It’s that time of year again, our Cassoulet Recipe Kit is on SALE! For a limited time only, save 15% off our signature kit, with or without the authentic French bowl. In honor of this ‘it only happens twice a year’ sale we’d like to share one of our favorite videos. Here’s Ariane making a Gascon-style cassoulet with Chef Pierre Landet of Felix in New York City.
Posts tagged ‘french recipes’
If your goose is well cooked, it has a succulent, tender dark meat that is rich tasting but free of fat. A fine roasted goose can be a feast for king and peasant alike, suggested the French writer Honoré de Balzac.
Although plentiful and relatively inexpensive for the common man throughout history, these long-necked, web-footed birds are a rich source of legend and folktales. Egyptian mythology tells that a goose laid the primal egg from which the sun god, Ra, sprang. Brahma, the Hindu personification of divine reality and spiritual purity, rides a great gander. Until the Romans conquered the Gauls, who taught them how to feed and cook their geese, the Romans considered the birds sacred.
Charlemagne was so fond of eating goose he mandated that his lands be kept supplied with them. Queen Elizabeth I was another fan. One tradition says that when she was told about the destruction of the Spanish Armada, it was September 29, the Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas, and she was dining on roast goose with sage and onion stuffing. She decreed that thereafter goose was to be served on this day in celebration.
Yet, for all these colorful tales, goose seems to elicit scowls or shrugs of frustration from home cooks. “It’s fine to let someone else fuss,” is the popular sentiment about geese. The perception of a fatty bird with a large frame and poor ratio of meat to bone is accurate, particularly when speaking about domestic geese. Incidentally, goose refers to a male or female. A gander is a male; a gosling is a young goose under 4 months of age.
Geese are actually pretty clever. The birds are also notoriously territorial. On farms, if geese are not fed by the same person every day they stage a hunger strike. If someone unknown tried to enter their domain, they are likely to attack. This characteristic has been appreciated through the ages. Romans kept geese at their villas as pets to protect their children and properties, and NASA has a flock to guard its launch pads.
Breeds of Geese
The bird raised for the table in America is the white Embden goose from Germany. It is pure white with an orange bill and orange legs and feet. The average dressed weight is 10 to 12 pounds. In France, there are Toulouse geese that are roasted and a subspecies, the Masseube, a gray goose with a big thoracic capacity where the liver expands for foie gras. Masseube geese can be very heavy. But once the liver is taken, they are quite fatty, and good to eat only when made into confit. Domesticated Chinese geese are smaller, brown-and-white birds.
Wild geese, of which the principal varieties are the Canada goose, snow goose, blue goose, and brant (black), are extremely lean and generally smaller than their domesticated cousins. However, in the 13th century, Marco Polo reported that the wild geese he saw in Fuchow weighed up to 24 pounds. The reports were accurate: they are still the largest wild geese.
Geese spend their lives flying and grazing on foods in their environment. If their principal diet is fish, beware; the bird may be very pungent. However, if they eat mostly grains, they are divine. The best wild geese to roast or grill are young birds, weighing about 5 pounds. They should be barded to protect the flesh from drying out.
Geese lay their eggs in the spring. Therefore, by Christmas a young goose is at its optimum weight. And that’s when most people think of having a goose.
Buying and Preparing Goose
When buying, look for a young bird, one that is about 6 to 8 months, and between 8 and 12 pounds. In estimating serving size, you should allow 1 ½ to 2 pounds of goose (raw weight) per person. Fresh geese are not available during February and March because the older birds are stringy and tough. If you have a mature bird, more than 12 pounds, you should braise, stew, or confit it in pieces, as you would a duck.
To prepare a goose cut off the excess fat from the neck and from the inside cavities. The fat may be rendered like duck fat and made into cracklings, or used to cook potatoes, croutons, or omelets. Prick the skin of the back, breast and legs well to let to fat escape as the bird cooks. There will be a lot of fat –up to a quart—so it needs to be removed at least every 30 minutes during cooking. A bulb baster or large spoon will work. Take care; that fat is very hot!
As with most poultry, the problem with geese is that if they are cooked whole, the breast gets done first and can dry out while the legs are finishing. Either remove the breast and keep it warm, or tent it with aluminum foil. Either way, continue to baste the legs often to keep them moist.
The goose is cooked when the meat measures 165 degrees to 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and the breast juices run pale pink (not rose-colored, like a duck’s) when pricked. As a rule of thumb, calculate between 13 and 15 minutes per pound unstuffed, and 18 to 22 minutes per pound stuffed. When the goose is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 to 25 minutes before carving.
To reheat a goose, cover the bird with aluminum foil and put it back in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) until heated through. Alternately, reheat in a sauce to keep moist.
We so look forward to this time of year. The days are short and chilly, we’re curling up in cozy sweaters and craving cassoulet. The classic duck and bean stew from Southwest France is a favorite around here, especially during the autumn months. Fairly easy to prepare and incredibly satisfying, cassoulet should be a staple in every foodie’s recipe repertoire. And we’ve made it even more accessible with our Cassoulet Recipe Kit, recipe tips and how-to video.
Check out the latest episode of Back of the House with Ariane – Lamb, bam, thank you ma’am! In this quick video, Ariane is cooking our grass-fed lamb and lamb merguez sausage with Chef Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ.
We LOVE obscure food holidays. Surprisingly, there’s one for just about every day on the calendar. Our friends over at The Nibble put together a list and what do you know?! Today is National Bean Day – the perfect day to enjoy our versatile French Coco Tarbais Beans.
The Coco Tarbais bean is one of the great exports of Southwest France, with a history as rich and wonderful as its flavor. These large white beans come from the village Tarbes and are grown within sight of the Pyrénées Mountains. Known as the best bean for the traditional cassoulet of the region,they’re also tremendous additions to summer salads, picnic foods, and season-agnostic appetizers. Plus, Tarbais beans are high in fiber and nutritional benefits as well. Richly satisfying, versatile, and not bad for you? Now that’s a tradition we can sink our spoons into.
Tarbais beans were introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus, and they flourished in the sunlight of Southwest France, where they developed their own distinctive characteristics. They’re planted in early May alongside corn, and the two crops grow together, with the bean vines using the corn stalks as support. During the season, Tarbais beans are picked and sold fresh, but many are left to dry on the vines and are painstakingly hand harvested and sold dried. Just as true Champagne hails only from its namesake region, only beans grown and handpicked in the protected geographical French region may be called Tarbais Beans and are identified as “Label Rouge” on their packaging.
It would be impossible to talk about haricot Tarbais and not discuss the traditional Gascon cassoulet. This dish has ignited passions in the Southwest of France for generations, each town claiming their version to be the one true recipe for cassoulet. Whatever the recipe (we, of course, believe ours is the best), cassoulet is bean and meat dish that cooks low and slow for hours, and feeds a crowd, often for several meals. Cassoulet tastes even better the day after it is cooked, as some kind of alchemy occurs when it is refrigerated for 24 hours and then reheated. To make a cassoulet, our French Coco Tarbais Beans - Label Rouge, of course – are the first place to start. The large, white bean has a thin skin allowing it to cook easier than other beans while still retaining its flavor and composition for the slow, mouthwatering stew. Beyond the beans, a cassoulet includes cured meats like Duck Confit; flavor-happy Duck & Armagnac Sausage, Garlic Sausage, and Ventrèche, or French pancetta; and a touch of Duck and Veal Demi-Glace and Duck Fat.
We offer an easy-to-follow Cassoulet Recipe Kit, a perfect way to establish your own cassoulet tradition. Cassoulet makes a great holiday meal, and is best enjoyed with a few bottles of wine from the Southwest France (we like Madiran in particular).
Beyond the Bowl of Cassoulet
Aside from the slow-cooked Gascon stew, these versatile beans find their way into many dishes, most of which are quite simple to prepare.
For a spicy, easy sausage dinner, we like to grill lamb merguez sausage and serve atop wilted spinach, Tarbais beans and a light mustard dressing. For an extra kick, stir some harissa into the dressing. Try our ground buffalo chili with Tarbais beans for a unique texture and flavor. Tarbais beans pair well with pork, so our recipe for porkchops with beans and escarole is a natural fit, and will likely become a go-to meal in your kitchen. Tarbais beans make for great appetizers, too. Puree them with Black Truffle Butter, and place atop a crostini; or puree with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley and serve with homemade oregano pita chips.
No matter the season, stewpot, or picnic occasion, Tarbais beans are a welcome addition to any table.
For eight days and nights, in the dark of winter, Jewish families around the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights, better known as Hanukkah. And each of those nights will be filled with traditional rituals and foods. For those of you looking for something beyond matzoh ball soup, potato latkes and brisket, we have a few ideas that can take Hanukkah to another level. For this, we may have to ignore a few kosher laws, which we hope you can excuse.
Let My People Eat Foie Gras
The Jewish people are credited with bringing the feeding technique that fattens the liver of ducks or geese out of the land of Egypt and into Europe. The rest, as they say, is history.
So it seems particularly appropriate to celebrate Hanukkah with a little foie gras. The terrine is a divine preparation of foie gras, which becomes an instant classic when sliced and served cold with cranberry port reduction as an appetizer. For a hot preparation that is impressive yet simple, sear slices of fresh foie gras in a hot pan, and complement with dried fruit flapjacks for a unique twist on the classic latke.
Leave the kasha varnishkes for Grandma, and instead try our easy-to-make pasta with foie gras and wild mushrooms. If you are feeling particularly guilty about playing fast and loose with this one, use farfelle (bowtie pasta) instead of gemelli pasta. You’ll get over it when you sink your teeth into a cube of sautéed foie gras, and then wipe the bowl clean of the luxurious sauce, redolent of foie gras and mushrooms.
Other Birds of Good Repute
In the old country, a Jewish family was always fattening up some birds for schmaltz (chicken fat, though we use duck fat with great results!) and the roasting pan. It was considered appropriate to slaughter a duck or goose for Hanukkah, roast it and use some of the rendered fat to fry the potato latkes. Banish the thought of the Dickensian Christmas goose, and have a Read more