Growing up in a traditional, but not strictly orthodox home, we maintained a dual dietary practice – strictly kosher at home; rather less so outside of it. Thus it was that my first Big Mac (accompanied naturally by a dairy milk shake) was consumed well before the golden arches arrived in the holy land. Until I started keeping strictly kosher in my late teens, I sampled many non-kosher establishments (my main regret with hindsight is that they were mainly of the fast food variety) but throughout that entire time I never (knowingly) consumed any pork products and the closest I ever got to sea food was prawn cocktail flavoured crisps.
Given the choice between any TV program not involving grown men chasing a ball around a field, I will almost always opt for something involving food. I typically having some cooking show or another on in the background when I’m at home in the evening, usually via youtube. Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal’s shows are particular favourites at the moment and they serve to inspire my cooking. Given that they are strictly non-kosher in their content, it’s quite clear that a lot of their recipes are not even close to possible unless pork can be substituted for another meat. One ingredient that comes up, time and time again however and which would be the first thing on the menu if I were given a pass on the kashrut laws for 24 hours is bacon.
The closest that I’ve got to eating bona fide bacon was a great dish involving lamb bacon at a restaurant called Moise in Jerusalem which, given it’s absence from eluna.com and a Facebook page which hasn’t been updated since 2012 I believe to be closed (although I’d be delighted to be told differently). To my knowledge there isn’t a commercially available kosher substitute in Israel so I trawled around a bit for suggestions and the one thing that kept on coming up was smoked goose breast.
Most decent deli counters carry it and although it’s not cheap, what I had in mind didn’t need a large amount so I picked up 200 grams in one thick slice (it needs to be fairly thick). My intention was to use it as a base, rendering the smoky – fattiness in the pan and using the flavours to give my dish some depth whilst leaving little nuggets of the flesh as little treasures to be picked out and enjoyed.
I figured that mushrooms would do an excellent job of soaking up the smoky flavours and so bought a punnet of baby portobellos to be chopped into rustic sized pieces and added to the skillet together with roughly diced onions. I grabbed chicken legs and decided to use up half a bottle of red wine which was sitting in the fridge. Lastly I wanted something green to add in towards the end of cooking time and opted for beet leaves (Alei Mangold in Hebrew) as this was what was available and looking good at the local supermarket.
I have no way of knowing how the tasty end result compares to the real deal and my wife comes from a strictly kosher background and can shed no light. It was certainly a delicious meal however and I still have half of the goose breast left over so I’ll see about finding a different recipe to use it in. Worth the extra expense? It cost very little and as an addition it was okay – but not earth shaking and the recipe would be delicious without it too. I will definitely however, make this or something similar again when we have some non-kosher observant friends drop by to see what they make of it.
100 grams of thickly sliced smoked goose breast, fat on, diced into 1/2 centimeter cubes
1 medium onion roughly chopped
1 punnet of mushrooms roughly sliced (a mix of different mushrooms would be excellent)
1/3 bottle of red wine (stock would be fine)
2 chicken legs, divided into leg and thigh
1 package of beet leaves, tough stalks removed, roughly chopped (spinach is also fine)
Heat your oven to 200c
Heat a frying pan until very hot (I used my wonderfully versatile $12 cast iron skillet)
Throw in goose breast, fat side down and allow the fat to render into the pan
Add onions and fry, stirring, for 3 minutes
Add mushrooms and continue to stir for a further 5 minutes
Remove veggies from the pan and add the chicken, skin side down for 3 minutes – you want the skin to be a golden brown colour. Flip and leave for another 3 minutes
Return your goose breast / onion / mushroom mix to the pan, add the wine and season liberally with freshly cracked black pepper
Once your wine is bubbling, transfer to the oven for approximately 20 minutes
Remove from the oven, transfer the chicken to plates and add the greens to the vegetable / wine mixture. Stir – the leaves should wilt in the latent heat but will retain their strong green colour. Add the mixture to your plates.
Serve with more wine.