Friday, January 6, 2012

How to make the perfect bird (works guaranteed)!

Happy New Year everyone,

I'm back from my Christmas&New Years holiday break with a full sack of plenty of things I finally wanna post about. What held me back was not only the usual christmas madness, but also the fact that quite a few of my potential posts are about christmas presents I made and food I actually ate over christmas. So that's why I couldn't post it before.
After Christmas Wil and I also went away for a couple of days to a German island called RĂ¼gen to recover from those busy days (and to get rid off our extra holiday-pounds). We walked probably 10-15 km (that's 6-10 miles) per day, at least, went swimming (in a pool/waterpark) and ate lots of fish and good, good food paired with fabulous wines and drinks...

But back to Christmas. We spent it at my Mum's house this year and she made tons of good food. For Dec.26th my Mum and I prepared a goose. As you know from my previous post, I'm not that experienced with whole birds and my first attempt still turned out a bit dry. That's why I watched every step of my Mum and read the recipe thoroughly.

The secret is, surprise, surprise, SLOW-COOKING! We already knew this, right? So, I will need to get a proper oven at some point, that will allow me to reduce heat to lower than 150°C/302°F, or try the brining-method, next time.

But yeah, this here definitely works. My Mum found the recipe on some website, where over 150 people had commented how great this recipe is and how well it turned out (none of the comments were negative).
I'm sure you can cook any bird with this method perfectly. Depending on the size some just won't need as long as our goose.

We served it with German potato dumplings, red cabbage and green cale (the one that I made earlier)

The perfect bird (in this case goose) cooks as follows:

The night before
  • Make sure it is completely defrosted (if you bought afrozen one) and all organs are removed. They usually come in a palstic bag inside the bird.
  • maybe remove some quill and left-over feathers.
  • rub the bird with salt from the outside and inside. You may wanna use more salt inside, so that the meat won't taste as bland in the end.
  • Stuff the bird with whatever you like. I heard some fill the carcass with dried rice so that the bird blows up while cooking and looks all nice and round...well, I think I prefer good flavour. We stuffed our goose with quarters of onions and apples, prunes, and the roughly chopped organs, as well as some dried lovage (herb). With a goose you cannot really eat the stuffing afterwards, cause it is soaked in goose fat and really not that pleasant anymore. But it adds a nice flavour. With any other bird, except for maybe duck: Go for it! I always love the stuffing.
  • Put the bird on a (deep) baking tray and bake at 180°C/356°F for about an hour.
  • Turn down the heat to 80°C/176°F and cook the bird overnight for at least 7 hours. The first person that gets up in the morning gets to turn out the oven. I think we had it in for 9 hours in the end (the goose weighed 5.4kg).
The Bird
Day of goose dinner
  • The goose can now stay in the cold oven until lunch/dinner, whatever. You only need to heat it up for about another 60minutes (not longer!) at 180°C/356°F before you want to eat.
  • In order to make the skin nice and crsipy, resolve salt in some water and brush the the breast and legs with this mixture. You can also brush the bird with maple syrup, jam or honey for some sweetness. If you have a broiler, turn it on maximum heat and broil the bird for about 5minutes or until the skin has browned.
  • Carve and serve with whatever side-dishes you like!
It was bigger than it looks here! It's a very big knife and fork....
Oh yeah, I forgot about the sauce!
Pour the drippings from the tray into a bowl. Wait a few seconds. The fat (and that's a lot with a goose) will separate and be on top (light-golden and almost clear) so that you can easily recognize it and with a spoon skim it off the rest (dark brown) that will be our sauce.
You may wanna mix in some plum jam (or maple syrup, honey etc) and red wine, as well as a tiny little bit of the stuffing. That way the sauce gets a bit thicker, as well. Just blend everything together with a hand blender until smooth and heat it up again. Season to taste if necessary.

Always happy carving
This really should work with any bird. A chicken or duck might not take that long. But really, there is not much that can go wrong with 80°C/176°F. It won't get hotter than that. The best indicator that it is fully cooked is when the meat comes off the leg bones...

Last but not least

Even though I thought the goose turned out pretty good and was delicious, my Mum still thought the breast was a little dryer than necessary.
So in the first hour at 180°C/356°F try to cook your bird upside down, the back up the breast is lying on the tray. For the slow-cook marathon you can turn it around again.

Ready for the feast. Oh I could eat this again, right now!

Don't forget the Schnaps afterwards. You will definitely need one after such a heavy meal. Espresso will work as well, of course...

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