goose
My favorite part of any bird is the dark meat – besides the skin, dark meat is the only real “flavor country” found in foul.  I’m particularly fond of duck because both the leg and breast meat is darker than you’ll find in a chicken or a turkey.  But ducks are relatively small and, shall we say, flat-chested.  A goose, however, is a much more curvaceous creature and offers quite a lot to love.  Like ducks, geese fly quite a lot.  And just like in any other animal (that I’m aware of), the more a muscle needs to work, the darker its meat will be.  So, geese end up being an animal composed entirely of dark meat!

But, if the idea of roasting a goose gives you anxious visions of forgotten kitchen timers and smoking ovens, let me assure you that there’s a better way.  Just like a turkey or a duck or a chicken, a goose is a great candidate for sous vide cooking.  I started with a whole goose, which I carved into four pieces: two breasts and two legs.  I packed each piece in a vacuum bag with salt, aromatics and fat, then cooked sous vide.  Just before serving, I shallow-fried each of the pieces to brown and crisp the skin.  In reality, I treated the goose just like I was cooking duck confit, sous vide style.  This was phenomenally easy, risk-free and wonderfully delicious.

Many thanks to Whole Foods for providing a complimentary whole goose for the development of this recipe.

Shopping list:

  • 1 whole goose, thawed
  • 40g kosher salt
  • 35g juniper berries
  • 65g light brown sugar
  • 10g fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1g cinnamon stick, microplaned (or ground cinnamon)
  • 150g rendered duck fat
  • Canola oil, for frying
  1. Rinse the goose thoroughly and remove the neck from the interior of the body.  Reserve the neck for another use.
  2. Remove the legs and thighs.  With the goose breast-side-up, grab the end of the drumstick and pull the leg outward from the body of the goose.  Cut through the skin underneath the rib cage as you pull the leg away.  Flip the goose over and fold the leg away from the body until the “hip” joint is visible.  Run your knife through the hip joint to free the leg and thigh.  Trim away excess fat and skin, leaving enough to cover the meat.  Repeat for the other leg.
  3. Remove the breasts by making an incision through the skin of the breastbone.  Allow your knife to follow the contour of the rub cage on one side and peel the breast away as you cut .  Trim away excess fat and skin.  You may save the fat, carcass and wings for another use, such as a pressure-cooked goose stock.
  4. Combine the salt, juniper berries, brown sugar, rosemary and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Mix to combine, gently crushing the aromatics to release their oils.  Toss each goose piece in the salt mixture until well-coated.
  5. Divide the duck fat among four vacuum bags (or two, one for breasts, one for legs).  Place the goose pieces in their respective bags and toss in any juniper berries and rosemary that may have been left behind.  Vacuum seal on high.  Refrigerate overnight.
  6. Preheat a sous vide bath to 62C.  Add the goose legs and cook for 18 hours.  If you’re not serving the goose immediately, remove the bag and chill in an ice bath.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Preheat a sous vide bath to 54C.  Add the goose breasts and cook for 6 hours.  If you’re not serving the goose immediately, remove the bag and chill in an ice bath. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Note: If you have two sous vide baths, you can perform the previous two steps simultaneously. If you only have one sous vide bath and don’t want to wait quite as long, you can turn the temperature down from 62C to 54C after 12 hours and add the breasts to the same bath as the legs. The legs won’t turn out quite as flaky, but they’ll still be delicious.
  8. Heat a large pot of canola oil 1/2” deep to 400F.  Remove the goose from the vacuum bags and wipe off any juniper berries or rosemary that may be clinging to the skin.  The meat will be wet from the duck fat, but that’s OK for frying.
  9. Working one piece at a time, fry the legs skin-side-down for about 1 minute or until golden brown.  Flip and fry for an additional minute skin-side-up.
  10. Fry the breasts, skin-side-down only, for about 1 minute or until the skin is golden brown.
  11. Slice as desired and serve immediately.

As you’ll notice in the picture above, geese have a hefty layer of fat underneath their skin.  This helps them stay buoyant and warm, and I personally enjoy eating the fatty exterior, which is made soft and delectable by the long cooking time.  However, if you want to reduce the fat layer and you have a little extra time on your hands, before step 4, remove the skin from each piece of goose.  Using the back of your knife, scrape the fat away from the underside of the skin.  Dust the skin with Activa RM (transglutaminase; meat glue) and place it back on the meat before vacuum sealing.  It’s a little trick I learned from Modernist Cuisine, which has quite a lot to say about cooking tough and tender meat sous vide.

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2011 gift guide

I’ve assembled a list of must-have cooking gear, kitchen toys, and foodie fetishes for 2011.  If you have a food geek in your life and you’re looking for gift inspiration, I’m here to help.  They say “‘tis better to give,” but ‘tis best to give to someone who’ll cook you dinner in return!

 

zoom_variation_Default_view_2_1278x1278[1] Bob Kramer 10" Carbon Steel Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. Henckels®
Say hello to the “it knife” of 2011. Bob Kramer is the only Master Bladesmith in the world who specializes in culinary knifes, and his rare, hand-made blades sell for thousands of dollars.  (see my post on touring Bob Kramer’s workshop.)  Now, he’s produced a line of exceptional quality carbon steel cutlery that conforms to his exacting standards, but is affordable enough for the home chef. 

$349.95 – Sur La Table
$349.95 –
Amazon.com

Original_large_jar_single_sm[1] Skillet Bacon Jam
Seattle residents are already familiar with the spreadable jar of heaven known as “Bacon Jam”.  Produced by the same Skillet group that brought us the Skillet Street Food truck and the Skillet Diner,  the jam is a mixture of rendered bacon and spices that adds a succulent kick to sandwiches, burgers, omelets, Ritz crackers, or any other bacon-submissive food.  Makes a great stocking stuffer – just hope you can fit into your stockings after you’ve plowed through a jar.

$15.95 – Amazon.com

sample-lesson-handling-a-chef-s-knife-l Rouxbe Cooking School
In this day and age, anything that’s worth doing is worth doing online – learning to cook is no exception.  Rouxbe is the world’s leading online cooking school that teaches people of all levels to become better, more confident cooks.  Focused on techniques, not recipes, Rouxbe offers over 1,100 close-up instructional videos that capture the exact same curriculum found in professional cooking schools around the world.

$23.00/month (other packages available) – Rouxbe.com

97P_2[1] SousVide Supreme
Any serious food geek cooks sous vide.  And those who don’t?  Well, they’re waiting for you to buy them a sous vide machine… that is, if you’re not up for building one yourself.  By far, the easiest way to get started with sous vide cooking is the SousVide Supreme line of water ovens.  Their machines are available in multiple sizes and colors and they’re currently running some fantastic deals for the holidays, including a Modernist Cuisine gift set!

$299 and up – SousVideSupreme.com

405P_2[1] VacMaster Chamber Vacuum Sealer
Whether you’re cooking sous vide or tackling a whole slew of other modernist techniques, a vacuum sealer is an absolute necessity.  FoodSaver-style sealers work fine for dry foods, but for wet foods like meat and fish or liquids of any kind, you need a chamber sealer.  Unlike an edge sealer, which sucks all of the air out of the bag from one edge, the VacMaster removes the air from the entire chamber, then seals the bag.  When the vacuum is released, the pressure of the atmosphere compresses the bag against its contents for a fool-proof, air-free seal with no messy liquid sucked from the edge of the bag. 

$799 – SousVideSupreme.com
$824 – Amazon.com

31Jl2MVO1hL._SL500_AA300_[1] Excalibur 3500 Deluxe Series 5 Tray Food Dehydrator
If you thought dehydrators were just for jerky and fruit snacks, you’re missing a whole world of possible applications for dried foods.  For example, why not whip up some Shrimp in Cocktail Leather for your next dinner party?  The Excalibur dehydrator is the brand trusted by chefs everywhere.  The rectangular drying trays provide 8 square feet of drying space, and the 85º – 145ºF thermostat let’s you dehydrate everything from soup to nuts (and yes, jerky too)!

$189.95 – Amazon.com

31kZziKIS L._SS500_[1] Presto 1755 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker/Canner
For some reason, lots of folks think of pressure cookers as “your grandmother’s kitchen gadget”.  And, while it’s true that grannie may have reached for her pressure cooker as a way to save time in the kitchen, their usefulness extends well beyond expediency.  Pressure cookers are fantastic for extracting flavors, for example, when making stocks and sauces.  When coupled with a little baking soda, they’re also key to making the best vegetable soups I’ve ever tasted.  I’d recommend purchasing a pressure canner rather than just a pressure cooker.  The difference is the inclusion of a pressure gauge which allows you to can many foods that you couldn’t otherwise safely preserve.

$71.99 – Amazon.com

noble2forwebsite_large[1] Noble Tonics: Handcrafted Matured Maple Syrups & Vinegars
This is my new favorite breakfast condiment: Tahitian Vanilla Bean & Egyptian Chomomile Blossom Matured Maple Syrup.  Just speaking its name evokes images of meticulous artisans patiently watching over these syrups as they mature in charred American oak barrels. It is to maple syrup what Château d’Yquem is to wine.  The complete line includes two maple syrups, a sherry bourbon oak vinegar, an heirloom lemon matured white wine vinegar, and XO, a viscous, rich “finishing vinegar”. 

$22.95 – $69.95 – MikuniWildHarvest.com
Disclosure: I received a free sample of Noble Tonic products.

eleven-madison-park-cookbook[1] Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook
Although this cookbook was only released a few weeks ago, it’s already one of the most talked-about cookbooks of the year.  And rightfully so – this book is so much more than a cookbook; it is a window into the soul of Eleven Madison Park.  Featuring breathtaking photography and over 125 sophisticated recipes, this will be one of the [very few] cookbooks I reference on a regular basis, both for inspiration and for technique. 

$31.50 [hardcover] – Amazon.com

51LIb8k9UsL[1] Momofuku Milk Bar
Imagine an incredible collection of desserts that all seem like they were designed by stoners with phenomenal pastry skills.  That would, more or less, be Monofuku Milk Bar.  Written by pastry chef Christina Tosi, the book includes an entire section on cereal milk ice creams.  Other notable dishes include the infamous “crack pie”, “compost cookie”, and “gutter sundae” (directions: Go to the hardware store.  Buy a gutter.  Invite your friends and family over.  Make a gutter sundae to celebrate).  Yet, somehow, the whole thing is irresistible!

$20.18 – Amazon.com

51yZfDAPv5L._SS500_[1] Lucky Peach
This has been a great year for chef David Chang and his ever-expanding influence.  Case in point: Lucky Peach.  In an era when print publishing is dying a very public death, Chang had the chutzpah to start his own food journal.  Issue Two’s theme is "The Sweet Spot," and will feature Rene Redzepi on vintage vegetables, Tajikistani apricots with Adam Gollner, a visit to Callaway Golf and Louisville Slugger, time-sensitive fermentation, banana pie with Momofuku Milk Bar chef Christina Tosi, and much, much more.

$9.50/issue – Amazon.com

9781452102122[1] Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker
Top Pot Doughnuts are a treasured part of Seattle’s edible landscape.  Let it be said that no other doughnut pairs as well with a nonfat, fair trade, soy, double, vanilla cappuccino.  Committed bakers, casual home cooks, and sweet-toothed fans will eat up these 50 tried-and-true recipes from classic Old-Fashioneds to the signature Pink Feather Boa and become experts themselves after learning the secrets of doughnut-making tools, terms, and techniques (no, you don t need a deep fryer).

$10.98 – Amazon.com

set_4_hires[1] Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
If you’re searching for a food geek gift that will make all others pale in comparison, look no further.  For the price of a stand mixer and a handful of tasteful stocking stuffers, you can give the gift that will keep your food geek cooking for a lifetime.  I’ve already written quite a bit about Modernist Cuisine, but for the first time ever, you can wrap it in a bow and put it under the tree.  Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a 40 lb. cookbook!

$450.84 – Amazon.com

215K8IK9AuL._SL500_AA300_[1] iSi Professional Food & Cream Gourmet Whipper
Thanks to Ferran Adria and others, the term “culinary foam” now means more than whipped cream.  If you’re interested in experimenting with foam-at-home, you’ll need to own a whipping siphon.  A now-essential part of both sweet and savory preparations, whipping siphons are also great for quick infusions and making carbonated snacks.  Unlike cheaper siphons, this model is designed to handle more viscous liquids commonly called for in modernist preparations.

$138.99 – Amazon.com
iSi N20 Cream Chargers, 24-Pack: $15.75 – Amazon.com

31FuCZ3ZK5L._SS360_[1] Krups 203 Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder with Stainless-Steel blades
Textural transformations are a hallmark of modernist cooking, and powders play in important role in achieving the correct mouthfeel and presentation of many dishes.  If you’ve ever attempted to turn a solid into a powder using a blender or food processor, you’ll understand why it’s important to have the right tool for the job.  This spice grinder is compact, inexpensive and incredibly efficient at making very fine powders in a matter of seconds.

$19.00 – Amazon.com

81CeBRtBEjS._AA1500_[1] Canon EOS 5D Mark II with EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
Modern food-enthusiasts (see how hard I tried not to use the word “foodie”?) never travel without a camera in-hand.  But, approaching your plate of foie gras and truffles with a cell phone camera is as gauche as wearing a sport coat and shorts just to spite the dress code.  If you or the food geek in your life are ready to get serious about food photography, there’s currently no better value than the iconic Canon 5D Mark II.  It shoots 21MP stills and broadcast-quality video, all for less than a bottle of Chateau Margaux. 

$3,019.98 – Amazon.com

81YdqnjI56L._AA1500_[1] Nikon 1 J1 10.1 MP HD Digital Camera System with 10-30mm VR 1 NIKKOR Lens
So, you’ve realized that you want to improve your food photography, but you don’t want to lug a giant (and conspicuous) DSLR to every restaurant you visit.  Nikon’s “1” line is a brand new imaging system that’s designed to be highly portable and highly performant.  Featuring interchangeable lenses, a high-speed sensor for great low-light shooting, and the ability to snap stills while you’re shooting 1080p HD video, this is a great camera for the fooderazzi. 

$599.00 – Amazon.com

Happy Holidays,

Scott

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food geek christmas gifts
The season of giving is upon us, and that means it’s time to start Christmas shopping for the food geek in your life.  Let’s face it: he (or she… but who are we kidding, it’s a he) is hard to shop for.  He already owns 4 kinds of microplanes, he’s got more cookbooks than Barnes & Noble, and his spice rack is organized by atomic weight.  A waffle iron just isn’t gonna cut it this year.

For just that reason, I’ve rounded up the best and geekiest kitchen gifts of 2010.  And, if you’re feeling extra generous, I also threw in a few “luxury items” sure to induce a Christmas morning nerdgasm.

 

Books

2010 was a great year for cookbooks.  In fact, all of the books below are new this year, with the exception of Modernist Cuisine, which is available for preorder but won’t ship until March.  At $475, it’s not exactly a stocking stuffer, but you can spread out the joy by wrapping each of the five volumes separately. 

Modernist Cooking “Ingredients”

If the food geek on your Christmas list is dying to pull off the latest techniques, he’ll need some ingredients.  I’ve found the WillPowder brand to be a great value for the price.

 

Essential Kitchen Gear

Who doesn’t like playing with new toys?  Over the last year, prices of induction cooktops have plummeted.  They are a great way to expand your stovetop capacity, and they’re extremely energy efficient for heating small quantities of food. 

 

In My Dreams…

Some guys dream of sports cars, some guys dream of rotor/stater homogenizers.  Here is the equipment in the kitchen of my dreams. 

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