Goose daube

I’ve had beef daube (Provençal farmhouse stew) in restaurants, but never goose. I recently read Richard Olney‘s memoirs about cooking and living and France (Reflexions, and the repeated references to daube made me want to try some. Then I remembered that I own the Poultry volume of Time Life’s The Good Cook series, which Olney co-authored, and sure enough, on pages 60-61, there’s a mouth-watering depiction of a goose daube.

(above: the goose pieces ready to be broiled, next to a comforting bottle of Chateau Figeac which we drank during the prepartion)

The ingredients are somewhat daunting. In addition to a fresh goose that has been butchered (the breast cut into 6 pieces), you need several sheets of pork rind and two calves feet, cut in half and then split lengthwise so that they will release their gelatin more easily. The goose pieces are then placed on a rack under the broiler for 20 minutes to reduce the fat – a good 4 cups came off. The pork rinds, calves feet, and goose pieces are then layered with chopped carrots, shallots, onion and a bouquet garni including a piece of scraped, dried bitter orange rind, in a daubière. I didn’t have a daubière (they’re hard to find and quite expensive) so I used a heavy enameled casserole. You fill the pot up with white wine (I used a Faiveley white burgundy), bring to a boil, and then cook over low heat “at the slightest suggestion of a simmer” for 5 hours. This took me to 3 AM, at which point I left it to cool and put it in the fridge.

(above: some of the pork rind)

(above: the layering process)

(above: adding the wine)

The next day I removed it from the fridge, skimmed off another tremendous quantity of fat, and slowly re-heated it – Olney recommends an hour and a half, so that the goose pieces don’t disintegrate. Some of the fat-juice is ladled off for the “inevitable accompaniment to daube” which is macaronade, essentially macaroni with parmesan cheese and a ladelful of daube juices. We also served some freshly shelled English peas.

French food is really made to accompany wine: the actual meal is the combination of the two, not one or the other. Olney’s menus are included in his book, and get more insane as he got older. A typical one from a meal he served Aubert de Villaine (of Romanée-Conti) in 1981 – and I swear I really did open the book at random, included Champagne Krug 1973, Chevalier-Montrachet (Niéllon) 1978, a magnum of Domaine Tempier rouge 1964, the great Rauzan Ségla 1900 (!), and Monbazillac 1874 for dessert.

We settled for a nice Coron 2003 Gevrey-Chambertin followed by a couple bottles of affordable Bordeaux, then a $9 Salice-Salenterno, and a bunch of digestifs. Hmm, going the opposite direction pricewise from Olney. Not to go all tangential, but this is a perennial problem in serving wine: start with the best or the worst? Comments, please.

And the daube: well, the goose meat was falling off the bone, more mildly flavored than I expected. The broth was really brothy and not stewy, and I’m not sure if that was right. Perhaps I needed more vegetables, or maybe I didn’t get the slightest suggestion of a simmer correct. I do have 2 pounds of calves feet in my freezer, and 2 massive pots of goose stock made from all the parts that I didn’t use in the daube, so I suspect I’ll revisit this topic.

4 thoughts on “Goose daube”

  1. Patrick, I’m expecting a little more on the Château Figeac past “comforting”. Packing away all my crap (and some not-so-crap wine), realised I’ve a Château Grand Corbin St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé from the same vintage. It could probably stand to be cracked soon, though I’m sure it’s no match for your Premier Grand Cru Classé.

    As regards the conundrum of best vs worst to begin, if it’s an evening where I expect to be capable of consuming a reasonable amount – start with the worst. My palette takes a while to wake up and I’ll still appreciate a good bottle at the end of an evening even if I can’t appreciate much else around me.

    ps Forgot to thank you for the Olney recommendation. Ordered and awaiting delivery.

  2. Fiona, I was hoping someone would point that out. It’s a bit ridiculous that we drank the Figeac the day before the goose (with chili at that! but Adam loves Bordeaux with chili). It was totally outstanding, intense dark cherry and cedar bouquet, seriously structured tannins (but soft after the initial impact), a bracing bitterness in the middle, and a long, complex finish. I’m sorry, I’m terrible at describing wines, but this was definitely the best I’ve had all year.

    Your suggestion for the order to drink wines makes sense for people who care and pay attention. Unfortunately I have some friends who will just throw back bottle 3 or 4 no matter what it is, once they get to that stage. Hmm, maybe it makes sense to save the best for bottle 2!

  3. i share the second bottle sentiment. i want a little foreplay, but don’t want to fall asleep waiting for the main event. plus by the third or forth bottle, everything sorts to start to taste, and feel, good.

    the château figeac bottle looks like a beauty with that cool orange and red font.

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