Thursday, August 20, 2009

GaGa for Goosefat!

One of my favorite aspects of our local-centric summers is discovering (or rediscovering) gems of the edible world. Things that we don't think about all that carefully, if at all, when our senses aren't keyed up to an almost hunter-gatherer level in the search for local ingredients. "Can I eat that," becomes our mantra, or perhaps, "How many ways can I eat that?"

Last year, I was crushing hard on beets. Something I'd largely avoided or ignored became an exiting, versatile new treasure & go-to culinary component. I reacquainted myself with beets- not just their roots but their greens & even their stalks. I made a new friend & learned a few things about myself in the process. I kid thee not.

This year, I'd have to say my biggest surprise obsession (besides duck eggs, of course) would have to be goose fat. Frankly, I'd probably heard about the stuff but certainly had never thought of trying to get my hands on any. I mean, why bother? There were so many other shortening-type things out there that worked just fine... It was one of those things that tend to just pop up during the Challenge, & suddenly you're scheming to get more. & more.

It all started innocently enough. I was going to team up with a young lady (whom I've taken a shine to) in making a nice little three-course meal:

Micro greens & smoked trout salad with raspberry-dijon vinaigrette.

While I was fussing around, getting everything prepped (yes, I'm a fuss-er) my date said, "Hey, we've got some leftover goose fat in the fridge... Ever tried it?"

Beware! This is something akin to someone saying, "Hey, I've got some Crack lying around... Interested?" The first time is free, & then you find yourself cooking down a goose carcass for the third time, in a vain attempt to get the last drop of golden fat. Okay, I exaggerate. A little.
In the sense that I haven't yet been forced to locate my own supply...

Pastured pork loin chops with Door County cherry sauce,
wilted mixed greens & pan-fried multi-color potatoes.

Please note the incredibly crispy exteriors of the pan-fried potatoes. This is the beauty of goose fat. Another plus is that the stuff doesn't seem to have a smoke point, to speak of. This allowed me to cook the 'taters for quite awhile, further aiding that amazing crusty effect, without any trace of a burned taste. In fact, goose fat has a mild, clean flavor with just a hint of poultry. You get something similar to the sheer goodness of bacon fat, without the somewhat overpowering, heavy flavor. Magic!

Potatoes aside, the rest of the meal was pretty killer in its own right. We finished things off with a very tasty rustic tart of apples, rhubarb & raisins, which while not being specifically local in origin certainly captured the feeling of a waning summer quite nicely.

Lodi apple "rustic tart" with local vanilla ice cream & cashew brittle.

As we cleaned up after dinner, I found myself wondering if this first encounter with the wonders of goose fat would be my last, or if I'd soon find myself drawn again into its seductive, golden embrace. Perhaps I should take a cautious approach. You know, be a casual "social" user of goose fat.

Sure enough, I was using it to cook breakfast the next morning...

- nano out.

Thanks & a hat-tipping are due to Nick, the Selby Market's produce manager, for first confirming my suspicions that cherries & pork do indeed play very nicely together.

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