The prep for this Super Bowl meal started a little more than two weeks ago with the beginning of the sauerkraut. Two heads of sliced cabbage went into a 5% brine, were weighted down with a Tupperware lid, plastic wrap, and a small casserole dish to keep everything under water, stashed in a cool place (below 70 deg) for two weeks. (Basic principles for natural pickling from Ruhlman/Polcyn’s Charcuterie.) The idea for this particular batch came out of conversations with my ninth grade Biology class as we were studying aerobic and anaerobic respiration. We discussed lactic acid fermentation and I figured it would be a great chance to pickle some cabbage. We tracked the change in pH over time, and after two weeks it had dropped to 3.96, nice and acidic, with a terrific bright and sour smell (just like sauerkraut!). So this past Friday I cooked up a bit of the class project with some sausages (no, not the goose sausages) as the class reviewed for an upcoming test.
The next piece of the puzzle came into place last weekend as I was handed several goose breasts by a friend in Pennsylvania. I’ve never cooked goose before, so I checked out Hank Shaw’s recipes at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and I went with a variation on his Toulouse-Style Goose Sausages. Goose has the highest percentage of red muscle fibers in breast meat among meat birds (85% according McGee), and it was this great deep beet-red color, more like venison than beef, and obviously darker than most poultry.
Instead of fatback I mixed in a pound of fresh pork belly for some additional fat. I stayed pretty true to Hank’s recipe, although I made a smaller batch because I only had about 2 lbs of goose. (I took one of the breasts to cure and dry as a goose prosciutto, so more on that later.)
To round out my Super Bowl trifecta (and since I was following his sausage recipe already) I made Hank’s Country Mustard. This idea has been bouncing around in my head since he wrote about it back in October. I didn’t make his recipe exactly, but I followed the principles he laid out in these two posts: How to Make Mustard and Basic Country Mustard. The basic gist is to combine some sort of mustard seeds (white, brown, or black) with some liquid. It can be water, wine, vinegar, beer — variation in liquid gives you corresponding variation in flavor. By understanding the chemical reactions that are going on, and by manipulating the ingredients, temperature, and acidity you should be able to steer your mix towards the kind of mustard that you’d like to make. Hank explains it really well, so you should read his posts.
Since this mustard is going to go with the sauerkraut and sausages for the Super Bowl, I opted to make a beer mustard. I chose brown as my seed of choice, and mortar and pestle for method of grind, plus a little cider vinegar, some garlic powder, a teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of sugar to round things out. That’s about it. You’ve got to give it at least a day or so to mellow in the fridge, because it’s definitely bitter just after you mix it all together (not kidding). And this particular batch has some bite to it. It might take some tinkering for me to get the proportions of ingredients down, but it’s something that I’m looking forward to making more of in the future, with lots of options for different flavors: stout, chipotle, maple, coriander, roasted onion, or smoked mustard!