– German Ganseklein Soup, by Hank Shaw –
Hank Shaw: They are as different from each other as apples, pears, oranges and lemons. Ducks and geese are in the same family, as are chickens and turkey. But in addition to sheer size — geese and turkeys are often twice the size of ducks and chickens — the larger birds are older and have a more varied diet than the smaller birds. All can be raised in factory farms except geese. Geese need to range free and largely eat grass; attempts to factory farm them have all failed. This is why a goose A) tastes a lot like grassfed beef and B) is expensive. It’s harder to raise geese than any of the other three birds you mention.
Meatwise, ducks and geese are 100% dark meat. This is because their wild cousins fly thousands of miles in migration, and fly every day as a matter of course. Gallinules, which include chickens, turkeys, quail and pheasants, are running birds. They will run rather than fly. This means their breast meat is white — for explosive flying just to get away from predators — and their legs are darker meat, because they wander around on foot all the time, where waterfowl prefer to fly.
HS: For a change of pace, for tradition — Christmas goose is a huge tradition in Europe — and for flavor. I find turkey boring, and while you might not want to switch it out for Thanksgiving for cultural reasons (although the Pilgrims ate geese and ducks at the first Thanksgiving; we’re not sure if they ate turkey.), give it a go for Christmas.
German Ganseklein Soup Recipe
For the soup
- 2 pounds goose or duck giblets (such as necks, wings, gizzards, and hearts but not livers)
- 6 cups water
- 3 or 4 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- 2 whole bay leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons duck fat or unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow or white onion sliced stem to root end
- 1 stalk of celery chopped
- 1 whole carrot peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 10 whole prunes pitted and halved
- 3 tablespoons malt vinegar or cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
For the dumplings
- 2 pounds floury potatoes such as russet
- 2 tablespoons duck fat or unsalted butter melted
- 1 duck or chicken egg lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- About 1/2 cup (3 ounces) all-purpose flour
- In a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot, combine the giblets and water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, skimming off any scum that floats to the surface. Add the cloves, marjoram, and bay leaves and a healthy pinch of salt. You want the broth to be a little undersalted now, as it will cook down over time. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for at least 2 hours or up to 3 hours, until the meat starts to fall off the neck and wings.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the duck fat over medium heat. Add the onion and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, to caramelize it. This will take about 20 minutes or so, and you may need to lower the heat or cover the pan to prevent the onion from burning. Once it is nicely browned, turn off the heat and set aside.
- Make the dumpling dough while the soup is cooking. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stab each potato all over with the tines of a fork, then rub with the duck fat (this helps them cook). Put the potatoes on a rack in the oven and bake for 1 hour, until when pierced with a knife. Remove them from the oven, break them open to release the steam, and let cool for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Put the cooked potatoes through a ricer or food mill held over a bowl, or just peel them and mash the potatoes with a fork in the bowl. Add the egg, bread crumbs, salt, nutmeg, and flour and mix just until combined. The dough should be slightly tacky but should still hold together when compressed into a ball. Do not knead the dough like bread dough or the dumplings will be very heavy. Set the dough aside for now.
- Once the meats are tender, turn off the heat and fish out the gizzards, hearts, necks, and wings. Roughly chop the gizzards and hearts, and pull off all of the meat from the necks and wings. Return all of the meats to the soup. Add the celery, carrot, caramelized onion, raisins, cranberries, and prunes. Turn on the heat again and bring the soup back to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for cooking the dumplings. Shape the dough into little balls, using about 1 tablespoon dough for each ball. When all of the dumplings have been formed, gently submerge them in the boiling water, which should drop in temperature to a simmer. Do not let it return to a boil; you want a gentle simmer for cooking the dumplings.
- When the dumplings start bobbing on the surface, which should take 4 to 5 minutes, it is your signal to remove them with a slotted spoon or wire skimmer.
- Add the vinegar and sugar to the soup, then season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more of any of these ingredients.
- To serve, arrange some dumplings in each bowl and ladle the hot soup over the top. Serve at once.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.