Goose was the one constant going in to the weekend. Knowing that Alex and Aki would be visiting and having had the good experiences that I have had with Mary Pratt's Elihu Farm geese, I thought it would be fun to cook one together. I was right.
The defrosted goose was left to dry uncovered overnight in the refrigerator. I then took it apart to Alex's specifications, separating the wings from the shoulder sockets and the hind quarters from the rest of the carcass while leaving sufficient skin behind to keep the breasts fully covered. I then cut out the neck and the rest of the spine and back, leaving the breasts on the sternum.
While getting ready to cut the spine into smaller pieces for easier cooking to make a stock, I identified the iliopsoas muscles running along the internal spine and dissected them out. Otherwise known as the tenderloins, these lovely strips of muscle were too small to do anything with other than quickly pan sear them and share the bites as cook's treats. Tasty!
In the meantime, Alex and Aki had set smoked bacon bits to cook on the stove, chopped onion and fennel, cooked the wings and hind quarters of the goose and began their initial cooking of the Rancho Gordo cannelini beans in the pressure cooker. Submerged in water they were cooked on low pressure for 5 minutes in the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker with the pressure allowed to dissipate naturally. The water was drained from the beans and the rest of the ingredients including a large can of LaValle San Marzano DOP tomatoes, the onion, fennel, cooked bacon, picked goose meat from the wings and hind quarters and herbs and seasonings were put back in the pressure cooker with the beans. These were cooked at high pressure for 25 minutes and once again the pressure was allowed to drain naturally.
The goose breast was cooked in it's own fat along with some olive oil and seasonings that included fennel fronds and juniper berries. This was cooked in the CVap at 125ºF for about three hours then seared skin side down in a hot cast iron skillet. Alex then deboned the breasts and sliced them adding three or four slices atop each plated bowl of cassoulet. The result was rich, complex and delicious with plump, creamy beans – a perfect finale for a cold winter night's savory dinner.