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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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THIS. It certainly wasn’t the most difficult recipe I made for the meal, but I’m pretty sure it overshadowed all the other food we ate that night. It most certainly overshadowed the apple crostata, which is a recipe I hold in high regard in and of itself. Frankly, this ice cream is downright amazing. The brown butter and brown sugar give what, at first glance, should be a fairly simple ice cream a complexity of taste beyond its humble ingredient list. Think cake batter ice cream meets caramel ice cream meets vanilla bean ice cream. Creamy ice cream. If you make just one recipe out of this menu, this is the one.

This is the final recipe in the goose dinner miniseries — I hope you enjoyed your meal!

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Brown Butter Ice Cream
adapted from Heather Christo Cooks (great recipes on this site — check it out)

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  •  ½ cup whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  ½ vanilla bean

Melt the butter in a frying pan and continue cooking it over low heat until the butter browns and small dark brown bits accumulate in the bottom of the pan, stirring regularly. Mix the cream, milk and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Using a paring knife, make a slit down the long side of the vanilla bean half, and open to reveal the seeds inside. Carefully scrape the seeds into the saucepan with your paring knife (video here), then toss the empty pod into the saucepan as well. Bring cream mixture to a simmer.

In a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the egg yolks, brown sugar, and salt until fluffy. Whisk in the brown butter a little bit at a time; then slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Return the mixture to the sauce pan and cook over low heat until mixture thickens and forms a custard (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon). Pour mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled (or overnight in my case).

Run custard through your ice cream maker according to your user’s manual. Remove to a freezer-safe container and freeze until hardened, 4 hours or more.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • If you’ve never browned butter before, don’t let that intimidate you — neither had I. I was afraid of burning it, so I didn’t brown it as much as I could have (see previous pic), but the depth of flavor that my amber butter imparted was astounding nonetheless. Do use a heavy pan, though — my enameled cast iron worked brilliantly. 
  • The original recipe called for vanilla bean paste, but not having any on hand, I substituted a combination of vanilla extract and whole vanilla bean. Potentially a bit fussier my way, but anything that avoids another trip to the store is the unfussy path in my world.

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Apple Crostata

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

Apple crostata

In my world, the true hallmark of a good recipe is one that gets made more than once. With so many exciting new recipes to try amidst the sea of cookbooks, magazines and Pinterest links I’ve surrounded myself with, it seems a shame to repeat a recipe if it isn’t a family classic or one of Mr. M’s favorites. After all, while it would be foolhardy to try a new Italian meatball recipe (this one is the ONE), it would likewise be wasteful to limit yourself to a single pie when so many options abound!

Yet I’ve made this recipe not once, not twice, but three times now since I first discovered the recipe fifteen months ago. That’s high praise. My favorite part is the crust: delicious and — stay with me here — easy. Yup, easy pie crust. If Julia Child can embrace the food processor, then so can I, with no shame. Let me explain…

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I love baking, but tend more toward the cake/brownie/gooey/quickbread/cookie end of the spectrum. Pies and pastry, meringue and custards…well, they’re generally not very chocolately, so what good are they? I may fuss with appetizers and enjoy gourmet treats, but I want my desserts rich, fudgy, and messy. I suppose this makes me fairly American.

Not all menus can support such rich desserts, however, and the goose dinner menu falls squarely in that category. So what does any red, white and blue-blooded American eat for dessert if there’s no chocolate? Apple pie, of course.

But…crust. Pie crusts are notoriously finicky. If your family is anything like mine, usually one or two folks take on the role of designated family pie maker, and the rest of us are off the hook. Who wants to deal with the fuss? And while I’ll take a cue from Julia and embrace the food processor, I will NOT take a cue from a certain unnamed family member who recommends using Pillsbury dough. (Clearly not one of the designated pie makers). 

So there’s got to be something special about a pie recipe that begs a novice to make it three times. The appeal is twofold: First, the dough is whizzed together in the food processor. Hard for the butter to start melting if you aren’t even touching it with your hands, and there’s no fussing with pastry cutters and forks. 

Second, as you probably picked up on from the title, this isn’t truly a pie, it’s a crostata. A rustic crostata. If “cozy” is the real estate market code-word for “sardine can,” then “rustic” is the gourmand’s short hand for “sloppy.” As for “crostata?” One crust, no pan. One less crust to mess up. No crimping, no blind baking… Now, that’s my kind of pie! And yes, it tastes most excellent as well.

Apple Crostata
Recipe from Mitchell Kaldrovich of Sea Glass in Cape Elizabeth, ME, via Bon Appetit

Crust

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes

Filling

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2½ pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 5 large), peeled, halved, cored, cut into ¼”-thick slices (about 7 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave syrup
For crust:
Place flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to blend. Add butter; pulse just until coarse meal forms. Add ¼ cup ice water; pulse until dough forms clumps, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap dough in plastic and chill 1 hour. NoteCrust can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly before rolling out.
 
For crostata:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Roll out dough disk on parchment paper to 15″ round (some of dough will extend over edges of paper). Whisk sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Add apples and lemon juice to bowl with sugar mixture; toss to coat apples evenly. Transfer apples to crust, mounding in center and leaving a 3″ plain border. Scrape out any juices from bowl and drizzle over apples.
 
Fold crust edges up over outer edges of filling, crimping dough and folding and pleating as needed to fit. Slide crostata and parchment onto a large baking sheet. Crack egg into a small bowl. Using a fork, beat egg just to blend. Brush crust edges with beaten egg, then sprinkle crust with raw sugar.
Place crostata in oven and bake until juices in center are thick and bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool for 5 minutes. Run a long, thin knife or offset spatula around edges of crostata to loosen from paper and to prevent it from sticking to the paper. Transfer baking sheet with crostata to a wire rack. Brush apples generously with maple syrup, or drizzle with agave syrup. Let crostata cool. Serve warm with Brown Butter Ice Cream.

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Parker House Rolls

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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When I was growing up, Parker House Rolls were a family classic. This was long before I moved to Boston and understood the regional significance of these rolls; all I knew was that whenever someone said these three words, people got excited.

I suppose the taste didn’t make that big of an impression on me at the time. Some of that “bland New England food,” I dismissed them in favor of the bold flavors of Italian sausage with fennel, acidic tomato sauces and herb-stuffed artichokes with plenty of butter. While rolls in general were an afterthought to me, when pressed, I fell whole-heartedly in the camp of Parker House Rolls’ arch-nemesis and number one competitor at the dinner table, the sweet and sexy Hungarian Rolls.

Both roll recipes are a bit of work, in their own way. Yeast breads both, Parker House Rolls need to be rolled out and cut with a biscuit cutter before being brushed with butter and folded, while Hungarian Rolls need to be divided, hand-rolled, and dipped in sugar and butter before being arranged monkey-bread style in a tube pan with a hefty sprinkling of raisins between each layer.

So when I saw a recipe for Parker House Rolls in a recent issue of Bon Appetit that skipped the use of a biscuit cutter in favor of a rectangular tiled formation in a pan, I was intrigued. It had been years since I had eaten these rolls, and I was preparing a menu with strong colonial influences, after all.

But I wanted the recipe to be even easier. Enter my best friend the bread machine. I’m happy to say that my machine adaptation worked out perfectly, and that these are truly a cinch to make. More happily still, I’m pleased to report that the taste has made quite an impression on my adult taste buds, and most certainly have shrugged off the label of “bland.” While lovely served warm with butter and dipped in gravy alongside a hearty feast, I find these rolls truly shine the next morning when you steal down to the kitchen for a few leftovers slathered with butter and jam.

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Easy Bread Machine Parker House Rolls
from Fannie Farmer via Bon Appetit, adapted for use with a bread machine by The Hungry Crafter

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  •  ¼ cup vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco)
  • 1 room-temperature large egg, lightly beaten with fork
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  •  ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • Maldon sea salt (optional)

Place the first six ingredients in your bread machine pan in the order listed (important!). Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast. Insert pan into bread machine and run the dough cycle.

When dough cycle is complete, preheat oven to 350°F and melt the butter in the microwave. Lightly brush a 13×9-inch metal baking dish with some melted butter. Remove dough to work surface, punch down, and divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 12×6-inch rectangle.

Cut lengthwise into three 2-inch-wide strips; cut each crosswise into three 4×2-inch rectangles. Brush half of each (about 2×2-inch) with melted butter; fold unbuttered side over, allowing ¼-inch overhang. Place flat in 1 corner of prepared baking dish, folded edge against short side of dish. Add remaining rolls, shingling to form 1 long row. Repeat with remaining dough for 4 rows. Brush with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic, and chill for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Bake rolls until golden and puffed, about 25 minutes. Brush with butter; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.

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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

WInter Squash

This recipe was another stand out in the menu (I confess, while eating leftovers, I stopped to send my friend the following text message: “I want to marry this squash.”) I’ve expressed my admiration for local chef Barbara Lynch previously, and this latest dish only furthered my respect for her.

It’s a flexible recipe, so you can use whatever squash is fresh and available — in my case, I was limited to butternut and acorn. As I mentioned in the launch post, there are two versions of this recipe circulating the web; the one I used was fairly lacking in comparison to the one I’ve posted below. Had I used this one, it would have been clearer that I should have proceeded to keep the acorn squash unpeeled and in wedges, not cubes. My presentation was a bit lacking, but in a simpler menu, I’d be sure to really dress up the plate. As it was, I was so busy pulling together the gravy, carving the turkey and carting items out to the table that I forgot to put on the maple syrup! I will rectify this next time. And there will be a next time for sure. Enjoy!

Roasted Winter Squash with Maple Syrup and Sage Cream
from Barbara Lynch

  • 1 buttercup or kabocha squash (about 2 pounds) — peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  •  ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 acorn squash (about 1½ pounds) — halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch wedges (with skin)
  • 1 delicata squash (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch rings (with skin)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 20 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Baby watercress and shaved pecorino cheese, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F (Also OK to roast at 375°F for a shorter period of time). In a large bowl, toss the buttercup and butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet. Add the acorn and delicata squash to the large bowl. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and brown sugar and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on another large rimmed baking sheet. Roast the squash for 45 minutes to an hour, turning once, until tender and lightly caramelized in spots. Arrange the squash on a large platter and drizzle with the maple syrup.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer with the sage and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then add the butter and season lightly with salt and pepper. Strain the cream into a heatproof cup. Drizzle it over the roasted squash, garnish with the baby watercress and pecorino and serve.

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Chestnut Stuffing

This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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What could be more romantic than a holiday goose with chestnuts? And in the form of stuffing to boot? Having never roasted chestnuts before — be it on an open fire or in my oven — I was excited to give it a try.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find fresh chestnuts, but Trader Joe’s did not disappoint. From the outset, I couldn’t help but marvel at how darn pretty they are. There’s a reason writers will flatter their subjects with descriptions of “chestnut locks,” as opposed to feeble “brown hair.”

On a far less romantic note, however, I found that the reality was that several nuts were green-veined with mold on the inside and had to be discarded. For this reason alone, I might recommend you go the pre-packaged route, unless, like myself, you want to use fresh ones for the pure experience of it.

So pull back your chestnut locks and let’s get cooking:

Chestnut Stuffing
adapted from Gourmet, November 1993

  • 1 pound fresh chestnuts, shelled and peeled, chopped coarse, or ¾ pound vaccuum-packed whole chestnuts, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cups torn bite-size pieces of day-old homemade-style white bread
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh savory leaves
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  •  ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Chicken stock, as needed for moisture
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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With a sharp knife cut an X on the round side of each chestnut. Spread the chestnuts in one layer in a jelly roll pan, add ¼ cup water, and bake the chestnuts in a preheated 450°F oven for 10 minutes, or until the shells open. Remove the chestnuts, and shell and peel them while they are still hot.

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Reheat the oven to 325°F. In a shallow baking pan arrange the bread pieces in one layer and bake them in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer them to a large bowl.

In a large skillet cook the onions, celery, sage, thyme, rosemary, and savory in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. Add the chestnuts and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the vegetable mixture from the stove; add to the bread pieces, tossing the mixture well. Stir in the parsley. Stir in chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved; salt and pepper to taste. 

Transfer stuffing to a baking dish and bake at 350°F until warmed through and crisp on top, about 30-45 minutes. Stuffing may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

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Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

I really wanted to love this stuffing, but came across a couple of issues:

  • It was really, really dry as originally written. So I added in the chicken stock as indicated above.
  • I discovered I plain old don’t care for nuts in my stuffing. That said, I felt like it was a little lacking in pizzazz. I tried mixing in some prunes for a little oomph in a trial batch. Mr. M spit it into the garbage. Oh well. I suppose forcing prunes upon him was pushing my luck, although I preferred that iteration myself. Moving on.
  • It desperately needed sausage in it. Because all stuffing needs sausage in it. I’m not sure what brought me to consider a stuffing recipe without sausage in it, to be frank. Live and learn.
  • I couldn’t find savory in the store so simply omitted it. I doubt that the addition would do much to change my overall opinion of the recipe.

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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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Finally, we get to the goose. This entire saga started back in December when I entered a contest on Jessie Cross’s blog, The Hungry Mouse.  (How could I not be a reader of this blog? We’re both from MA, we’re both hungry, and more to the point, it’s GOOD. Check it out.) She had recently connected with Connie at Sassafras Valley Farm, a free-range family goose farm in MO. After preparing goose three ways herself and posting a robust goose primer on her blog, Jessie celebrated by holding a giveaway where one of her readers would win a goose to try themselves.

Now, some of you are already well aware of this, but I have a serious illness when it comes to free things. I can’t help myself; I am a contest-entering junkie. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a hearty helping of luck, because I seem to win more than my fair share. My favorite types of giveaways are the ones where you compete for prizes — I’m pretty sure that Starbucks’ 2006 crossword puzzle/scavenger hunt contest was the highlight of my year. In fact, you’ve seen a couple of my contest entries here already. (Did I mention that I won third place in the Sew, Mama, Sew! tablescapes contest back in September? So cool! I won a free Craftsy class, $15 of fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew! and a set of Aurifil thread…) But now I truly digress.

Fast forward to December 5th, 2012, when Jessie announced that I had won a free goose courtesy of Connie at Sassafras Valley Farm! (I’d like to insert here that my grandmother’s name is Connie, and one of my aunts is affectionately called Sassafras…coincidence?) I was, of course, ecstatic. In truth, I was so excited that I couldn’t fall asleep until 1:30 that night due to images of Dickensian Christmas dinners dancing in my head. A goose! I named her Esmerelda, sight unseen.

I had never tried goose before, and embraced the challenge. My biggest fear heading into it was that I would burn the house down or battle excessive smoking. Thankfully, neither occurence came to pass. It was not, however, a perfect goose. (I’m sorry Esme, of course YOU’RE perfect… It was me, not you.) Let me elaborate by way of segue into the cooking tips:

First and foremost, please, please, please don’t overcook your goose! If you should overcook the goose, it won’t burn, and it won’t become dry; it will become tough. The goose was in fact tasty, but my first inkling that I might have overcooked her was when I had to go back out to the kitchen for steak knives. But I still wasn’t sure. Maybe that’s normal. It tasted good; it was simply a bit of a mouthful to chew, and wasn’t as mouth-wateringly delicious as I had hoped it might be. The thought gnawed at the recesses of my brain for the rest of the night. Did I…? Was it…? As Mr. M and I were lying in bed that night recapping the evening to each other, the discussion turned to the goose.

“So, what did you think of the goose itself?” I asked tentatively.

Pause. I can see what he thinks by the look on his face.

“Well, I mean, it wasn’t bad, and I thought the seasonings were really good, but…”

Sigh. “Yeah, I know. Was it the texture? I mean, I did think it was a little chewy, so I’m wondering if maybe I…”

“I don’t know, I think I might just not be a fan of goose in general. It kinda tasted like… liver to me.”

My heart sunk. Confirmation that I had overcooked the goose. Just the day before I had received an e-mail from Connie with the following words of advice: “Over roasting a chicken doesn’t alter the flavor. It just makes it dry. Over roasting a goose does… it will taste livery.”

So what happened? There was a 20 degree difference between the temperature listed in the recipe I selected and the temperature recommended by Connie and Jessie. I tried to compromise and split the difference. Don’t do this. Please. Listen to the woman who actually raised the goose and shoot for a final temperature of 165. I’ve adjusted the times and temperatures in the recipe below to reflect how I would make this recipe if I were to attempt it again, so you can learn from my mistake!

A second alteration I made was to swap out a few ingredients. First I traded out the cardamom from the original recipe in favor of allspice, based on Connie’s recommendation. It worked. I also had some lingonberry preserves on hand and loved the idea of lingonberries and goose, so I used those in the sauce (the original recipe calls for cranberries). The sauce was fabulous, and I look forward to trying it with other types of poultry as well. As a matter of personal preference, I think I might also use red potatoes instead of gold next time — I just prefer their texture.

Finally, the original recipe calls for the bird to be pricked all over prior to cooking so the fat can be released, but does not actually score the goose. Jessie’s blog post does an excellent job detailing the scoring process both in photos and words, so I won’t repeat it here, but, yeah. Do that. Connie recommends this as the best method to avoid rubbery skin, and frankly, it looks cool and was fun to try. Plus, I’m always looking for my next big score.

Orange & Thyme Roasted Goose with Potatoes, Shallots and a Lingonberry-White Wine Sauce
Adapted by The Hungry Crafter from Whole Foods Market

  • 7-8 pound whole goose (defrosted 3 days if frozen)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest and juice from 1 large orange (reserve squeezed halves)
  • 8 sprigs thyme plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • ⅓ cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 5 large yellow potatoes (about 3¾ pounds), cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound large shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup prepared lingonberry preserves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons flour

Take goose out of the refrigerator and keep at room temperature about an hour before you’d like to begin roasting it. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.

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Remove neck and giblets from the cavity of the goose (discard or, preferably, freeze for use in making stock), then thoroughly rinse inside and out with cool, running water. Indulge me for a second while I point out that the heart was perfectly, um, heart-shaped. Wild.
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Pat the goose dry with paper towels and transfer to a roasting pan. With a sharp knife, gently score the bird in a diamond-shaped pattern as pictured below by cutting diagonal lines across one side of the bird and then crisscrossing the lines in the other direction. You want to cut through the skin and the thick layer of fat underneath, but not go so deep so as to expose the meat below. Erm, so yeah, NOT like the picture below in that regard. Pretend those purple-blue areas peeking through aren’t there. But don’t worry about it too much if yours do as well.

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Prick the skin all over with a fork. Season the goose generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Transfer zest and juice from orange to a small bowl, then tuck squeezed orange halves and thyme sprigs into cavity of goose; set aside. Add orange marmalade, chopped thyme and allspice to bowl with orange zest and juice and stir to combine. Baste goose all over with half of the orange mixture and roast until deep golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

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Carefully remove roasting pan from oven and transfer accumulated fat in the pan to a heatproof bowl (I used a baster to draw up the fat); set aside.

Put potatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of the goose fat, salt and pepper into a large bowl and toss to combine. (You can freeze the remaining goose fat at this point for later use. Please don’t throw it away! The stuff is liquid gold. Try frying…well, just about anything in it and you’ll see.)

Arrange potatoes and shallots around goose, loosely tent the goose with foil, and continue to roast for 30 minutes. You can also cover the wing tips with foil if they are cooking too fast. To help ensure even cooking, cut the legs so they flop open to the sides (see below).

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When 30 minutes are up, baste the goose with remaining orange mixture and remove any excess fat that’s accumulated in the pan. Continue roasting, tossing potatoes and shallots and basting goose every 30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers about 155°F, about 1 more hour. Stir potatoes and shallots, uncover goose (reserve the foil) and continue roasting until skin is crisp and thermometer reads 160°F, about 10 more minutes. Carefully transfer goose, potatoes and shallots to a large serving platter, tent with foil, and set aside. Note: check your potatoes for doneness with a fork — if they need more time, transfer them to a baking dish and let them continue to cook while the goose rests. Let goose rest for 30 minutes before carving. Potatoes roasted in goose fat

Time to make the gravy! Skim off and discard any fat from the pan juices, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat (I put the roasting pan right on the stove top, but you can also transfer the drippings to a saucepan if you prefer). Whisk in wine and lingonberry preserves then add bay leaves and boil gently until reduced and just thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove sauce from heat, discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to a small bowl or gravy boat. Carve goose and serve hot with potatoes, shallots and lingonberry-white wine sauce on the side.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • You may notice that the potatoes are not in the pics with the goose — this was a result of the timing in the original recipe I used. In order to avoid overcooking the goose and undercooking the potatoes…well, imagine the potatoes are in those pics, and follow the written word.
  • If, like myself, you need a few pointers on carving a goose, check out this tutorial on Martha Stewart.
  • Favorite product alert — I absolutely adore the flat whisk my mother-in-law got me a few years ago. What a difference this shape makes for gravies and pan sauces compared to a standard balloon whisk!
  • If you can’t find lingonberry preserves, check out your local IKEA store…that’s where I got mine.
  • It should go without saying, but…if you are looking to buy a goose, check out Sassafras Valley Farm!

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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

This recipe is my interpretation of an appetizer that has become a classic at my sister’s house. After the meatiness of the scallops & bacon, and the buttery richness of the phyllo-wrapped figs, I wanted a third appetizer that would be bright and refreshing, with a good hit of acid. My sister texted me the ingredient list, and here’s my take on assembling it all.

I was lax in taking a photo, so until I make them again and can add a pic, you’ll just have to use your imagination, I’m afraid. A few shopping tips: if you can’t find endive at your local supermarket, they can usually be found at Trader Joe’s. For the balsamic, you’ll want to use a good one since it’s such a major ingredient. I’m currently using this one from O & Co., which has a lovely syrupy texture and mildly sweet undertones. Next time I’d like to try making these using my secret weapon, Blaze, a balsamic reduction and key ingredient in my tomato, basil, mozzarella sandwiches. If anyone has more balsamic recommendations, leave them in the comments below!

Endives with Grape Tomatoes and Basil

  • 1 package endive (3 heads)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Rinse endives, separate the leaves. Halve grape tomatoes. Place three grape tomatoes in each endive leaf (use your discretion as to how many to make; the smaller inner leaves will not be sufficient to hold the tomatoes). Sprinkle with basil leaves. Drizzle each endive “boat” with olive oil and balsamic. Finish with freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Serve as finger food with a cocktail napkin.

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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.
Phyllo wrapped figs, 1-4

While my guests were happily munching on their scallops, I popped these suckers in the oven to cook, having assembled them earlier on that day. I have to admit — not only did these taste good, but they were a lot of fun to make. While it would be a bit of a stretch to refer to these as “unfussy,” there’s a certain amount of freedom in forming them…rolling blue cheese into balls with your (clean!) bare hands, halving the figs and affixing them as best you can around the cheese (gaps are expected), then enveloping the package with a blanket of delicate cured meat… It actually brought me back to being a kid and working with play-doh.

For a perfectionist like myself, it’s an absolutely freeing and playful process. The end result? Pure satisfaction.

Phyllo-Wrapped Figs with Prosciutto and Stilton
from Bon Appétit, December 2002, adapted from The Gatehouse Restaurant, Providence, RI

Figs

  • 16 teaspoons Stilton cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 32 dried black Mission figs
  • 4 6×4-inch thin prosciutto slices, cut lengthwise in half
  • 8 sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Port Sauce

  • 2 cups Ruby Port
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Cream Sauce

  • 1½ cups whipping cream
  • 4½ tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Form 2 teaspoons cheese into 1-inch-long log. Place 4 dried figs around cheese and press gently to adhere. Wrap 1 prosciutto strip around fig bundle. Repeat with remaining cheese, figs, and prosciutto.

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Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface (keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and damp towel). Brush phyllo lightly with melted butter. Top with second phyllo sheet; brush with butter. Repeat with 2 more phyllo sheets. Cut stacked phyllo sheets into four 6-inch squares (discard phyllo trimmings). Place 1 fig bundle in center of 1 phyllo square stack. Bring all edges of phyllo square up toward center and squeeze firmly at top, forming pouch and enclosing fig bundle completely. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets, melted butter, and fig bundles, forming a total of 8 pouches. Brush outside of phyllo pouches with remaining melted butter. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pouches until golden, about 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring Port, balsamic vinegar, and sugar to boil in medium saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to ¼ cup, about 15 minutes.

While Port mixture is being reduced, boil cream and pine nuts in another medium saucepan until reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Remove cream sauce from heat; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon 2 tablespoons cream sauce onto each of 8 plates. Place 1 phyllo pouch atop sauce. Drizzle each lightly with Port sauce and serve.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • I admittedly went a little overboard with the butter on this one. It doesn’t need it. I still didn’t use the full amount called for in the ingredients list, so keep that in mind. I think the key part of the directions is where it says “Brush phyllo lightly with melted butter.” Certainly you need to use a light hand so as not to tear the dough. But it applies to the amount of butter as well.
  • If making the sea scallops as well, feel free to use the Port wine reduction from that recipe for both appetizers — no need to make two versions. Although I must say, the addition of balsamic vinegar in this version is a nice complement to the blue cheese.

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This recipe is part of the “Celebratory Goose Dinner” miniseries. For the complete menu, timetable, and printable shopping list, see the introductory post.

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…or, according to my handwritten notes on the printout of this recipe, “Rock star scallops! BEST RECIPE!” I first came across this recipe when searching for a special appetizer to make for my sister’s elopement. Enter the recipe below. It made the cut — and an impression — and I’ve been dying for an excuse to make them ever since. Plus Mr. Manly likes them. Clearly a no-brainer start to our fancy New Year’s Eve dinner. Cooking tips are included at the end.

Bay Scallops & Applewood Bacon with a Port Wine Reduction
from Gourmet, October 2005, adapted from Marc Forgione of BLT Prime, New York City

Port wine reduction

  • 2 cups (500 ml) Ruby Port
  • ½ cup superfine granulated sugar (you can make your own by whizzing regular granulated sugar a few times in a food processor; just don’t substitute regular sugar)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh mint leaves, torn into bits

Scallops

  • 6 thin slices applewood-smoked bacon (¼ lb), cut into thirds
  • 18 bay scallops (preferably Nantucket; ⅓ lb), tough muscle from side of each discarded if attached (if you can’t get bay scallops, you can use sea scallops cut lengthwise into thirds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For Port wine reduction:
Bring Port, superfine sugar, peppercorns, and mint to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then carefully ignite Port with a kitchen match, letting flames die down (this will take a few minutes). Simmer over moderately low heat until sauce is thickened and reduced to about ½ cup, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to warm. May be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before serving.

For scallops:
Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook bacon until some fat has rendered and edges of bacon start to brown, about 1½ minutes per side. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. When bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap a piece of bacon around each scallop and pierce scallop with a wooden pick to secure. Scallops may be wrapped in bacon, but not sautéed, 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Sauté just before serving.

Heat oil and butter in cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning over once, until bacon is browned and scallops are opaque, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and serve with Port reduction for dipping.

Tips from The Hungry Crafter:

  • If you do in fact have to substitute sea scallops for the bay scallops, remember to cut them down to a smaller size! On the same note, before you cut your bacon in thirds, check that the length will be enough to go around the entire circumference of the scallop. Otherwise you will not have bacon-wrapped scallops so much as scallops with a bolero jacket (see photo).
  • When making the reduction this last time around, the Port simply refused to ignite, and I gave up after five tries. It made no noticeable difference to the reduction, so don’t get too hung up on this step.
  • When cooking the scallops, don’t be afraid of the heat! Also, make sure to pat your scallops as dry as possible — this will help you get that nice golden sear.

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You should know that I am an unabashed homer. Give me the Jerry Remys, the Andy Brickleys of the world — I am not looking for fair and balanced reporting. I want reporting with passion, and I want folks on my side. (My former journalism professors are no doubt developing an odd twitch somewhere off in academia right now).

With that preface, I must confess a somewhat irrational love for the eateries in my office building and the vendors at the farmer’s market on the square. There are notable exceptions, of course, and my equally irrational disdain is felt with similar passion. For what is food without passion (says the good little Italian)?

Please understand that this means I will make brazen claims that Narragansett Creamery makes the best mozzarella you can buy stateside (they do), that tasting Burdick’s hot chocolate will change your definition of cocoa (it will), and that Iggy’s sliced Francese makes the world go round (it does…or at the very least makes my midsection round).

These small businesses sustain me — both literally and figuratively — throughout the workday and beyond. Who’s to say what is more warming: the hot cup of coffee in my hand from Croissant du Jour, or the familiar wave and smile of the gal who, with a nod, has already filled my cup with my usual order before I get to the register?

All of which is to say that I have a massive crush on Bacco’s Wine & Cheese. At the risk of sounding like a complete wino, let’s just say that I was singlehandedly able to wrap all of my wedding centerpieces in recycled Bacco’s bags to ensure safe transport to and from the venue. So I may or may not frequent this particular shop regularly. They may or may not know me on a first name basis. Sigh.

Aside from the well-curated, rotating selection of wines, Bacco’s boasts an above-average selection of domestic and imported cheeses, with a modest accompaniment of charcuterie, condiments, and chocolates. (Not to mention the rather addictive and hard-to-find blood orange San Pellegrino.) If that weren’t enough, they carry daily special entrees from Pigalle, and a “bento box” lunch of two daily cheese selections, salami, bread and condiments. And the bread is, yes, from Iggy’s.

The best part about Bacco’s is hands down the staff, however. As an explorer in the world of food (read: painfully indecisive, but adventurous), there’s nothing I enjoy more than recommendations. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go to jot down foods I’d like to try, wines I’ve enjoyed, and favorite cheeses (see the To Eat section of this blog, for example). In addition to daily — yes, daily! — wine and cheese tastings, the staff at Bacco’s never fail to offer suggestions, and are happy to share their food knowledge with you.

Which brings me to today’s recipe. I had the idea kicking around in my head that I’d like to try making a riff on a saltimbocca using Spanish ingredients. The idea started with the rather mundane thought to make saltimbocca using Serrano ham in place of the prosciutto. Then an amontillado in place of the madeira, perhaps? But what of the Fontina? Enter the advice of Em, Bacco’s resident “cheese wiz,” who pointed me towards their Drunken Goat cheese. No amontillado on hand, so with the help of the wine guy, we settled on a Pedro Ximenez dessert sherry, with the understanding that I would cut it with chicken stock. (As an aside — oh, wine guy with the dark hair and proclivity to wear sunglasses on top of your head — I’m sorry! Why don’t I know your name? You know mine! You were the first employee I met there! Bad customer…)

Drunken Goat, unsurprisingly, is a goat’s milk cheese that has been soaked in wine. Unlike the wine-imbued Umbriaco del Piave we served at my sister’s elopement, the wine doesn’t seep into the cheese itself, but instead colors the rind and adds a lovely depth of taste that is quite unlike wine itself. In other words, this isn’t a supermarket port wine cheese spread… More importantly, it was FANTASTIC with the saltimbocca. It kept its own unique, mild but tangy flavor while standing up to the other strong tastes quite handily.

I also enjoyed how the Serrano ham contributed a meatier, less salty flavor than the usual prosciutto. And the sherry? I had my doubts about the sweetness, but it ended up being brilliant. I didn’t have any fresh sage on hand, so, with a guilty conscience, I grabbed my dried sage and added that to the pan sauce instead. In the end, the savory sage helped further counter the sweetness of the sherry, and made for a beautiful and tasty sauce.

Spanish-inspired Chicken Saltimbocca
original recipe by The Hungry Crafter

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 lb. drunken goat cheese, sliced
  • 6 slices Serrano ham
  • 1/2 c. Pedro Ximenez sherry
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • butter
  • dried sage

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4″ thickness; season lightly with salt and pepper. Layer 3 slices of Serrano ham on each breast.

In large frying pan, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, ham side up, and cook until bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.
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Flip again, so that the ham is facing up again, and layer slices of cheese on top. Cover the pan with a lid to trap the steam and melt the cheese; remove chicken to serving dish as soon as cheese has melted sufficiently and chicken has cooked through (just a few minutes).

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Deglaze the pan with sherry, then add chicken broth and a few pats of butter. Measurements for the pan sauce are all approximate — taste, taste, taste! Add sage to taste (I used about 1 t.), adding more sherry or broth to increase or decrease the sweetness to your preference. Let sauce reduce by half, and spoon generously over the chicken.

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Quick, easy, but by no means mundane — dinner for two is served!

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