Sunday, January 30, 2011

Goose Prosciutto: Charcutepalooza - Challenge 1

I was very excited to stumble across the Charcutepalooza challenge a couple weeks ago and somehow manage to slide in my blog at the last minute.  Since we started raising heritage pigs two years ago in an effort to rediscover the lost taste of pork, I have been seeking out resources on artisanal and traditional uses of the animal.  One of the best is the book "Charcuterie", by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. When I saw the cooking / blogging competition at Mrs Wheelbarrow's Kitchen based on this book I couldn't resist testing out the blend of my farming and culinary interests.  As much as possible I will be using meats that we raise on our property for the project.  We'll see how practical that is, but if I can pull it off with a few of our own animals it would be fantastic.

Goose in Center for Proscuitto
The fist of twelve challenges is duck prosciutto, which is a straightforward salt cured dish that is very good as  a start to curing at home.  Luck has it that I didn't have duck on hand (we will be raising Muscovies in 2011), but we did happen to have some geese that we raised for the holiday season.  Geese have proven to be easy and inexpensive to raise, as they graze on grass and weeds and pretty much take care of themselves.  But don't let their photogenic pastoral beauty fool you - they are monsters when they chase the kids around the property and leave a horrifying mess in the most inconvenient of places.

Cleaned & Ready for Creativity
The elegant depth of a well prepared goose is hard to pass up, however.  The stuffed holiday goose was fantastic and we also just finished a goose confit that was mind blowing.  Plucking and cleaning a goose is a rather steep commitment, so I like to make sure the final dish is one to be memorable. So off we go to the recipe.

Ready to Go

First the breasts are carefully removed, which will be used for the main dish.  The thighs and legs are cut away for confit and the rest of the parts will be used for stock.  Goose makes a wonderful silky stock that adds a delicate richness to certain soups that is hard to achieve with chicken.  There's a fair amount of fat left on the carcass, which I will render from the stock pot and use for confit and pan frying.

Basic Salt Curing

Next, the breasts are covered in Kosher salt and refrigerated for 24 hours.

Salted Goose Breast

After 24 hours, the goose breasts are rinsed with water, patted dry, seasoned and wrapped in cheesecloth for drying.  One of the breasts was covered with white pepper, which is straight from the duck prosciutto recipe in "Charcuterie".  The second was covered with a mix of white pepper, juniper berries, thyme and cracked black peppercorns.

Salt & Sugar Cured Salmon
As a side note, being a bit of an efficiency freak when it comes to food, I dropped a salmon fillet I had on hand into the remaining salt cure and topped it off with some additional salt, dill, table sugar and brown sugar.  These are the basic ingredients I use for Gravlax minus the brandy (which I'm terribly allergic to).  I also took a tip from Michael on this recipe as well and doubled the amount of sugar I typically use.

Hanging to Dry
Back to the goose. After the goose breast was seasoned and wrapped in cheesecloth, they were hung in our pantry, which is semi unheated.  It is attached to our kitchen, but doesn't have a heat source and sits on stilts, so it get's cold when closed off.  The conditions there aren't ideal, but are the best in the house.  My estimate is the temperature fluctuated between the low 40s and high 50s during the drying process.  It was also drier than ideal, but the goose didn't seem to mind and it came out very well.

Goose Prosciutto
The goose had a huge layer of fat and was quite a bit thicker than duck, so I let it dry a few extra days.  At day 12 it was ready to pull down and use.  The extra time added a crust to the meat side of the breast, but wrapping it in plastic softened it up quite a bit and it sliced beautifully.  I can't wait for book club tonight where I'll be serving a platter of homemade charcuterie including the goose prosciutto, cured salmon, venison chorizo and goose rillettes.

Goos  Prosciutto: Charcutepalooza on Punk Domestics

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