serves: 8 to 10 servings
Roast Goose is a festive dish throughout all of Northern Italy but the Istrian tradition of serving goose with mlinzi reflects the culinary customs of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. And while roast goose by itself is utterly delicious, to have a forkful of mlinzi at the same time, drenched with sauce, is absolute heaven.
Mlinzi are a simple form of homemade pasta, with an unusual distinction. After the fresh dough is rolled into thin sheets, it is baked in a low oven until crisp and toasted gold. The stiff sheets are later cracked into jagged shards and cooked like ordinary pasta. As a result mlinzi are more porous and seem to drink up their dressing-in this dish, the richly flavored sauce made from the goose's roasting juices. The baking also imparts a lovely nutty flavor to the pasta which complements the dark meat deliciously. That's why roast goose and mlinzi are a match made in heaven.
This is a large festive meal and does require considerable time and attention. It is best done in stages, the mlinzi prepared and baked a couple of days in advance so you can focus on roasting the goose and making the sauce.
Fresh pasta dough , (see recipe for fresh pasta)
For the goose and pan sauce
12 pound goose, fresh or fully defrosted if frozen
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 branches fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound onions, peeled and quartered
½ pound carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
½ pound celery stalks, with leaves, cut into 2-inch chunks
½ cup dried porcini slices, chopped into small pieces
6 juniper berries
5 cups chicken broth, or other light stock
freshly ground black pepper
For cooking and finishing the mlinzi
1½ tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, for cooking
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Grana Padano, freshly grated
Roll and bake mlinzi a day or two in advance and keep in a dry place, to remain crisp.
The night before roasting, open up the goose, remove the giblets and neck if packed inside, and remove the lumps of fat from the main and neck cavities (save the fat for rendering or discard). Rinse the bird thoroughly in cool running water, washing any residue from the cavity. Rinse the giblets as well and pat everything dry with paper towels. Rub salt all over the goose and sprinkle some in the cavity, using about 2 tablespoons in all. Set the goose on the wire rack in the roasting pan, breast up, and put it uncovered in the refrigerator to dry overnight. (Wrap and refrigerate the neck and giblets.)
The next day, remove the goose from the refrigerator an hour or two before roasting and let it come to room temperature. Arrange a rack in the lower part of the oven and heat to 425?.
Put the bay leaves and rosemary branches in the cavity of the bird. With the breast up, twist and fold the long wing tips under the wing joints, so they're wedged tightly against the back. Bring the legs together, crossing the ends of the drumsticks and wrap with kitchen twine. Loop the twine under the goose tail and tighten to close the cavity, then knot securely. Drizzle the olive oil over the breast and sides of the bird. Prick the skin of the goose all over with the point of a trussing needle or skewer, to speed draining of fat.
Roast the goose for 30 minutes to melt and drain body fat, then remove the pan carefully and lower the oven to 350°. Lift out the wire rack with the goose and set it on a carving platter or baking sheet. Pour the hot fat from the roasting pan into a large can or milk carton (you'll collect nearly a quart of fat by the end of roasting.)
Put the rack with the bird back in the pan and spread the vegetable chunks and chopped porcini around it. Nestle the goose neck and giblets, including the liver, in with the chunks, scatter in the juniper berries and sprinkle another tablespoon salt over the vegetables. Pour 3 cups of the broth into the side of the pan partly submerging the vegetables and giblets. Cover the goose with a tent of heavy aluminum foil, arched so it doesn't touch the skin and crimp the foil tight against the sides of the roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven.
Roast the covered bird for an hour, then remove the foil tent. If the vegetables are still only partly submerged in liquid, continue roasting uncovered. If more accumulated fat has completely covered the vegetables, carefully pull out the oven rack and spoon off as much fat as you can, removing it to a fat separator, if you have one, or a heatproof cup. Return the goose to the oven, and continue to roast uncovered. (When the liquid you just removed has settled, discard the fat and pour the recovered broth back into the roasting pan.) After an hour, when the breast is nicely caramelized, dark and crisp, check for doneness with a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching a bone). When it reads 170° or above, you can safely take the goose from the oven (it will continue to cook as it rests). If the goose needs more roasting and the breast is already quite dark, cover it loosely with foil. If the opposite is true, that the meat is done but the breast is not caramelized, turn up the heat to darken it quickly.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt to a boil for the pasta.
When the goose is perfectly roasted, remove it, still on the rack, to the carving platter. Cover it loosely with the foil tent and keep in a warm spot.
To make the sauce, transfer the neck and giblets, (not the liver) from the roasting pan to a medium saucepan. Hold back the vegetable chunks and goose liver in the roasting pan as you empty all the liquid through a sieve set over a large measuring container or bowl (a 1-quart fat separator is ideal). Put the liver and vegetables (including any caught in the sieve) in a potato masher and crush them directly into the saucepan.
When the strained roasting liquid fat has separated, discard the fat, and pour the juices into the saucepan. Add enough fresh hot broth to make a total of 6 cups of liquid or more. Use some of the additional broth to deglaze any caramelization left in the roasting pan and add that to the saucepan as well as the juices the resting goose will release.
Bring the sauce liquid to a boil and cook, partly covered, for 20 minutes or so, to extract flavor and concentrate the broth. When reduced to about 5 cups and slightly thickened, turn off the heat. Taste and season with more salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Pour 3 cups of the sauce into a big skillet to dress the mlinzi and keep the rest to pass later at the table.
Meanwhile, for the mlinzi: Break all the baked pasta sheets into irregular shards, 2- to 3-inches wide, and pile them in a large bowl or tray. (If you have youngsters around, they will be happy to assist with the snapping and cracking.)
When the goose has rested at least 20 minutes and the sauce is almost ready, drop the mlinzi into the pot of boiling water. Stir well, cover, and cook about 3 minutes until soft and floppy but still al dente. Lift the mlinzi out with a spider, drain, and spill on top of the sauce in the big skillet. Toss and tumble the pasta for a couple of minutes over medium heat, until cooked through and saturated with sauce. Turn off the heat, drizzle the 1/4 cup olive oil over all, scatter on the grated cheese, then toss. Keep warm while you carve the goose.
Carve the goose at the table (or if you have a good carver among your guests, call on him or her). Goose joints are tricky to find, lower down than on other birds, and notoriously tight, but just pry the limbs open. Otherwise carve as you would a chicken. Serve with the dressed mlinzi, steaming hot, and pass the extra sauce around.