Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wild Goose Compote with baked Vacherin over salad potatoes

I had the following conversation with my brother Siggi:

Him: I have been keeping the legs of all the geese I have shot for the past few years in the freezer but I do not have a recipe. What can I do with them?

Me: ehh!

As my brother is the most prolific hunter I know I knew he was not referring to two or three pairs of goose legs. I just knew I was looking at a massive quantity. I also knew that since he kept the legs on whim they would just have been dumped in a bag and not prepared. I was not looking forward to this. As it turned out he had about 30 pairs (about 5 kg) in his freezer (and therefore not at all the legs he could have had) that had been cleaned to say 90%, therefore not bad at all.

I also knew he was talking about some of the most difficult meat available. The legs from wild geese are dry, sinewy, chewy and gamey to a point where they can not be eaten after any normal preparation. They have nothing in common with the legs of domesticated geese that taste more like duck legs. Normally, you would spend hours removing the sinews and all other undesirable bits before marinating the meat in something with a high ph level to soften the meat.

Alternatively, you can cook the meat for a very long time which magically gets rid of all the “issues” including the sinews. I choose to use the same method as the beer braised beef recipe below with a few changes. I chose to use a darker beer (ended up with Beamish although I was really looking for Guinness) to match the stronger taste of the goose. I also removed the cinnamon but added sage.

After about five hours (when the beer was reduced to about a fifth of the 3 liters I started with) I took out and shredded all the meat. I shredded the meat in my hands so it was quite chunky. I then put the meat back in the sauce after removing all the nasty bits like the stem of the rosemary. The goose meat is so dry at this point that the remaining sauce literally disappeared as I mixed the shredded meat back in so what I ended up with was a kind of compote hence, the name.

When I was ready to serve the meat I reheated the compote (btw, for the pendants out there compote just means stewed even if you’ve only ever encountered it in connection with sugary fruit concoctions) and added about 500 ml of cooking cream. The cream is not strictly speaking necessary but it does bring out the richness of the meat.

The Vachrin dish is the dish I mentioned below in writing about the Anchor and Hope. You simply heat a Vachrin in its wood box in an oven at about 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. The time it takes varies depending on the temperature of the cheese when it goes into the oven. You need to watch the cheese closely by taking it out frequently after the tenth or so minute. The problem with Vachrin is that it hits a point where it goes completely liquid and just runs out of the box. You want to serve it just before that point.

I chose potatoes, which I think of as French salad potatoes that are not starchy but quite firm after boiling, that you can serve with the skin on. To serve I put the potatoes warm (not hot) on a serving plate and slightly crush them and salt with sea salt. I then pour the warm cheese over the potatoes on individual plates and serve with the compote.

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