June 8, 2011

Fat, Frugal and Stuffed

Reading through the PA Dutch Cookbook, you will quickly recognize that PA Dutch cooking has two frequent characteristics: 1) it's frugal, and 2) it's full of fat. Philadelphia Pepper Pot is a soup that features two types of tripe (who knew there was more than one?) plus a veal knuckle (frugal) and a full cup of beef suet (fat). Snapper Soup features veal knuckles, again, with the meat from a snapper turtle (frugal) and a cup of chicken fat. Brown Flour Soup (isn't that name tempting? Blech!) uses soup stock (frugal) and a 1/4 cup of butter plus grated cheese (fat and fat). Dandelion Salad matches dandelion greens (frugal) with 4 thick-cut slices of bacon, 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of cream (fat, fat and more fat). Maybe this explains my observation that older PA Dutch women tend to be twice the width of their husbands. I imagine doing hard physical labor, day in and day out, could burn through that fat pretty quickly. But once the kids are old enough to do most of the physically tough household chores....

Stuffing also seems to be a popular feature in PA Dutch cooking. The PA Dutch Cookbook includes recipes for Stuffed Goose Necks, Stuffed Beef Heart and Stuffed Calf's Liver. Surprisingly, it does not include a recipe for the most popular stuffed animal part of all - Stuffed Pig's Stomach. Yes, restaurants out here in Dutch country actually advertise their stuffed pig's stomach and worse yet, many people order it and eat it, thoughtlessly encouraging the continued presence of this so-called delicacy on many a diner menu.

When it comes to frugal and full of fat, though, nothing can beat today's recipe - it is all fat, plus it's cooked in fat.  It's also decidely a part that someone with a less frugal turn of mind would not consider actual food. I present you with Goose Grieben, one of the very few recipes in which one is called upon to make this vexing decision: do I want to make crispy fat or chewy fat today?


Mmmmmmm.....fat fried in fat!
Fat skin of one goose
1 cup cold water

Cut the fat skin of a goose into 1" to 1 1/2" squares, sprinkle with salt and let stand in cool place 12 hours. Wash well and drain on absorbent paper. Add cold water and simmer for one hour. Drain and fry slowly to prevent scorching. If chewy cracklings are desired, remove them as soon as the fat is clear; if crisp cracklings, leave them in the hot fat until well browned and then place in oven a few minutes. Drain well on absorbent paper. Pour the goose fat into jars [yes, plural] and cover when cooled.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook, Culinary Arts Press, 1977

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