Along the Grapevine


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Canada Goose Confit Tamales

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This is a two-part recipe, one for a Canada goose confit and one for tamales, and each recipe can stand alone. The confit can be made from chicken, duck, or most meats, so if you don’t have goose, you can still use the same recipe. Likewise, just about any filling can be used for tamales – it is more for the methods than the exact ingredients that I write this post. You may have your own local ingredients that would serve well in these recipes.

I just happened to have received my annual Canada goose and wanted to prepare it in such a way that it could be preserved and used in small amounts for several recipes. So I began by making my confit.

Confit is a way of preserving poultry or meat so that it has a shelf life of several months. It can be bought ready-made in a good butcher’s shop, and although it’s expensive, it is worth it. Often used in cassoulets and other bean dishes, it can also be added to rice or vegetable dishes.

The process for making it takes some time, but it is really quite easy. First the meat is cured in salt for several hours, then cooked long and slow covered in fat – duck or goose fat is good if you have it, but lard or oil can also be used. Then it is packed and sealed, again covered in fat, in mason jars.

This was my first attempt, and while it worked, I would change my method slightly next time and make it less complicated. I did not have a second goose, so I made do with it, but for the recipe I will direct you to two recent posts I read on the subject. Forager Chef  offers a very straight forward method with a delicious berry sauce and Married with Cauldron who makes duck confit with sunflower oil. Both these recipes are very helpful to anyone trying this for the first time.

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Just for the record, I used lard that I had rendered myself. Once you remove whatever fat you have used to cook and store it, you can use that for heating up the meat, roasting vegetables, or as in my case, to make tamales.

Now for the second part of this recipe. I’d never made tamales before, but I have tasted many varieties of this ancient dish in several Latin American countries. If you are not familiar with them, they are a cornmeal mash filled with meat, vegetable and sometimes fruit, wrapped and steamed in corn husks.

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I keep corn husks on hand even though tamales have never been part of my repertoire. They are very useful for just about anything where you normally use aluminum foil. I use them on the grill, to roast and “tent”, sometimes just to line or cover dishes. They impart a delicious flavour of their own, and can be composted after use. I highly recommend them.DSC02857

I read many, many posts on making tamales, (the singular of which is tamal)  mostly from Latin America because I was looking for authentic recipes. Before this I had no idea that the cornmeal was usually mixed with beaten lard, but was relieved to find that I could use what I had from cooking the goose.DSC02853

For a vegetarian version, they are sometimes made with vegetable oil which I have yet to try. For this recipe I worked out my own proportions and flavourings, and aimed for something resembling what I knew. And I am pleased to say the recipe worked out just as I had hoped.

Canada Goose Tamales


Ingredients for the cornmeal

6 cups cornmeal

4 cups stock (approximately)

1 Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 cups lard (or other fat)

Ingredients for the filling

1 lb goose confit

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp each coriander, cumin and black pepper

2 hot chili peppers (or to taste)

2 tsp pepper jelly (or other sweet condiment)

I/2 cup stock, vegetable or meat or combination of both

To make the goose filling, fry the onion until it is soft. Add the garlic, pepper and spices and cook for a further two minutes. Add the stock and jelly, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

To make the cornmeal mixture, start by pouring hot water over the husks and all them to soak until soft, about ten minutes. Combine the dry ingredients and stir in the stock gradually until mixture is the consistency of peanut butter. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile beat the lard with an electric mixer until it is very fluffy (see photo above). Stir the lard into the cornmeal mixture.

Place one corn husk on a flat surface and spread the corn mixture in a thin layer in the centre, leaving about 3/4 of an inch at either end, and about half an inch on either side. Place about 2 Tbsp of filling down the centre of the corn and roll up the husk. Tie the ends with string or with strips of corn husk. Repeat for the other tamales.

Place in a steamer and steam for 20 minutes. To serve, untie the bundles and discard the husks.

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There was enough cornmeal for 3 dozen tamales, but only enough goose filling for 16. For the rest I made a vegetable filling with caramelized onions, chopped wild mushrooms, grated scapes, seasoning and a little vegetable stock, following the same method as I used with the goose filling.DSC02862

Once steamed, tamales can be stored in the fridge for three days or frozen for longer, and reheated by steaming them again for about five minutes (depending on how thick they are). They can be eaten on their own as a hearty snack, a light meal, and combined with salad, salsa, refried beans or however you like. DSC02864

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Linked to: Fiesta Friday #102;  hosted by Angie at The Novice Gardener, co-hosted by Elaine at Foodbod and Julie at Hostess at Heart

 


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Mole a la Canadienne – with Cornbread or Venison

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With a new batch of venison to work with, I decided to make a Mexican style mole, a spicy, savoury chocolate sauce usually served with chicken. Once I worked out a version of this which included some of my own local ingredients, I thought it too good not to share with vegetarians too, which is why today I am bringing to Fiesta Friday two dishes, one vegan and one using meat. The mole is not as complex as many of the authentic Mexican recipes out there in that I only used one kind of chili pepper. However, the other spices, dried fruit and chocolate resulted in a delicious addition to the simplest of meals, and it is so easy to prepare that you could make it and figure out how you want to serve it a few days later. Just beware that after a couple of days the heat increases, so if you don’t want it too hot you might want to reduce the amount of peppers you use.

Mole a la Canadienne

Ingredients

5 dried chilis serranos

1 cup hot water

1 dozen dried apricots

2 Tbsp sumac powder

2 cloves

3 allspice berries

1 star anise 1 2-inch cinnamon stick

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate

herbs and roasted hazelnuts for garnish

Method Soak the chilis in hot water for about 15 minutes in a saucepan. Grind the cloves, anise and allspice and add them along with the cinnamon and sumac to the chilis in water and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon and pour the mixture into a blender. Add the apricots and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Return to the pan and add the grated chocolate. Heat until the chocolate is melted. This will keep several days in the fridge but might need a little extra water when reheated.

To serve it with cornbread, any savoury recipe works for this, but I highly recommend this one from The Breakfast Drama Queen. Not only is it vegan and gluten free, but it is super tasty and nutritious with the addition of squash. Coriander leaves would make a perfect garnish along with the hazelnuts, but I used some sweetened, dried dandelion leaves. DSC01593

For the venison, I used a rump roast. I sliced it so that the marinade would penetrate completely. A simple marinade was all that was needed, as the spices in the mole were sufficient. I apologize for not having pictures of the finished product – not too sure how that happened. Perhaps with the excitement of this birthday dinner I neglected to check the camera had its bit, so I will try to make another and add photo when I am focussed. DSC01592

Venison with Mole

Ingredients

1 1/4 lbs venison

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

fat for frying salt and pepper to taste

toasted nuts and herbs for garnish

Method

Slice the meat to a thickness of about 1/4 in. Place in a dish and cover with the garlic, oil and vinegar mixture. Allow it to sit several hours in the fridge. When ready to cook, drain and pat the slices dry and season with salt and pepper. Fry on a medium high heat a couple of minutes on each side, or longer if you want them well cooked. Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and herbs.

Serve with the mole and garnish with the nuts and herbs, such as parsley, cilantro or dandelion leaves.


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Canada Goose Pie

This is a post especially for the hunters, or those who end up with the booty from their hunting buddies but have no suitable recipe. You are not going to find Canada goose in your local supermarket, but I know there are lots of people who acquire it, and once you have it, it is worth doing something really special with it. I have cooked Canada goose before, and know that it is very dark and lean, strong enough that it can stand a good amount of slow cooking and a generous amount of seasoning.

I was given two birds, all cleaned and cut into nice neat pieces, so I had only two sets of legs and breasts to contend with. I wanted a dish that was easy to serve, wouldn’t have to be consumed all at one meal, and did not require any last minute fussing. If you have one bird, you can make half the recipe. In that case you could cook it in a loaf tin instead of a pie dish, but either way is good.

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I used two slow cookers. I’m not sure what temperature they cook at, but I had it at the low setting and the juice was bubbling gently. If you use a Dutch oven pot in your oven, I would begin with a setting of 200 degrees and check that the meat is hot enough to be cooking thoroughly.

Don’t be alarmed by the addition of anchovies. When cooked with meats, the anchovies just dissolve and add a lot flavour – not fishy though. There is no salt in this recipe, but if you choose not to use the anchovies, you will need to add salt. If you don’t have angostura bitters, you could use Worcestershire sauce in its place.

Canada Goose Pie

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

3 rashers of bacon

legs and breasts from 2 Canada geese

1 large carrot cut into thick slices

1 large onion or equivalent, cut into bit sized pieces

1 cup red wine

1 cup water

1 Tbsp fresh rubbed sage

1 tin anchovies

2 tsp angostura bitters

1 tsp ground pepper

3 Tbsp flour (I used Jerusalem artichoke, but any sauce thickening agent can be used)

pastry for a  deep 9″ pie (or equivalent)

1 beaten egg for brushing on the surface

Method

Fry the bacon until it is cooked and has rendered most of the fat. Remove and set aside.

Fry the goose pieces in the bacon fat until browned on all sides.

Put the goose, vegetables and chopped bacon pieces into a slow cooker (I had to use two cookers for this amount).

Deglaze the pan in which the goose was cooked with the wine. Add the water, sage, anchovies, angostura bitters and pepper and pour this mixture over the goose. Cook for about 7-10 hours at a low setting, making sure there is always some liquid in the pot. When done, drain the liquid into a bowl, remove the meat, break it up with two forks as you would with pulled meat and discard the bones. Thicken the liquid with the flour, but no need to heat it as it will cook in the pie.

Fill the pie crust with the works, brush the surface with 1 egg and make cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 425 F for ten minutes, lower the heat to 350 F and cook for another 50 minutes.

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Serve it hot with mashed potatoes, and serve leftovers at room temperature or reheated. When cooled, the pie resembles a terrine and is excellent with pickles and salad.

Happy Fiesta Friday!