Most kitchen projects I can manage with my son lingering in the kitchen, save for things that involve frying or rendering fat. I do have a pressure mounted gate (also helpful for keeping our scrap pleading little dog away whilst I cook) however, some preparations go best when I am not required to continually poke my head around the corner asking;
“What are you doing Dannypants?” (Yes, I do realise that I need to find another nickname for him as he’s likely to be mortified should I ever call him “Danny pants” in front of “the guys.” I suppose Babycakes is out as well?).
Around three PM, he finally could take no more (though he begged “few more minutes”) and I sent him off for a nap whereupon he fell asleep within seconds, hands stuffed down his trousers (apparently a male thing that begins in the toddler years). I extracted his hand, tucked his favourite bear beneath his arm and draped blanket round his shoulders-then literally ran to the kitchen to begin work on the goose.
As I suspected, my upper-body strength is not what it used to be and the actual cutting-up of the pieces to salt and press took just under an hour. Numbness in my fingers didn’t help much either. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer any knife mishaps, though I did get quite a splash with duck fat during the rendering process that I never would have known happened had I not witnessed the splash. I have so little sensation in my fingers (some of them anyway) that scalding fat doesn’t even register. I rinsed my finger beneath cold water and I think luck will give me but a tiny blister for my troubles.
I seasoned the cut-up pieces for the confit following the recipe for preserved goose in Julia Child and More Company. She suggests a mixture of juniper berries, papper, thyme, allspice, ground bay leaves, and coarse salt. I seasoned the pieces (2 breasts W/bones, lower wings, drumsticks) sealed then in an airtight bag and then placed them in a large casserole dish which I weighted with a large tin of tomato juice and a couple of jars filled with water. I’ll let this sit a couple days as I will be unable to deal with it today due to scheduling. An extra day of salting, as I understand it is fine. For longer salting, Child suggests tripling the salt and soaking the duck for an hour before preparing it.
I chopped the skin and fat from the rest of the carcass and wings to render for fat. This took far longer than I would have anticipated based upon my experience with the chicken fat a couple weeks ago. Closer to 1 hour and 45 minutes total. I was careful with the heat though (Child keeps warning, nearly obsessively about scorching the fat) so perhaps I carried the process out a bit longer than necessary. The cracklings I chopped, mixed with leftover salt/herb mixture and placed in a jar with a tablespoon of rendered goose fat over it. It is sitting in the icebox waiting for some crusty bread to spread it on. I know, that’s not “heart-healthy.”
The carcass and organs went into a pot with celery, carrots, bay leaves, pepper, salt, thyme, onion, garlic and a generous handful of fresh, flat parsley. It made a wonderful stock which I will clarify further today before deciding whether to reduce it further into a solid or freeze it as is.
My main concern with preparing a confit was the cost of the goose-what if I ruined a $35.00 bird? While I realise that a family of three can spend more than that for dinner out at a not-very-expensive restaurant, we do not typically dine outside the home (my last meal out was breakfast last Mother’s Day, a year ago May) and to my mind, $35.oo is quite a bit of our food budget. Once I began reaping the by-products of the bird, I realised that a whole goose can be quite economical, provided you do not waste a bit of it. I’m sure when I have 2 cups of rendered goose fat with which to sauté baby turnips or potatoes, I will feel that the ordeal of preparing a goose was worth the effort. Save for the pain in my neck (due to a long time herniated disc problem) that started-up after an hour of chopping and boning a large game bird. Eh, that’s what painkillers and muscle relaxers are for.
I’m a bit concerned that even with two cups of rendered fat, I may not have enough for cooking the goose. Child suggests keeping lard handy, but pork is out of the question in our half-Jewish household. I really don’t care to compensate with Crisco, and am half considering buying a duck today just for rendering the fat. I can use the meat in an Asian dish I’ve been meaning to try (which my husband loves) and it certainly wouldn’t go to waste. I wonder though, just how much fat one duck would yield? See how these things get out of hand? One day you’re making goose confit and the next thing you know, you’re buying extra ducks to complete the recipe. And then the preserved duck, once it is sitting in the icebox-am I obligated to make a cassoulet? I’d have to make my own sausages as well since pork is out. Lamb perhaps? Hmm.
I have an appointment with a “specialist” today to try and determine just how ill I am. Sounds like fun, I know. They gave me an absurdly early appointment which will be a delight getting into the city during rush hour as we live a good fifty miles away. I’ll be toting my small child along as well. Somehow, they neglected to send-out the medical history forms, insurance, etc. so when the snotty (and yes, she truly was) receptionist called to confirm my appointment, she instructed me to arrive an additional fifteen minutes early. Might as well leave at sunrise. I have a very strong sense that I am about to be subjected to what I call “the medical mill” whereupon I will be sent for numerous, unnecessary tests to tell me pretty much that which is already known. That’s the way they do things here. The snooty receptionist duly informed me that I would be required to show evidence of medical insurance before I could be seen. It was so terribly tempting to retort;
“Yes, I know, feral dogs could rip me limb from limb but without the requisite proof of insurance, you’d be forced to leave me bleed to death in the waiting room.” I didn’t of course, though someday I’m afraid I’ll no longer be able to restrain my contempt and begin giving utterance to the resentment that’s been stewing for some time now. Oh, the things I’d love to say sometimes. For the present, I simply repeat things back to people in the same sing-song-as though speaking to a dim-witted-child tone that people who perceive themselves to be “important” take when speaking to the likes of me. Perhaps I should just look the next person that takes that tone with me in the eye and ask them outright if they are brain injured. Sheesh, I shouldn’t have to deal with this when I’m ill and have better things to be doing-like preserving duck into a confit.
I’ve had three hours of sleep, I’m sure that will help my already cross mood and curt manner.