This is another recipe adapted from A Drizzle of Honey: The Life and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, a cookbook full of recipes for foods cooked and eaten by Jews and conversos in the Iberian Peninsula during the time of the Inquisition. About a year and a half ago, I posted my adaptation of the Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew from this book, which was absolutely splendid.
This goose stew is a bit harder to put together, but it is tasty as well. In fact, one of the adaptations we made here was adding bulgur to soak up some of the spiced goose stock and add heft to the stew, which I realized later makes it somewhat more similar to the Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew than the cookbook authors intended.
I shared the recipe with my friend Cat, who made a completely different adaptation of it. She used pomegranate seeds, as the recipe originally called for, and didn’t add in the bulgur. She left out the rose hips (as we did) and the ginger (which we left in). And most drastically, she used lamb instead of leftover roast goose. Oh versatile recipe! She and her fiance said that their version was mindblowingly delicious as well.
We made it with goose because we just happened to be roasting a goose anyway, for our belated second (or perhaps fourth, depending on whose count we use) Thanksgiving dinner in March. It’s never too late for an extra Thanksgiving, and it’s always worth making the time for more food, family, love, and gratitude for the time we share with each other. Also, goose.
Although I described A Drizzle of Honey when I posted that last recipe we adapted from it, I feel compelled to repeat the description here:
The recipes in this book were mostly gleaned from testimony denouncing the Jews during the inquisition. Jews were often identified by cultural signs, such as their culinary customs, and servants would be called to testify on the types of food their mistresses would cook. Testimony against them would often allege that they cut the fat and veins from their meat, salted their meat, would not eat pork, or cooked stews on Friday afternoon to eat cold on Saturday. Even cooking meat in olive oil was seen as evidence of secret “Judaizing,” because most Christians preferred to cook their meat in rendered fat, particularly lard.
Jewish women were cited as having myriad creative excuses, such as claiming that they ate cold meat on Saturday because it tasted better cold. Many really did seem to believe that they removed the fat and veins because the meat tasted better that way, or salted the meat in order to better preserve it. We do these things because our mothers did them, and we do not always quite remember why.
Many of the women whose recipes I have here were murdered for cooking these meals. It is a strange feeling, going through this book and reading stories of betrayal and death, each followed by a description of an intriguing dish. Following their recipes feels like a very delicious act of remembrance.
2007: Baby Lion’s Head Meatballs
2006: Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies
(adapted from A Drizzle of Honey: The Life and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson)
1 roast goose carcass and neck
1 bay leaf
4 lbs coarsely chopped leftover roast goose
3/4 C red wine
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 dried birdseye pepper, coarsely ground
1/4 C honey
1 1/2 C bulgur
A bit of goose fat, to taste
Salt to taste
Two nights before you make the stew, scald the goose and make some stock.
Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Scald the goose by placing it in the boiling water for 1 minute (dipping the top for 1 minute and then the bottom for 1 minute.) Pat the goose dry, then set it uncovered on a rack in your fridge to fully dry overnight. This process will make the skin crispier, less fatty, and tastier.
Place the uncooked innards and bay leaf into the scalding water. Cover and simmer for several hours, until tasty. Reduce to intensify the flavor as necessary. Strain and let cool in the fridge overnight.
The next day, roast the goose on a rack over a big roasting pan. Start it on one side, at 400 F. After 30 minutes, rotate it to the other side, and lower the heat to 350 F. After 45 minutes, rotate it breast up, and continue cooking until it hits an internal temperature of 175 F (going by a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh). Remove it from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes, to let it hit an internal temperature of 180 F.
Strain the liquid fat left in the baking pan (there will be quite a lot) and reserve. Freeze whatever you don’t use. Potatoes fried in goose fat are delicious.
Eat roast goose and rejoice. Reserve 4 lbs meat for the stew. (Or scale the stew down to match however much meat you do have left.) Make stock from the carcass.
The day after that, skim the fat from the stock and pour 6 C stock into a large pot, along with some of the fat to taste. Chop up about 4 lbs leftover roast goose meat and throw it in, too. Add the wine, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, birdseye pepper, honey, and pomegranate molasses. Cover and gently simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.
Add the bulgur and salt and continue to simmer, covered, for 20 more minutes.
Take the lid off and let the stew continue to simmer about 10 minutes more. Add more goose stock (or water) if necessary to fully cook the bulgur.
Garnish with fresh mint and/or pomegranate seeds.