Hard Work for Half a Goose

Address:Schlossgasse 21, 1050 Wien
Status:Open (last checked on 14 November 2020)
Eaten:Martinigansl (take-away)

After the last take-away disaster, I decided to play safe and went for Silberwirt, a well-known goose place and a surprise winner of 2017’s gold award. The restaurant itself was closed because of the lockdown, so I had to pick up my goose at the nearby pizzeria, quite possibly belonging to the same owners.

The restaurant offered two options: a standard quarter of a goose, most likely served as a finished dish to be warmed up and eaten quickly, or a half of a goose in the sous vide format, that is in a vacuum bag and requiring some preparation. I went for the latter, partly because of the greed, and partly because I really needed to take a break from goose-eating, and keeping a vacuumed goose in a fridge should not have affected it much.

Unlike earlier sous vide geese, Silberwirt’s bird came with no instructions whatsoever, but I remembered enough of my previous experiences to feel quite confident that I was not going to screw up. I was even quite happy to have half a goose because I could experiment with the oven’s temperature and if the wing would not end up as crunchy as I wanted, I could cut off the leg and try to cook it longer.

The first problem though was that the goose did not fit onto my oven pan without being cut in half in advance. Sparing you the details, the cutting was a rather messy undertaking, requiring a thorough subsequent cleaning of the kitchen table and somewhat spoiling my initially favorable opinion of the goose. While it was roasting, I struggled with the other ingredients: the red cabbage, the potato dumplings and the special sauce, which all came in separate containers too big to fit in the microwave all at once (the portions were large; it was a goose for two, after all). As a result, while I was warming one of them, the other inevitably got colder.

Still, I think I managed quite well, and some forty minutes later had a sizzlingly hot goose wing on my plate, swimming in a little lake of thick brown sauce. The first bite was very satisfying: for the first time I managed to get the skin reasonably crispy. The meat underneath was well-cooked and easy to chew, but lacking the typical goose taste and smell. Dipping it in the sauce was not helpful, for the sauce itself obviously had very little to do with geese. I must have been enjoying the goose, however, because just a few minutes later I was facing an almost full plate of cabbage, a barely tried dumpling and a pile of bones. A bit too many bones, even, as if the goose had two skeletons, one inside the other.

Motivated by my success, I threw away the waste, washed the plates, washed the sink, and concentrated on the leg, which I was intent to make the crispiest ever. Eventually the smoke coming out of the oven told me that unless I wanted to have the most burnt goose leg ever, it was time to take it out. A small part of the bone indeed turned black, but the skin did not become crispy at all. In fact, underneath the leg I found a ball of something that was skin, fat and small bones, and that stuff hardly got cooked at all. It looked extremely unappetizing and went into the bag with the ever-growing hill of waste. And then, a few bites later all the meat was gone. For half a goose, there was not much meat, after all.

But there was a lot of work. The bones had to be disposed of, the plates had to be washed, the pans had to be washed, the sink had to be cleaned from fat and the tiny bits of goose and cabbage threatening to clog the pipes, the table had to be cleaned… by the time I finished, I regretted starting this whole sous vide business. This goose was nothing like the winner I remember from three years ago. It was not bad either, nevertheless, so if you are better at cooking then me (which is very easy) and have a large over pan, you can give it a try. But don’t expect the result to be enough for two.

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