One of several Zaytuna Farm geese
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh except where credited otherwise
We killed a goose at Zaytuna Farm the other day and by my count we served out 60+ student meals from it, plus two day’s worth of wonderful breakfasts for the staff. Not a bad effort I thought. Pretty good use of a bird. Here’s what we did….
Goose offal on toast accompanied with eggs from our beautiful chickens.
We scramble the eggs with homemade butter that a French friend Jean-Luc brought over as a gift. He also brought homemade cheese and croissants. All good – good eggs, good butter, good Frenchman. Homemade bread toasted on a wood oven stove. Fresh goose offal sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs. Cardamon coffee. Yum.
Hash browns and goose ham with tomarillo relish and sautéed greens – served on grilled toast.
This one took a while to prepare….
Photo credit: Marcelo Severo
You take your goose and remove a breast. Then you take this breast and cure it in a 50/50 (or so) mix of salt and sugar. Spice up your curing mix with aromatics. I used garlic, cloves, juniper berries, fresh cumquat & galangal, some bay leaves… you get the idea.
Muscovy geese rest after a leisurely swim on the Zaytuna dam,
with food forest in background
Photo credit: Marcelo Severo
Cure your breast overnight. Then wash off the curing mix, patting the lovely thing gently dry and laying it skin side down on a heavy pan to render out the fat and crisp up the skin. Do this slowly- on the gentlest heat you can manage. We used the wood stove. Not bad the old wood stove. It also warms up the kitchen on these crisp mornings we’re getting coming into the end of July. And it heats our water, makes the kitchen look pretty and it feeds ash to the compost and if you save your mandarin skins you can put them into a saucepan of water and set it on the stove for the ultimate kitchen incense….
And it sure is nice to toast our bread on it while we slice up the goose ham and fry up the hash browns – made with potatoes from the crop garden, cooked in the rendered goose fat and Jean-Luc’s good butter, plus a little relish made with tomarillo & galangal plucked from the food forests, some sautéed greens straight out of the kitchen garden. What else could you possibly want?
Life is good while it lasts
How do you stretch one goose missing a breast into lunch for 30 people? You throw it into a pot and cover it with water. Cold water. Put it on the stove and once it starts boiling, bring it down to a gentle simmer. Skim the scum off the surface. (Not much scum on these birds, they live a healthy clean life and are naturally free of impurities.) Throw in some carrot and onion, a few celery leaves, a bay leaf or two, some peppercorns, a piece of lemon. Simmer gently for a couple of hours.
Drain your bird, keeping your stock of course. Eat the feet if you like. They’re pretty tasty. I never used to think so but then my boss – a smart Jordanian woman by the name of Nadia showed me the trick. Peel the skin off dummy. With the skin on, goose feet are tasty-but-tough. With the skin off it’s another story. There’s nothing between you and the sweetness. A real treat. Thanks Nadia. And thanks for shredding the meat off the goose carcass too. I’ve worked with a lot of good chefs and I’ve never seen one strip a bird as economically and quickly as Nadia can.
Photo credit: Marcelo Severo
I make a couscous in her honour, marinating the grain in olive oil spiced up with toasted and crushed cumin seed. I use the stock to soak the couscous – one litre of hot stock for every kilo of grain. Then fold the shredded meat through with some roasted carrot, dried fruit soaked in tea, toasted nuts and seeds, fried onions, fried garlic, fried ginger, lots of fresh herbs from the garden and a refreshing squeeze of lemon juice. Tasty. And plentiful….
Leftover shredded goose couscous.
Stretched it out for the next day’s lunch by accompanying it with radishes, dips and a quick salad. Worked out well for me because I ended up with a little more time up my sleeve to stay outside and dwell in the garden, picking radishes, lettuces and herbs at my leisure, eating the occasional chive flower or deliciously sweet strawberry, marveling at life’s miracle as the blue wrens flickered about the lemongrass border and the giant bamboos creaked in the wind. Mmmm… bamboo shoots. Coming soon…. Why can’t everywhere be like this? It is possible after all.
Chocolate cassava cake.
The Brazilian take on cassava cake is you grate enough fresh cassava root to fill the tray you want to bake your cake in. Bind it with grated coconut, sugar, eggs, coconut milk and mix it all together. Bake till it sets. You can’t go wrong. You could eat this thing raw. My other boss, a smart Englishman named Geoff, does his cassava cake with cream and honey instead of coconut milk and sugar. He likes to use what the farm provides and who can blame him?
But no honey for anybody this time. No one has harvested the honey from the hives lately and I haven’t the faintest idea how it’s done. I take the safer option and grab a bottle of pomegranate molasses. There’s my sweetness. As soon as I pour it in, my nice cassava cake mix turns a not-so-nice colour. I add cocoa to cover up the slip. Chocolate cassava cake it is. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, a touch of chili. I use oil instead of cream or coconut milk and into the oven it goes. Came up ok. Kind of overdid it with the molasses. Turned out more of a slice than a cake but nobody complained.
Colcannon mash and a beef pie made up of a sloppy delicious mess of leftovers. What made it delicious was the beef we used but I’ll get to the cows here at Zaytuna Farm at a later date. There’s just too much to say about them and I really want to talk to you about the mash.
You see, like I wrote last week, we’ve got lots of potatoes here. Lots. And lots of cabbage and kale too. And if you want to know how to cook lots of potatoes and cabbage and kale on a cold winters night, you ask the Irish. And if you listen well you’ll be told something like Colcannon mash.
So caramelize some shredded onions in butter and oil. Chop up some of the ever-abundant cabbage and kale, and throw them in too. When you sauté these things, (especially in big batches) it’s good to add a little at a time rather than all in one heap, so that the ingredients caramelize properly instead of stewing and turning sour.
And with the potatoes it’s good to peel them and cut them all roughly the same size. Put them in a pot and cover with cold water. I like to throw in a few garlic cloves too – they go all soft and creamy and they mash up with the potatoes nicely. When they come to the boil, start keeping an eye on them and take them off the heat as soon as they’re done. Drain and throw them into your pot with the caramelized loveliness of onion, cabbage and kale. Throw in as much butter and cream as you can handle, a little nutmeg and maybe some roughly chopped parsley. Mash it all up and slop it onto a warm plate. Throw on a chunk of good beef pie, and maybe a little tomarillo relish to spice things up a bit. Then settle down to a nice warm comforting dinner after a relaxing day of economical cooking using leftovers and the steady garden supply. Cold Channon mash? Yes please.