Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cooking My Goose

my grandmother came to visit us when i was a kid around the holidays. i remember she'd stay with us for a reasonably long period of time each time she'd come to visit -- which wasn't often, because she had a life of her own, ya know. she was a reverend in a very small town on west virginia and i didn't realize what a big deal it was for a small, compact, very fair skinned, grey-eyed black woman to be a reverend in a southeastern town until i grew up, but that's neither here nor there. back to my gee-gee (she was called gee-gee because my cousin, barbara, who was the first grandchild, couldn't say "grandmother" when she was a baby and called her "gee-gee" -- which is really pronounced "ghee-ghee" like a double dose of indian clarified butter, to which i can relate, for sure). she came to visit us and made us a christmas goose with saurekraut dressing. i had no idea there was sauerkraut in it until i grew older and asked my mom to make it for me, to which she replied she had no idea how and "gee-gee made it with sauerkraut dressing, and i have no idea how she made it". quite a drag, quite frankly, because it was delicious and wonderful. gee-gee is long gone, but that memory has stayed with me forever and my sons have come to appreciate and demand that christmas isn't christmas unless we cook a goose. amazing.

you might wonder how you cook a goose and it's rather simple, really. prick the fatty skin (except the breast, ya know, cuz the breast is dry enough without willing all that fat to go away from it -- yikes!). some people soak it in a salted brine overnight, some people steam it first then roast it and some folks boil it to get the fat off of it before they roast it. however you choose to do it, do it with frivolity and the knowledge that charles dickens is smiling down at you.

but, anyway, we're having goose and christmas ham, another tried and true recipe passed down to me by my mom's side of the family, this time from my mom herself. this was ages ago and i've made it many a time. my son, brandon, who doesn't like ham as a general rule, tends to ask for it this time of year. go figure.

we have a rule for both thanksgiving and christmas: we choose names out of a hat and whosever name is chosen gets to pick that year's thanksgiving feast and the next person to have their name chosen gets to pick our christmas feast. this year we are doing two fabulous traditions. every christmas, actually, somehow we get a choice of goose and ham. lovely.

and, so, in our fridge right now is a goose, a ham, some good ginger, a bit of... wait a minute! these are secret recipes i can't share with the world, but i promised some low cost things to get you through, didn't i? and you shall have them... and here they are for today:


i think you'll like these. they're a fave of ours through the years and something that's easy, fast and yummy. at least those kiddles of mine think so.

Egg Pie
2-9" deep dish pie crusts, frozen (oh, yes -- i said frozen, i like Pet Ritz or Marie Calendar's, but it's up to you -- you can also make your own butter pie crust which is a cost saver if you've got the ingredients around your house and you don't fear pie crust, which many do, and i do make my own, but when it comes to cost cutting and time saving, these frozen dealies are really handy)
1-dozen eggs
1 large jar fave marinara sauce -- me, i make my own (cost saving, truly), but when i do use jarred, i choose Newman's Own or Classico
1 package shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

what to do:
1. pre-bake your two pie crusts on a baking sheet per the package instructions. if using a homemade pie crust, pre-bake for 15 minutes at 400ºF then let cool. turn the oven down to 350ºF.
2. crack 6 eggs into a bowl and a dash of salt and pepper then whisk until frothy. heat some vegetable oil spray in a (preferably) non-stick skillet until a drop of water sizzles and add the eggs. stir until just beginning to cook then transfer to one of the pie crusts, spreading across the bottom evenly. cook the rest of the eggs the same way and fill the pie crust. it will not come to the top of the crust, but should fit nicely on the bottom. note: you don't want to cook your eggs completely. you want them rather wet, but not completely raw.
3. pour about 1/2-3/4 cup of the sauce over the eggs, spread across the top. sprinkle with enough cheese to cover. continue with the other pie.
4. pop into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the eggs are cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. let set for about 10 minutes before serving.

okay, here's the cool thing about this: our family serves this every christmas morning with really good sausages my faboo sis-in-law gets from the butcher up the street from their place. we make about four or more pies, cuz there's a bunch of us when we all get together and it's one of those things you can eat throughout the day, reheat the next day, the whole deal. the boys and i have taken to adding stuff into the eggs while they're cooking and it's really yum. it's transformed into a lunch item and a dinner item. for example, the other night i made it for the kids -- made two more for work that morning, got snowed in, covered them up, refrigerated 'em and reheated them in the ayem and took them to my pals at my humble work space -- and i added some ground beef sauteed in garlic, herbs and mixed with sauteed potatoes and leeks. divine. the egg pies i made for work were also unique -- i made one basic one and one with leeks and potatoes (too many vegetarians or meat conscious people at my office to want to inflict beef on everyone). you could add whatever you like, in moderation, to create quite a dinner. this notoriously is to serve four people each, but you can cut the wedges smaller and get more out of each pie -- even eight pieces out of each. if you choose to add things like mushrooms, seafood, spinach or even cheese to your eggs, make sure you thoroughly cook the veggies and seafood and drain well before adding to the eggs, with the cheese, don't add too much because it'll make the eggs mealy if you do. i would use the ratio of 1/4 cup of anything you add to the eggs as they cook for each 1/2 dozen you scramble. too much is, well, too much, ya know? the versatility of this is why i like this as a cost saving alternative meal. a lot of folks already have this stuff in their fridge and if you don't feel like having to buy pie crust, then you can make it from scratch. i have another recipe we make for a lazy sorta strata, but that's for another time. you can serve this in the morning with sausage, bacon, fruit, lunch with a salad and crusty bread or soup, dinner with some great veggies like sauteed greens or zucchini, a nice viognier chilled to perfection or whatever. it's good.

this next is such a great cold weather cure all that takes no time at all, i fall in love and you can get two meals out of it. watch and learn, people. watch and learn.


1 package of chicken breast halves, skin and bones on and in
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 celery stalk (preferably with leaves still on), cut into chunks
handful of italian parsley, stalks included
1 garlic clove, smashed
enough chix broth to cover
salt & pepper, to taste
matzo ball mix -- follow directions on the package
1/2 package fine egg noodles -- cook per directions on package

1. clean your chix breast halves and place them in a dutch oven. add the onion, celery, parsley, garlic clove and cover with chicken broth. add salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.
2. simmer for about 20 minutes then turn off the heat and let the chix sit in the broth until cool. take the chicken out of the broth, strain the broth of the veggies, put it back in the pot and set aside.
3. take the skin off of the chicken and pull it off the bone. set aside chicken from one of the half breasts and shred the rest into a bowl, adding in a bit of the onion and a splash of the broth. season to taste with salt and pepper, add mayo to your desired amount, some chopped celery (if you're into that crunch in your chix salad), a little pinch of garlic powder and keep in fridge until ready to use.
4. chop the reserved chicken breast meat from the one remaining half into cubes and add to the broth. set on low to heat up. add the cooked egg noodles.
5. make the matzo balls per package instructions. when cooked, raise the heat on the broth until it is simmering and add the matzo balls. bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
6. ladle the soup into bowls allowing 1 matzo ball per person and serve along with either crackers for dipping in the chicken salad or the chicken salad on sandwiches.

here's the deal -- cooking the chix with the skin and bones gives it more flavor. just take all of that off and out when it is ready. this is one of those all purpose, great on a cold night or afternoon dishes that can be made in pretty much one pot, if you like. you can add carrots to this (i, personally, despise cooked carrots, so it takes a lot for me to do that, although i do add carrots to my bolognese sauce, so, ya know...), float a poached egg in the soup -- which, of course, i do ALL THE TIME -- not add the chicken, add the chicken, whatever you like. i like serving the chicken salad with sturdy kettle chips or tortilla chips and dipping into it with that. i'm not much for potato chips, but i am a total tortilla chip whore and will do whatever i can to eat the with whatever i can. this chix salad is super yummy on it. yep.

and, so, here are some holiday time and money savers for you. i'll be back tomorrow, cuz it's christmas eve, dontcha know, and i have one last word on 2008, if that's cool.


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