Thursday, December 22, 2016

Not Another Christmas Dinner

Not another Christmas dinner

As with Thanksgiving I'm working Christmas Eve into Day and as with that other occasion the one silver lining in this dreary grey raincloud of a sitch is that I get to post my holiday meal before anyone else, so there!

Managed to score a four-plus-pound dry-aged rib roast from Wegman's in State College (it only cost an arm and a leg). Took the simplest recipe I could find because I'm doing two roasts and couldn't afford the grief of a complicated cook. Was going to do the mustard-and-flour crust described in the recipe when I realized "Waitaminute--I made my own harissa last time, and have some left over." So I rubbed that on my roast instead:

If the setup looks funny that's because our fridge is tiny and packed, and standing was the only way I could fit my meat in there. Left the roast in the fridge overnight.

Prepping the goose (bought from Giant Foods, only place where it's available, and only around this time of the year) from this recipe took a little more effort. Pricked the skin all over with a knife, cut a lemon and rubbed both halves into the skin, then stuck the lemon rinds up the goose's whatever, along with a head of garlic with half an inch of the tip cut off.

Hence the pricked goose with offending knife:

The beef was straightforward: season the meat with plenty of kosher salt before roasting at 450 F for twenty minutes. Then reduce temperature to 325 F (cooking temp for goose which shares oven space), stick a probe thermometer in the thickest part, and leave in there till the roast registers 115 F internal temperature, then rest for twenty minutes (the meat's interior temp will rise up to 125 F in the meantime). 

The results:

The goose not having a thermometer I had to do some on-the-spot guessing. The recipe mentioned cooking for twenty minutes before pulling out and carving off the breasts. Breasts put aside, kept roasting the goose till the beef was ready, then pulled out the beef (nicely cooked as you can see above thank you) and stuck the probe thermometer into the goose carcass, waiting till internal temperature hits 165 F.

Results as follows:

Somewhere along the way I boiled three pounds of small yellow potatoes in water with garlic, dried rosemary, dried thyme and salt for 7 minutes, as according to this recipe I found (used dried herbs because I was too lazy to go out and buy fresh). Poured six tablespoons of goose fat in a pan, put them in a 400 F oven for five minutes till sizzling, dumped potatoes garlic cloves rosemary thyme and peppercorns into the pans, roasted the potatoes for forty minutes while the meats rested.

Well okay didn't go exactly that way--when the beef came out I put the potatoes in their place, pulled the spuds out after twenty minutes, mashed them down a bit with a fork (to increase surface area for crisping), seasoned them with a little more salt, put them back in. When the goose was done pulled that out, increased the oven temp to 400 F (remember I had to keep the oven at 325 F for the goose), waited till the potatoes looked like this:

Ain't they cute?

Sliced and served the beef with a quick side of arugula dressed with olive oil and sweet balsamic from Weyira Olive Oil Company (and yes if I keep mentioning them it's because their stuff is that good, and at a lower price than you'd find elsewhere). 

Beef is give-up-the-soul tender with the faintest scent of funk and livery flavor, possibly from the dry-aging; the arugula made for a perfectly peppery accompaniment, while the dressing--Weyira's 18-year-old balsamic which rolls in the tongue like fruit syrup, thick sweet slightly tart--adds a touch of indulgence to the plate. 

The goose recipe called for making a gravy out of the neck, skin and innards, but I seasoned the liver with salt and pepper, seared it hard in a cast iron pan, served it as an amuse bouche; took the neck skin, seasoned similarly, fried till crisped, and served that too. 

As for gravy (see above goose recipe) I browned the neck and giblets, added a chopped onion, added flour, stirred till combined. Was about to add Madeira when I realized: holy moley didn't have any, so I used the Weyira balsamic instead. Added chicken stock, took the garlic head out of the bird's cavity, squeezed all that roasted garlic into the gravy to flavor and thicken.

The goose breast I seared hard on a cast iron pan, mashing to make sure the whole side of skin was well-browned, then finished the meat in the oven at 325 F (full disclosure: as the potatoes were still cooking I just plopped the breasts on top of them; didn't seem to hurt the meat, and certainly didn't hurt the taters).

Pulled the meat, rested, served with potatoes herbs and gravy thusly:

I've called goose a 'pig with feathers;' goose breast served medium rare is  like a richer version of steak topped with a crispy crust (between the two I think I prefer the breast). As for the gravy I didn't miss the Madeira at all; the syrupy vinegar was tart enough to cut the fattiness and sweet enough to send the brain into sensory overload (Meat! Fat! Sweet! Sweet fat meat!). Arugula's pepperiness complemented (as always) the beefy flesh; as for the potatoes O lord the potatoes (more on them later). 

Served the leg too (see top photo) and where the breast was like steak the leg was like a pork chop on a stick: you picked it up, you brought it close to your mouth, you tore into the porky flesh (with just the slightest gaminess from big poultry) with drooling lips. Turkey, that bland pale excuse for a bird? Never heard of it. 

O as for those potatoes: the goose fat crisped them up and turned them into golden-brown nuggets of voluptuousness, as you can see:

They look like roasted chestnuts, though I've yet to meet a chestnut this magically crispy, with loamy soft interior and amazing buttery flavor as if I'd ground up the spuds, mixed in maybe a pound of butter, rolled them into balls and deep-fried them in lard--a silly thought; all I did was roast em in goose fat. They were the first thing to run out during the meal, leaving us gazing mournfully at an empty empty pan.

Too tired to do a dessert. Just broke out the Vin Santo (which cost another arm and a leg, even the cheaper bottles) and started dipping biscotti into the glass (the proper way to eat biscotti; dipping the biscuit in coffee is plain silly). 

So--a working Christmas? Bring it on. Got a Tupperware full of goose flesh in balsamic sauce to keep me company.

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