a little bit of goose

On Christmas day, usually the Big Bird-day in our tradition, my kids, who were visiting, had to catch a train an hour before mealtime (which, in good German style, is around 1 P.M.), leaving me with neither the time nor rest to stand in the kitchen monitoring a goose roast or some other long-winded extravagancy.

I cooked goose breast fillets (skin on) instead – and white cabbage in wine.

Much nonsense about goose breast fillets can be found on the internet. The most objectionable feature of most of those recipes seems to be that they deny the fact that one is cooking goose at all. In order to, as it seems, camouflage the (quite delicious, if fresh) natural taste of the bird, many of these recipes not only seem to go south, but east, west and north as well. If you ever want your dinner guests to guess whether they just had a German TV magazine-version of Duck Breast “Peking,” Scallops Picasso or Tofu Hawaii, try one or two of those goose breast recipes…

My mistrust of what I found on the first two Google pages doesn’t take away that I had zero experience with goose breasts…the best advice I found was “treat them like red meat,” that is, not completely done on the inside.

I ended up improvising: before breakfast, I marinated the goose breasts in red wine/water/salt/thyme. Some time halfway the morning, I started a pan with white cabbage in white wine (slowly sauté a sliced onion in too much butter, add half a shredded white cabbage and a glorious dash of dry white wine, salt, ground pepper, a teaspoon caraway seeds and some ground allspice. An hour later, check for acidity, and add some good white wine vinegar to taste. Eventually, you also will pour in all the goose fat that has accumulated when pre-sautéing the goose breasts (see below). Now slow-cook until needed).

Around noon, I dabbed the goose breasts dry, medium-hotly-fried them 6 minutes on each side in butter, starting with the skin-side down, and then they went into the pre-heated oven on medium for about 40 minutes covered with aluminum foil.
While they cooked I made a sauce using the residue in the pan (after skimming off much, not most, of the fat, which is needed in the cabbage, see above), using sliced onion, white wine, a little more thyme and pepper, a tablespoon or so hacked walnuts (I’m not sure about that ingredient, it does add a nice taste but also a funny consistency) and a good dash of cream toward the end of reducing the wine. I then further reduced the sauce until caramel-brown.
Now the goose breasts came out of the oven. I let them rest for at least 10 minutes covered with aluminum foil, then sliced them rather thinly and arranged them nicely on a pre-heated plate, finally pouring the sauce in decorative strands over the breast-slice-piles.

This tasted GOOD, but my parents were not quite convinced by the chewiness of the goose breast slices – I understand where they’re coming from. So in hindsight, I would do two things differently: increase the breast-down sautéing time by a minute or so, to get some crisper skin, and reduce the oven time by ten  minutes while raising the heat accordingly, in order to arrive at a somewhat rarer result. In any case it is crucial to let the breasts rest well on a pre-heated plate, otherwise all the juice runs out when they’re being sliced.


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