Improvisational Tuscan-Provençal-Catalan Cookery (and other good stuff to eat)
Still a couple of weeks 'til Christmas, so there's just enough time to order that goose. For all of you folks out there who subconsciously stroll into the supermarket a couple of days before the big meal and drag another butterball turkey out of the frozen food case .... STOP!
What I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving is that it only comes once a year - and that's the only day I have to cram a mouthful of turkey down my gullet. Sure, if you buy a fresh, free-range, antibiotic and growth hormone free turkey - then dry brine it and smoke it slowly over hardwood coals - then you at least get some flavor (i.e. smoke) and a little moistness in the meat. Done this way, you may even get compliments from your family and guests (for the first time ever) - and leftovers may not look so repulsive in their foil coffin.
But then there's Christmas (or whatever you call your Holiday this time of the year) and fattened goose is the way to go. Just brine that sucker and roast it 'til it's golden brown - and has given up a good quart of fat - maybe with some fresh herbs, onions, apples or prunes stuffed into it's cavity to flavor the meat a little more.
The meat will be dark and succulent and the gravy made from the gizzards and a little of the fat will be the best you ever had (get that flour browned nice and dark to yield a smoky, dark color and flavor).
And forget the bland old mashed potatoes. Blanch up some sliced turnips and then braise them in cream with some herbs. Peal and slice up a winter squash and saute it in olive oil and bacon with bay leaf. Then take those potatoes and cube and fry them in lots of olive oil (or goose fat) and fresh sage leaves.
Oh! The best part of the goose program - it's just enough for one meal. You can go back to your hearty pasta and braised veal shank dinners right away, without skipping a beat.
Oh! And the second best part of the goose program is all that rendered fat to fry potatoes and confit some duck.
Goose! It's the other Holiday fowl!