat, poured out of the roasting pan? Perfect for frying potatoes with, or kale, or collard greens, or even cauliflower rice (mixed with goose fat then fried or roasted it's awesome). Did I say penance?

No comments:

Post a Comment