A goose and a rabbit recipe for your spring table

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9780811866705While Irish cuisine may not be familiar to people in northern Quebec, it is entirely possible to take inspiration from the majestic land of shamrocks and sheleighlys.

Paging through The Country Cooking of Ireland, Colman Andrews’ 2009 cookbook, is to bear witness to Ireland’s beauty and bounty thanks to the breathtaking photographs of Christopher Hirsheimer. Besides highlighting Ireland’s culinary diversity, the book illuminates the history of these dishes and the people who make them.

A James Beard Foundation cookbook of the year, this stunningly gorgeous book shouldn’t only be thumbed each year for St. Patrick’s Day as it includes numerous recipes for everything from pork to venison to poultry and easy-to-prepare but delicious plans for vegetable side dishes.

This cookbook is a celebration of and a guide to making gorgeous fish, fine potatoes, divine carrots, beautiful breads and delightful cakes.

Here are two recipes from the book that can be used to celebrate the wild meats and game of Eeyou Istchee, blending traditional cultures and flavours.

Michaelmas Goose

Serves 8

Goose is so firmly associated with Michaelmas (September 29) in Ireland that the old Irish name for the holiday was Fómhar na nGéanna (the goose harvest). There are countless variations on the stuffing, but they usually involve apples and potatoes.

1 9-to-11-lb (4½-to-5½-kg) goose, with giblets, completely thawed if frozen
3 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
bouquet garni (2 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, and 1 bay leaf, wrapped and tied in cheesecloth)
4 slices bacon, minced
2 tbsp butter
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 cups/850 g freshly made mashed potatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
applesauce for serving

Separate the liver from the giblets and set aside. Put the heart, neck and gizzard in a medium pan. Add a third of the onion, the carrot, celery and bouquet garni, then add enough water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for two hours.

Fry the bacon over medium heat in a large skillet with a lid (do not cover) until brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Lower the heat, add the butter to the bacon fat, and when it has melted, add the remaining onions. Cook, stir¬ring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they soften.

Finely chop the reserved goose liver, then add to the onions. Cook for three to four minutes, then add the apples to the skillet. Cover the skillet and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the apples have broken down and are very soft. Stir in the mashed potatoes, sage, thyme and parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C (Gas Mark 6).

Wash and dry the goose thoroughly inside and out. Pull out any fat inside the cavity and reserve it to render later for cooking fat. Prick the skin of the goose all over with a fork, then rub salt all over the skin Season the cavity with salt and pepper, then fill with the stuffing. Truss the goose with kitchen twine, binding the legs and wings close to its body.

Put the goose into a heavy roasting pan large enough to hold it, with a little room around the sides, and roast it for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and draw off the rendered fat with a bulb baster or large spoon. (Reserve the fat for cook¬ing.)

Return the pan to the oven and decrease the tempera¬ture to 325°F/160C (Gas Mark 3). Roast for about 2½ hours more, drawing off rendered fat at least once more as it cooks. Test for doneness by pricking the thigh at its thickest point with a skewer. If the juices run clear, the goose is done; if they’re pink, roast for another 15 minutes, then check again.

Meanwhile, strain the giblet stock, discarding the solids, and set aside.

When the goose is done, transfer it to a large serving platter to rest. Draw off any remaining fat, then set the roasting pan over two burners on the stovetop. Deglaze with the stock, scrap¬ing up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Strain the gravy into a gravy boat or bowl.

Carve the goose at the table. Serve with applesauce and the gravy.

Stuffed Rabbit Armagh Style

Serves 4

I don’t know the origins of this recipe, in which the rabbit is stuffed and pot-roasted, or even whether it is really typical of Armagh, but it appears in Mary Caherty’s book, Real Irish Cookery (1987), and has been widely appropriated in other recipe collections.

4 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup/60 g fresh bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 3-to-4-lb (1½-to-2-kg) whole rabbit (completely thawed if frozen), washed and dried inside and out
1½ cups/360 ml chicken or rabbit stock
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C (Gas Mark 4).

Melt two tbsp of the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add the apples and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the apples are very soft.

Put the onion-apple mixture into a large bowl, then stir in the bread crumbs, parsley thyme, sugar and egg. Season the mixture generously with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining two tbsp of butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the stuffing and cook for three to four minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

When the stuffing is cool enough to handle, pack it loosely into the cavity of the rabbit. Put the rabbit into a baking dish and spoon any leftover stuffing around it. Pour the stock over the rabbit, cover the dish loosely with foil, and bake for 1½ hours. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the rabbit is very tender and most of the stock has evaporated.

To serve, cut the rabbit into serving pieces with poultry shears. Put the stuffing in the middle of a serving dish and arrange the rabbit over it.

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