If you perchance peruse historic goose recipes, going much further back than Dickens’ roast goose served on the Cratchit’s Christmas table, you will find a panoply of intriguing techniques. There is goose baked whole in a pastry crust in 16th century Italy, goose stuffed with oats and boiled, geese semi-roasted, slashed and finished on the grill in what was known as a carbonado in Restoration England, goose ragouts and others served in a staggering variety of sauces. But one in particular caught my attention. It hails from Le Cuisiner of Pierre de Lune, published in 1656, and involves salted cured goose, served in a “pottage” of puréed peas. Here is the recipe, translated from the original:
If the goose is salted, do not lard it; if it is not, then lard it with bacon; then cook it in a pan with lard, and then cook through with bouillon, and a bundle (of herbs). Cook your peas separately and pass through a seive with the goose bouillon, parsley, a bit of pepper, and a morsel of green citron. Garnish with fried bread and little bits of crumbled bacon.
To help recreate this dish, here is a full description of the technique: Carefully remove each half of the breast from the goose with a sharp boning knife. Keep the skin attached. Remove the legs and thighs intact for another use, such as confit. Use the bones and giblets for a light stock, which you can freeze for use later in the recipe. (Reserve the liver for yourself, seared and served on crackers.)
Mix 2 tablespoons of fine sea salt with 1.5 tablespoons of unrefined sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of instacure #1 (or “pink salt” which can be bought on line or at specialty grocers, or celery powder cure which works fine), 1 tablespoon ground pepper and a tablespoon of crushed juniper berries. Liberally coat the breasts, put into a large gallon-size ziplock bag and store in the refrigerator for a week to ten days. Turn the bag over every day.
Remove the breasts from the fridge, rinse off and pat dry. Brown them gently in a pan with a 2 tablespoons of melted lard (or goose fat). Toss in a bouquet garnis tied with string. Pour over goose stock to cover half way and cook breasts through very gently, with the pan covered, about 15-20 minutes. The final texture and taste will be remarkably like cooked ham.
Meanwhile boil a pound of green or yellow split peas in the bouillon with some parsley, pepper and candied green citron. Pass through a seive or purée in a blender or food processor. To serve, put the peas, which should be fairly thick, in a large deep platter and lay the goose breasts, thinly sliced, on top. Scatter croutons and bits of crumbled bacon on top for garnish. Serves 4-6 people.