Archive | September, 2008

Cook your goose

22 Sep

As promised, I unearthed the goose from the freezer…and killed the two living ones to boot.
My downstairs neighbors finally complained about the incessant honking of the geese, and like a true country bumpkin, I slaughtered them the minute after the complaint was lodged. Good relations with neighbors are more important than two slightly more fat geese come X-mas time. But I wonder if I could ask them to make their dogs shut the hell up with their infernal barking? I don’t think they’d return the favor, somehow.

Here’s what I did to the geese. After killing and some plucking, I ended up just skinning them. Getting all the feathers out requires a rubber fingered plucking machine. Those rule. But I don’t have one. So, skinning. I know–the fat? It went with the skin (into a shallow grave). There was some internal fat, though. Plus, I have pig fat.

After a day of resting in a salt brine, I deboned the geese. The meat was red and looked like beef, a bit. With the carcasses–carcassi?–made tons of stock, which eventually became gumbo and a tomato ragu (but that’s another story). Then I put the chunks in the freezer to get very cold. Meanwhile, I cubed up some pig back fat (oh, the decadence).
Then all of that went into the meat grinder. It’s called a waring “professional” meat grinder, but it sucks. Someone said a Kitchen Aid grinder works well, but I wonder. I bought casings at Taylor Sausage in Old Oakland–nice guys, lots of casings for $12.
Then I mixed everything up–the meat, the fat, herbs, wine. And fed the meat into the stuffing attachment of my wanky grinder. I think the meat and fat did something Michael Ruhlman calls “breaking”, which he says in his book Charcuterie, makes the sausage taste like paper maiche. Oh lord! They did look kind of smeary and weird. After a night in the fridge, I pulled them out for Sunday pancakes. As the sausages fried, a full-on geyser of liquid fat came streaming out of the crackling skillet-bound sausage.

As for the taste–yes, a little dry, but with maple syrup and cornmeal hotcakes, they were nothing to feed to the dogs.

Old lurking things

16 Sep

The end of summer makes me want to clean out my freezer. If you can believe it, we *still* have pork left from last year’s pigs. My friend Zach was in town so I roasted some in his honor. Even after a year in the deep freeze, it’s still delicious.

While I was rooting around the freezer to find the last pork shoulder, I found some crazy stuff. Two pigs feet, neatly wrapped. Pig kidneys (glad I labeled that!). Assorted goose parts. Two rabbits in Ziplock bags. Lots of chicken and turkey feet. An entire pork belly. A ham. A rack of pork loin. Since it’s been in there for a year, I really need to get that stuff cooked and eaten! So, for the next few posts, I’m going to have some, um, closure, with the meat in the freezer. I’m planning to make goose sausage, a rabbit and pork back fat terrine (from Jane Grigson), kidney pie, made some bacon (that crisp Fall wind is starting to blow here…)

And once the temps finally drop, I absolutely must take care of those many, many rabbit pelts. That will be quite unappetizing.

Goat estrus

7 Sep

Ok. Here’s the story. About 10 days ago, I was puttering around the house–feeding the rabbits, washing the dishes, putting grain in Bebe’s milk stand so I could milk her–when I heard Bebe yelling. I ran downstairs because this was an odd sound. I thought maybe the turkey had attacked her. At the gate, Bebe lunged. Bilbo seemed especially concerned. So I let them out, and Bebe raced up and down the stairs like a crazy goat. Then, I hate to report: Bilbo mounted her, made this unbelievably clownish face and stuck his tongue out like the devil. Sick. It didn’t last long. Meanwhile, Orla was making horrible bleating noises. This went on all day, and then for a few more days. My poor neighbors. Bilbo is just so in love.

Most dairy goats go into estrus at the end of summer through early winter, every 18-21 days. If they’re bred, they’ll carry for 5 months and give birth in the spring. With Dwarf Nigerians like Bebe, they actually can breed all year ’round. This most recent cycle must have been her first since having Orla. I’m hoping to breed her in December for a May arrival of babies. So it’ll be a little loud around here every three weeks, I guess.

A few days after all this noise, I was down in the chicken house trying to convince the new chickens to roost there when I heard some goat noises again. I looked up on the stairs and the goats were looking West. Our neighbor two doors down, a young Vietnamese mom, was yelling, “Baaahhh,” and laughing her ass off. The goats returned her call. Neither the goats nor the lady knew I could see them–so I waited in the henhouse until they were done talking. Have I mentioned how much I love my neighborhood?