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June 07, 2010

Alinea at Home Adaptation: Goose, blood orange, sage, roasting goose aroma

For as long as I've been alive, not a winter holiday has gone by in the Blymire family without a cheeseball.  And no I'm not referring to my dad when he tells jokes.  You know what I'm talking about... something sort of Hickory Farms-ish without it actually being from Hickory Farms.  In our family, mom, grandma, and the aunts typically served just two kinds of cheeseballs (with Triscuits and Ritz crackers on the side, of course!) before our big family holiday dinners: one cheeseball was made with cheddar and port wine cheese and had a nutty crust; and, the other was some kind of cream cheese and olive concoction.  But only in the winter.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day.

Similarly, not a summer family gathering has gone by without deviled eggs.

Sometimes they had paprika on them, sometimes not.  That was about the extent of how fancy they might get.  Usually, it was just yer regular old chicken egg, hard-boiled and halved, with the yolks mashed with some yellow mustard and mayo before being spooned back into the hollows of the whites.  No high-falutin' accoutrements.  Don't even think about it, mister.

Now that it's summer, I crave my family's picnic foods.  Baked beans.  Iced tea.  BBQ sandwiches.  And deviled eggs.  So I thought I'd riff on one of the dishes in the Alinea cookbook and make a deviled goose egg.  I'm hoping to do the original Goose dish (pgs. 361-365), and have already put a bug in the ear of one Hank Shaw of Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook to see if we can't shoot a few geese and do it up right later in the year, but for now, I'm gonna show you how to take one of the recipes from the Alinea cookbook and adapt it in a way that might be more accessible for most home cooks.

*   *   *   *   *

Two Saturdays ago, I met my friend, Joe Yonan, at the 14th and U Market.  He's been hard at work on his book, and I wanted to drop off some pickled grapes I'd made so he'd have something new for that day's snack break.  As he rounded the corner to meet me at the market, he saw my bags were already full and asked what I'd bought. I went down the list of meats and fruits and vegetables, and ended with, "Goose eggs!"

And the "big, fat goose egg" jokes began.

They weren't really jokes, per se.  Just commentary on the phrase "big, fat goose egg."  So yeah.  I guess I thought I was going somewhere with that story, and it just kind of fizzled, didn't it.  STEVE HOLT!!

So yeah, back to the (big, fat) goose eggs.  I've had chicken eggs (duh), quail eggs, and duck eggs.  But I'd never eaten or cooked a goose egg before.  Have you? 

Here's what they look like:

DSC_0001 From L to R: chicken egg, duck egg, goose egg.  And yes, I did contemplate doing two duck eggs, then the goose egg and trying to be all "duck-duck-goose" but decided not you.  You're welcome.

And from another perspective, here's a chicken egg:


And, here's a goose egg:


Like a dumbass, I Googled "how to hard-boil a goose egg" and found a million WRONG ways to do it.  I mean, why should hard-boiling a goose egg be any different from a chicken or duck egg?  Goose eggs are only slightly bigger with a tad more cholesterol, but they're not really all that structurally different from a chicken egg, so I figured I'd hard-boil them the same way I do a chicken egg:

Two eggs in an empty saucepan.

Cover with cold water.

Turn on burner to high.  Bring water to a boil.

Let eggs boil in water for 60 seconds.

Cover saucepan with lid.  Turn off flame.

Let the eggs sit, covered, in the hot water for 12 minutes. (Because the goose egg is bigger, I let them rest in the hot water for 15 minutes.)

Remove eggs from hot water, and gently place them in bowl of ice water for 30 minutes.

Chill further in fridge, or store in fridge until ready to use.


While the eggs were cooling, I reduced two cups of duck stock to two tablespoons of duck I-don't-know-what-but-boy-did-it-smell-good:



I also baked a sweet potato (45 minutes at 350F) and cut off about 1/4 of it to mix in with the egg yolks:


I cracked and peeled the goose eggs, halved them, and whaddya know....


They were cooked perfectly.  If there's one thing I know how to do, it's hard-boil an egg.  Check out the whites of the goose egg, though.  It has that semi-opalescence of milk glass, doesn't it?

I gently popped out the yolks and tossed them in a mixing bowl with the reduced duck stock (which, in my mind. represented the foie gras in the original dish), the 1/4 sweet potato, about 2 tablespoons of diced turnip I'd sauteed in brown butter, a few shavings of whole nutmeg, and about a teaspoon of chopped fresh sage leaves.

DSC_0011 All the flavors (minus orange and fennel; they come into play later) from the original dish in the Alinea cookbook.

I mashed everything around, and decided there needed to be a bit more silkiness, so I added a scant teaspoon of homemade mayonnaise just to help with texture, and then re-filled each egg half (four in all), and topped them with a few dices of fresh orange segments and a wee fennel frond:


I tasted a tiny bit of the yolk on its own before mixing it with everything else, and I love how hearty it was... kind of like how a Thanksgiving turkey smells.  But I didn't really know how the end product was gonna taste.  I mean, deviled eggs are usually pretty good no matter what you do, right?  You can't really screw them up.  And, when I read and thought through all the ingredients in this particular deviled egg: egg, sweet potato, duck stock, sage, nutmeg, turnip, orange, and fennel, it all made sense to me.  Nothing stood out as being weird or gross or wrong. 

But I still couldn't fathom how it would taste.  My friend, Holly, dug into hers first and it was gone in three bites.  Linda and her son, Grant, enjoyed theirs pretty quickly, too.  As for my first bite?  Well, I picked that sucker up and bit it from the back end -- the end with the smaller amount of white.  And it was good.  Really, really good.  It was creamy and flavorful and filling, without feeling rich or heavy or gross.

It felt like slipping in between freshly laundered sheets after a long day and a hot shower.

Like finding a hand-written thank-you note from a friend among the pile of bills in the mailbox.

Like eating a strawberry fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun.

It was all those things and a little more.  That deviled egg was so full of new flavor combinations, and yet so full of comfort and familiarity.

So, if you can get your hands on some goose eggs (or heck, even duck or chicken eggs will work just fine), see what you could come up with to adapt this recipe from the book.  I bet you'll be surprised at how easy it is, and how much you'll enjoy it.  I know I am.

Up Next: Not sure yet.  I might go English Pea, I might go Chocolate. Maybe Porcini.  You've been warned.

Resources: Goose eggs from the awesome meat and egg dude (whose card I have since lost because I suck) at the 14th and U Farmers Market in DC; sweet potato from the TPSS co-op; orange, fennel, and fresh sage leaves from Whole Foods; nutmeg from my pantry; duck stock from my freezer; homemade mayo from my fridge; baby turnip from Waterpenny Farm at the Takoma Farmers Market.

Music to Cook To: No music; just the sound of a thunderstorm and the pouring rain.  Is there anything better than that?

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Excellent entry. This is a great way to think about the food in the Alinea book without feeling the need to buy a chemistry kit and adhere slavishly to the written recipes.

And for the record, I'd call that a "duck glaze."

Deviled eggs is one of my favorite things on earth. I've tried a million different versions. I come from a Southern background and deviled eggs are a staple at every family gathering. I am absolutely going to try a version of this - with the dozen duck eggs I just got my grubby little hands on.

Nice! We had been talking about how to use Grant Achatz's flavors in more, um, sane, presentations, and here it is! Me likey, and I have a great source for duck eggs, too...

As for goose hunting, you'll want to come out in December or January for it. That's when California's waterfowling gets hot.


Great post! I too love deviled eggs. I went through a few weeks when I was pregnant where you'd have thought I had just discovered them I ate so many!

I love the adaptation of flavors. Can't wait to try this!

Easter is not Easter without deviled eggs.

I've been reading your blog since TFLAH and all I have to say is wow! I am so impressed that you are at the point where you can look at a dish in the Alinea Cookbook and come up with a variation all your own. I am in awe of your mad cooking skills! Oh yeah, and I am so making these deviled eggs. I have a great source for goose eggs. Keep the great posts coming!

While of all the deviled egg recipes I've tried, I've always preferred those with mustard and a pinch or two of curry powder. However, this one sounds quite unique, a fully-different taste experience, and so I am going to have to try it!

At the moment I have duck eggs and turkey eggs in my frig; the turkey eggs are about goose egg size, but there's even less white rimming the yolk. Oh, and they are white with brown speckles on the outside.

I think I'll find two turkey egg volunteers, and buy the rest of the ingredients by the weekend. I'll report back. (I got to impress my co-workers with the hard boiled turkey egg I brought in with lunch the other day. So I think I can boil them.)

Great site! I found you serendipitiously while searching out recipes for sweetbreads.

I wanted to play duck duck goose though :(

May I just say that aside from the deliciousness of that egg and how impressed I am that you pickled some grapes (ew...), I think your camera skillz are getting much better.

I wish I could cook eggs that perfectly, wow. And for some reason when you said Steve Holt, I replied in my head, San Dimas High School Football Rules!

I just finished lunch at my desk here and that post started me drooling again! I have to try this one.

This looks wonderful!

And it is never not time for a STEVE HOLT! shout. I do it quite often--especially when I've done something kind of dopey that ends up working out.

Wow Carol, I'm really impressed by your confidence and your prowess. Three (?) years ago, you were so tentative to start a French Laundry dish that was only moderately complex, and now you've got the confidence to bust out all sorts of crazy flavor combos in non-precise amounts, and moreover, having it turn out awesome. So awesome to see you evolve this way!

"Michael: Are those Pills?
Steve: They're filled with oxygen and it makes you incontinent. It's called Oxy Incontin."

I vote to call that lovely duck goo: duck essence.

Just tried this. With my own modifications, of course.

No duck stock in the freezer, so I reduced de-fatted pan drippings from a roast chicken, and added that. And it was turkey, not goose eggs, which I called into service. (No, I've never eaten a goose egg, not yet.) Other changes: I simmered the sweet potato and the turnip in the pot I boiled the eggs in, figuring this would go quicker than baking. I omitted the sage (frankly, I forgot about it), the fennel frond (which is more decorative I'm sure), and I used store bought pre-ground nutmeg. I think next time I'd brown the turnip like you did.

The mix I made didn't need more mayo (I didn't measure anything; I was prepared to add more sweet potato since I don't have any mayo in the house; or maybe reduce down more chicken drippings.)

The orange fragment on top was the thing that ties the whole taste experience together for me. Like you, I only made 4 egg halves -- my supply of turkey eggs is limited. I've eaten one deviled egg half, the other three are cooling in the frig. I think the only change I'd make besides browning the turnip is to add a little more nutmeg. I'll just sprinkle more on top of the remainders once I pull them out of the frig.

I love your site, and you've kicked me to do something more than simply post recipes on Recipezaar. My own blog will be up as soon as I find my camera cable. :)

[Diann: You just made my day!! ---- CB]

Though Deviled Eggs typically invoke my gag reflex, these do look pretty good, and I always appreciate an Arrested Development reference. Good work all around.

This is great, because 1. I love deviled eggs and 2. you are taking a relatively low-brow food and making it amazing. Or, to look at it a different way, taking the high-brow complicated recipe and making it easy. Love, love love it. I can still bring deviled eggs to a potluck, but now they will be rockin' deviled eggs.
P.S. been following your blog since French Laundry. You rock.

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