My adventures recreating Alinea Restaurant’s food at home

GOOSE, Blood Orange, Sage, Roasting Goose Aromas (Part 1)

Alinea Recipe, pages 360-365.

“There never was such a goose. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration…”
— Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol

This is one of my top favorite recipes from the Alinea Restaurant cook book so far!

Although this dish requires three days to make — two if you cheat like I did — the component recipes are all straightforward cooking. There are quite a bit of sous vide shenanigans that you could easily replace with conventional oven roasting. (Moreso than in any other Alinea Cookbook recipe I’ve completed so far.) And you could replace the veal stock with store-bought stock if needed.

Placing a sizzling-hot river rock in the aroma bowl…

It’s an artful play on the classic Christmas goose dinner — complete with stuffing, sweet potatoes and turnips. Not to forget the homey aroma of spiced orange and nutmeg wafting through the happy house during a cold, rainy winter. It might even cause Ebenezer Scrooge to crack a smile in nostalgic delight, when all is taken in!

Speaking of winter, it’s been a crazy one here in San Diego. In the course of two months we’ve had snow storms in the mountains, flash flood warnings, high surf advisories, and tornado warnings! Not to mention the San Diego River overflowing and flooding Mission Valley. I even had a run-in with an emergency call box. Total hydroplaning at 40mph. Woohoo! Nothing like an accident to get you in a cheery holiday mood.

Tornadoes in San Diego, and aggressive freeway signage…

But I digress, let’s get started…

Day One

Early in the morning, I went to a local farmer’s market, the Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market. I found some insanely fragrant fresh thyme, organic onions and carrots from Schaner Farms. I went to Iowa Meat Farms (6041 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego, CA 92120, 619-281-5766) and bought some veal bones, a goose, and some foie gras.

Veal Stock
I made a batch of veal stock, as per the Alinea component recipe. To save a little time and effort, I made only the first-stage stock, simmering it for a straight 14 hours over the day. I had other things to prep. Yeah, yeah I know — sacrilege and all that. But come on, I was trying to do this in two days…

Veal bones, cut into 2-inch chunks, from Iowa Meat Farms
Beef feet, cut into 2-inch chunks, from Vien Dong World Food Supermarket
Organic Schaner Farms onions, from Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Carrots, from Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Whole, black Tellicherry peppercorns
Fresh Schaner Farms thyme, from Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Tomato paste

Prepping the Goose
I broke down the goose. This recipe uses the whole goose: breasts, legs, skin, and even the bones for stock.

I had just a few nibbles left for my very interested feline kitchen help, Napoleon and Lulu…

The saved breasts and legs and reserved the remainder for goose stock.

One eight-pound goose

Goose Stock
The Alinea recipe calls for ten pounds of goose bones. Since I don’t own a restaurant and don’t have access to obscene amount of goose parts, nor care to make that much stock, I decided to cut the recipe in half. So I used the bones from my single, lonely, dear-departed goose.

I left some of the skin and meat on the bones for a little extra flavor. I roasted the bones, neck, gizzard (and remainder of the goose to render out as much fat as possible) for an hour at 450ºF.

On hindsight, I should have reserved some of the skin for the stuffing.

Rendered Goose Fat

I strained the drippings through a paper towel-lined sieve…

…and reserved the rendered goose fat for the Goose Leg Confit.

Then threw the bones in a stock pot, which I had to borrow from my brother-in-law. I only own one stock pot, but needed two for this recipe. I ended up using three!

Mise en place:

I covered the bones with water and brought them to a boil on high heat, then reduced to barely a simmer. I added the veggies, bay leaves, peppercorns, tomato paste, and let the stock barely simmer for about about six hours.

All the while it was reducing, I regularly skimmed off the foam and impurities. Then I strained the goose stock through a chinois into a large pot and reduced a little more.

Reserved goose bones, gizzard and skin
Fresh leeks, roughly cut into 3-inch pieces, from Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Organic Schaner Farms onions, roughly cut into 3-inch pieces, from Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Carrots, roughly cut into 3-inch pieces, from Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Fresh bay leaves, from my garden
Whole, black Tellicherry peppercorns
Tomato paste

Goose Leg Confit
I also halved this recipe, using two goose legs instead of four. Mise en place.

I pulverized the whole cloves in my spice grinder, ground the nutmeg, and finely zested the orange with a Microplane grater. Then I combined the kosher salt, sugar, orange zest, pink salt, cloves, nutmeg and pepper in a medium bowl.

And mixed together thoroughly with a whisk.

Then covered the goose legs with the salt cure, and refrigerated, covered, overnight.

Morton’s kosher salt
C&H cane sugar
Clementine orange zest, finely grated with a Microplane
Morton’s Tender Quick curing salt (or other “pink” salt)
Freshly ground whole cloves
Freshly ground whole nutmeg
Black pepper
Goose legs, skin-on, reserved from goose
Rendered goose fat, reserved from goose

Cured Goose Breast
I also halved this recipe, using two goose breasts instead of four. Mise en place:

A while back, I contacted Terra Spice (PO Box 26, 605 Roosevelt Rd, Walkerton, Indiana 46574, tel 574-586-2600) for some specialty ingredients, particularly akudjura for LAMB, Akudjura, Olive, Eucalyptus Veil. They have almost every spice you need to make the recipes from Alinea cook book, and are very friendly and helpful on the phone.

Phillip Abbot started Terra Spice in Walkerton, Indiana years ago, and now supplies many chefs and restaurants including Alinea, with those oh-so-hard-to-find spices. I spoke with Judy Shertzer, and she set me up with whole blade mace (US$62.00/lb), and some other spices. I’ll be using these others in upcoming posts. Terra Spice sells in one-pound and larger quantities, so you may have to pitch in with a friend or neighbor for some.

Whole blade mace (US$10.99/lb) is also available online from the Spice House (1512 North Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610, tel 312-274-0378).

What is blade mace?

Mace is the lacy, reddish, outer-covering (the aril) of the nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) seed.

“Should you open the small, plum-sized fruit of the nutmeg tree, inside you would find the nutmeg protectively covered by the thin, lacy-looking scarlet-colored shell that we know as mace. After the mace is peeled from the shell and dried, its beautiful scarlet color fades to a light brown. Its flavor is similar to, but more delicate than, the sturdy nutmeg.”

I ground up the whole blade mace, peppercorns and allspice berries in my spice grinder.

Into a fine powder…

Then combined in a medium bowl with the kosher salt and sugar.

And whisked together thoroughly.

I covered the goose breasts with the sugar-salt cure, and refrigerated, covered, overnight.

Whole, dried blade mace, from Terra Spice
Whole, black Tellicherry peppercorns
Whole, dried allspice berries
Morton’s kosher salt
C&H cane sugar
Goose breasts, reserved from goose

Sweet Potato Confit
I went to my local Asian market, Vien Dong World Foods Supermarket and got some yams. I like them better than the regular ol’ sweet potatoes.

Japanese yam, top, garnet yam, bottom.

I cut them up in two-inch cubes, then used a deep metal biscuit cutter to cut out rounds from these.

Then I sliced them into half-inch thick discs, and finally cut these into “half-moons.” That’s a lotta cutting, and it stained my cutting board a bright orange! The remaining scraps I cut into a small dice and froze. I use these for a sweet potato-mushroom risotto my family likes.

I put them in a vacuum bag with some rendered goose fat, and sealed them up with my FoodSaver vacuum sealer.

Sweet potatoes or yams, from Vien Dong World Foods Supermarket
Rendered goose fat, reserved from goose

Turnip Confit
I cut the turnip into one-inch-long, half-inch-square planks. Then trimmed them into cylindrical “logs”, rather than using a half-inch-round cutter. The turnip was too dense and my cookie cutter too shallow to work properly.

I put them in a vacuum bag with some rendered goose fat, and sealed them up with my FoodSaver vacuum sealer. This recipe, I found that the “dry” setting worked the best, even if i had liquid in the bag. Previously, every time I’d tried using the “wet” setting, it barely worked at all…

Fresh turnips
Rendered goose fat, reserved from goose

Now I had a lot prepped, marinating, curing, vacuum-packed and ready to roll for the next day!

Next, GOOSE, Blood Orange, Sage, Roasting Goose Aromas (Part 2)

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