Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Before Prudhomme's Turducken - There Was Goose Pye

Dead Duck with a Pie, Porcelain Bowl and Jar of Olives, Chardin 1764

Chef Paul Prudhomme is credited with creating turducken, a boned chicken stuffed in a boned duck stuffed in a boned turkey, all layers surrounded by forcemeat [farce], usually served at holiday times when some cooks yearn to bring something splendid to the table. But Hannah Glasse beat him to the table, as did other 18thC cooks.

Once you have fattened your holiday goose, removed its foie gras, and it hangs cooling on the meat hook in the office [cold kitchen], it’s time to think of goose pye, a corned [pickled] tongue surrounded by farce stuffed in a marinated, boned chicken, surrounded by farce, stuffed in a boned and marinated well-hung [term used to connote ternderizing] goose baked in a crust—perfect for today’s holiday meals, but a means of preserving in the past.

The spices [today's French four-spice or quatre-epice] used in the farce and in the marinating process serve to preserve the meat once it is cooked and cooled, allowing the pye to be kept in the cool room and sliced for serving as needed—time here also serves to ripen or develop the many flavors in this dish.

Goose Pye, photo from Terrines, Pâtés & Galantines. Time-Life, 1982, p. 52.

Here is Glasse's recipe for goose pye.

I highly recomend both Time-Life's Terrines [which also uses Glasse's recipe and is accompanied by marvelous step-by-step photos] and Glasse's book, also known as First Catch Your Hare. Terrines is edited by the late inimitable Richard Olney. Glasse's book served as the take off for many following books and incorporates about a hundred years of previous cooking knowledge--still a great book after two and half centuries!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cramming Geese, Gavage for Foie Gras

To Pastures New, James Guthrie, 1883.

In my last post of fattening fowl for foie gras powdered nettles were mixed with flour to make a paste for cramming geese. Why green, you might ask? Because young geese will orient toward paticular greens, especially grasses, which is why they can me used as a management technique for weeding orchards and other crops. Care must taken to corral the geese away from other tender green crops and older geese from other colors, such as strawberries or tomatoes. Once they associate another color other than the green of new grass for food, they can literally mow down crops, even being known to eat the roots right down into the soil. Hence, it is necessary for our little goose girl to herd them away from the desireable crops, toward the water source several times a day and to allow them to rest in the shade. Once they are rested, they will defecate and return to feeding. As such geese are a natural part of sustainable agricultural care for fields.

Fresh, tender greens are very high in nutrients--proteins and others--and create a natural source of fat in geese. Prior to domestication, this fat was used for fuel storage for long migrations. In fattening fowl for foie gras, [dried] greens and flower or seed protein will also create natural fat, used today for Jews to render as schmaltz for cooking fat as beef tallow and lard are forbidden foods. The first mention in Europe of foie gras is from a discussion of Jewish law by Rashi in the 11th century. As early as 2500 BCE, Egyptians crammed geese.

Cramming is a natural feeding habit for a goose--geese will eat until they are so full in the craw that they can fall over forward and will still try to eat more. Offering them a green flour paste "finger" pellet of food would be a morsel they couldn't resist--even if they were stuffed already--cramming or gavage is not a cruel treatment but a goose's delight.

When geese are penned for the winter, and fresh greens are not available, the high carbohydrate pellets, green in appearance from the nettles, produce the excess fat and enlarged liver so sought after by gourmands. Butchering normally occured in time to produce the holiday goose before the bird lost weight and its precious fat. Birds selected for foie gras would have been crammed for two or more weeks following confinement. This cramming relies on the greed of the goose to ingest "greens" at a time when little fresh green vegetation is available--literally greed produces foie gras.
* * *

Enjoy Foie Gras, source for whole [entire] and canned [bloc] foie gras and other French treats.
* * *

Johnson,Clarence. 1960. Management of Weeder Geese in Commercial Fields. California Agriculture. August. p. 5.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To Fatten Fowl for Foie Gras

To fatten all sorts of Fowl in fifteen days, whether Hens, Geese, Ducks, or others; from All-Hallows till Lent.
Take Nettle leaves and Seed, gathered and dryed in the proper Season, which beat to Powder and sift; when you would use it, make it into a Paste with Wheat-Bran or Flower, making it up with Dish-water; for want of it with warm Water; give it to your Fowl once a day, and you will see the effect.

Another way to fatten Fowl.
First put them into a Coop, and three times a day give them to eat a sort of Paste made of two parts Barley, and one of black Wheat, or Millet, ground together, the Flower sifted and the Bran taken off, of which make bits rather long then round, of a convenient size, and give them seven or eight a day, and in fifteen days or thereabouts, they will be very fat.

Taken from:
Modern Curiosities of Art & Nature. Extracted out of the Cabinets of the most Eminent Personages of the French Court. Together with the choicest Secrets in Mechanicks: communicated by the most approved Artists of France. Composed and Experimented by the Sieur Lemery Apothecary to the French King. Made English from the Original French. London, Printed for Matthew Gilliflower, at the Spread Eagle in Westminster-Hall, and James Partirdge, at the Post-house between Charing-Cross and White-hall. 1685, pp. 241-242.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Foie Gras - Several Ways

Tourtiere pan sits on a trivet in the ashes, cover closes and ashes can be put on top.

Recipes taken from:
Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 279-280.*

Foie gras braised. Sprinkle your livers with a little salt, pepper & sweet herbs [traditionally a blend of four herbs — Parsley, Chervil, Chives and Tarragon]; wrap them in a bacon slice & tie them in a little wet paper sheet; & put them between two embers [bury them in hot ashes—not glowing coals], to cook with small fire. Serve hot with good jus [their own juices].

Foie gras in a caul [lacy fatty membrane encasing the internal organs of an animal used to wrap food in for cooking]. Take your smallest pieces of foie gras; chop them with blanched bacon, a little grease & marrow, truffles, mushrooms, calf sweetbreads, parsley, Welsh onions [chives] & cooked ham, & bind the whole with an egg yolk; cut caul into pieces, according to the size of your liver pieces; put your farce on first the caul, then a layer of foie gras; cover with more farce and so on, until the layers of caul are used up with a layer of caul being last; wrap your livers in paper to put them on the grill, or better, in a tart plate; put them in the oven. Serve with a little hot jus [its own cooking juices], pepper, salt & juice of an orange [use orange juice to deglaze pan or paper and serve over bundle].

Foie gras (Another caul version). Put foie gras in a tart plate with bacon bards below; season with salt, pepper, & cover with rest of bards; bake in the oven or the hearth, fire [coals] above & below [a tourtiere baking pan makes this easy], without letting them dry out. Make a mushroom ragout; (see Champignons;) once they are cooked, simmer them gently in the ragout, & serve hot. One can also bread them & cook in the oven, like above [recipe], & serve with good orange juice.

Foie gras with Spanish sauce. Skewer your livers, alternating with bacon and cook. Serve with Spanish sauce. (See Sauces.)

Foie gras with ham. Cut ham slices finely [julienne]; make a roux and add to it ham, livers, a chopped Welsh onion [chives] & fine parsley; cook with small fire [slow oven] in a tart plate in the oven or on the hearth, fire above & below [again, the tourtiere pan is best for this]; season to taste[with salt and pepper], & serve with a lemon section and pan juices.

Foie gras roasted. Sear livers on stove top; then chop them with bacon, some mushrooms, sweet herbs, salt & pepper; cook with small fire [slow oven] in a tart plate.

Foie gras (Ragout) . Blanche [To Whiten--it is to steep in water, either cold or hot, to make plump or white, or both. You're looking to set the flesh so that it will not disintegrate in the next step.] your livers and drain; add diced mushrooms and a bouquet [garni] to the whole livers; moisten with broth or coulis and cook until heated through. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Foie gras (Tort). Make an undercrust of flaky pastry; line a tart pan; put raked [julienned] bacon, with salt, pepper, fine spices & sweet herbs; there arrange your foie gras with mushrooms, green peaks [tips of asparagus], truffles & will foam [fairy ring mushrooms { mousserons}], bouquet [garni] in the middle; season with a little more salt, pepper, fine spices and sweet herbs, cover with beaten & thin calf sections, & bacon bards, & over all seal with an uppercrust, gild with an egg yolk, & put in the oven; Bake until done. Open crust & remove calf & bacon; degrease & serve with ham essence [gravy].

Enjoy Foie Gras, source for whole [entire] and canned [bloc] foie gras and other French treats. Once your whole foie has been deveined, use the small bits to try some of the great recipes above.

*Foies gras à la braise. Saupoudrez vos foies de sel menu, poivre & fines herbes; enveloppez-les d’une barde de lard & d’une feuille de papier un peu mouillé; sicelez-les & les mettez entre deux braises, cuire à petit feu. Servez chaud avec du bon jus.

Foies gras à la crépine. Prenez les plus maigres de vos foies gras; hachez-les avec du lard blanchi, un peu de graisse & de moëlle, truffes, champignons, ris de veau, persil, ciboules & jambon cuit, & liez le tout d’un jaune d’œuf; coupez de la crépine par morceaux, selon la grosseur de vos foies; mettez de votre farce sur cette crépine, ensuite un foie gras; recouvrez de farce, & que le tout soit bien renfermé dans le crépine; ajustez vos foies dans du papier pour les mettre sur le gril, ou mieux, dans une tourtiere, pur les mettre au four; ensuite dépecez vos crépines. Servez avec peu de jus chaud, povre, sel & jus d’orange.

Foies gras. (Autre crépine de) Mettez des foies gras dans une tourtiere avec des bardes de lard dessous; assaisonnez de sel, povre, & recouvrez de bardes; faites cuire au four ou au foyer, feu dessus & dessous, sans les laisser sécher. Faites un ragout de champignons; (voyez Champignons;) tirez vos foies à sec; faites-les mitonner dans ce ragoût, & servez chaud. On peur aussi les paner & les faire cuire au four, comme dessus, & les servir avec de bon jus d’orange.

Foies gras à l’Espagnole. Embrochez vos foies; bardez de lard cuit. Servez avec une sauce à l’Espagnole. (Voyez Sauces.)

Foies gras au jambon. Coupez du jambon sort menu; passez-le au roux avec vois foies, une ciboule & du persil hachés fin; faites cuire à petit feu dans une tourtiere au four ou au foyer, feu dessus & dessous; assaisonnez de bon gout, & mettez une tranche de citron. Servez avec du bon jus.

Foies gras en rôtie. Passez-lez d’abord à la poële; hachez-les ensuite avec du lard, quelques champignons, fines herbes, sel & poivre, faites-en des rôties-que vous ferez cuire à petit feu dans une tourtiere.

Foies gras. (Ragoût de) Faites blanchir vos foies; passez des champignons coupes en dés avec un bouquet; mouillez de bouillon & de coulis; mettez vos foies entiers; faites-les bouillir queques bouillons, & servez avec un jus de citron.

Foies gras. (Tourte de) Faites une abaisse de demi-feuilletage; foncez-en une tourtiere; mettez du lard ratissé, avec sel, poivre, fines épices & fines herbes; arrangez-y vos foies gras avec champignons, crétes, truffes vertes & mousserons, bouquet au milieu; assaisonnez dessus comme dessous, couvrez de tranches de veau battues & minces, & bardes de lard, & par-dessus tout une seconde abaisse, dorez d’un jaune d’œuf, & mettez au four; ôtez ensuite le veau & le lard; degraissez & servez avec une essence de jambon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Symbolism of Liver

"According to the Roman poet Horace, the liver is the seat of the passions, particularly sensual love and anger. According to Suetonius, it is the center of the intelligence of the mind. Since the foie gras we eat comes from geese, it need not present us with any metaphysical problems - the stupidity of a 'silly goose', after all is proverbial - but it is true that consuming it provides a sensual, almost voluptuous pleasure.

. . . In the Sou-wen, the basis of all Chinese medicine, eating liver is supposed to engender strength and courage.

. . . Examination of the livers of sacrifices animals was a method used by Roman soothsayers to predict the future."

History of Food, Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne, translated by Anthea Bell. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford UK, p. 433-4.
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