Crispy Goose Feast or a Slovak Cultural Lesson
Crispy Goose with Dumplings and Cabbage Here we are the end of November. Some of us are hoping for snow, children are already dreaming of presents under the Christmas tree while others consciously search for presents to fill...
Here we are the end of November. Some of us are hoping for snow, children are already dreaming of presents under the Christmas tree while others consciously search for presents to fill their family and friends’ wishes. However, at our Uni, the end of November means – MOVEMBER – a huge party on 5 floors organized by the American and Canadian exchange students in cooperation with the locals. Talking with them, I realized that although we know a lot about Western habits and feasts, they do not know much about us. I´m not blaming anyone as I have to admit that I also have little knowledge of the culture of the countries to the East of Slovakia.
As learning is a lifelong process, I’ll offer you a brief overview of our traditions at this time of year. While Americans are fully occupied with Halloween and Thanksgiving during the fall, in Slovakia the main feast would be "All Saints". Although Halloween is quickly making its appearance known in this part of the world, mainly because of big retail chains which offer each year more and more pumpkin and ghost decorations, the main concern of All Saints is to bring back the memory of those who have passed away. We do not have trick or treat, as the feast is not focused on children. Families reunite, they go to cemetery to light candles and often have a dinner together.
Besides other traditional dishes, fall is known for “GOOSE FEASTS”. Many restaurants organize large tables for their guests filled with food making the tables look like they’re bending under the weight. And if you have the urge to ask if there are any light dishes on the menu, the answer is, not surprisingly“NO”. Duck would not have its delightfully crispy skin without a fair amount of lard, and often stuffed with apples to add aroma. Dumplings made of white buns and all- purpose flour and the cabbage, which sounds healthy,is cooked with bacon. Guess your cholesterol levels are already crying for “help”, but believe me when I say, this stunning combination is worth it and eating it once a year is quite alright. You just have to find the stop-level as the next day you could be sorry for eating too much of this delectable seasonal treat.
Crispy Goose with Cabbage and Dumplings
- 1 whole goose
- 2 small apples
- cumin seeds
- 1 kg fresh red cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. of lard (or bacon)
- 300g onion
- 2 Tbsp.. cranberry jam/stewed cranberries
- 3 Tbsp. red vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 400 g white buns
- 2 Tbsp. of butter
- 3 eggs
- 250 ml milk
- 150 g all-purpose flour
- Flat leaf parsley
- Start with the GOOSE as it requires a significant baking time up to 3 hours. Take your goose and clean any giblets from the inside. Make a few criss-cross cuts just on the surface so that the fat could escape more easily.
- Season with a generous amount of salt and cumin (if you prefer a sweeter variation you may also add some honey. It’s not the way we do it in Slovakia though, as the cabbage should add the sweetness).
- Put the two apples inside the goose, transport in an ovenproof pan and start baking covered with a lid at 170°C for about 2 hours and 30 min. Every 30 min or so, baste with pan juices. When you see that the meat would easily fall off the bone, uncover and bake at 200°C for additional 20 minutes until crispy.
- Cut CABBAGE in thin stripes. Do not be afraid of the volume, as after cooking cabbage loses its juices, as does onion and significantly decreases in volume.
- Sauté chopped onions in a big pan with lard (or bacon). Add bay leaves, vinegar, cranberries and mix well. Add the stripes of cabbage; baste with some water if needed, cover with lid and cook at medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
- At this point you end up with a lot of thin liquid. Drain the juice to another large pan and heating to reduce a thicker sauce that you pour back over the cabbage.
- For the DUMPLINGS cut the buns in cubes and sauté them with the 2 Tbsp. of butter until golden brown. Mix together milk, eggs, salt, nutmeg and chopped parsley.
- In a big bowl incorporate the egg mixture with roasted buns and let rest for 15 minutes.Add flour and to make a dough.In a big pot bring water to a boiling point.
- Meanwhile form 2 logs with the dough about 20cm long and 5cm in diameter, wrap them in foil, pierce with a fork a few times and place them in the boiling water. Cook for about 15-20 minutes. Remove, unwrap and cut in 1cm thick slices.
- Serve the slices of dumplings drizzled with juice from the goose, the crispy goose and your sweet & sour cabbage and above all, Enjoy!