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Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger

by Florian
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Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger

When I concluded my Moscow Rules series with a post on the Russian gastrocafé, I mentioned the goose burger at Pirogi Vino i Gus, and lamented that it was prepared with typical burger toppings rather than classic goose pairings. The point of eating a goose patty with avocado and mozzarella (in Russia, of all places) was more than slightly lost on me. So I decided to take the matter in my own hands.

What do chefs usually serve with goose? Prunes, cherries, various other berries, apples, mushrooms, beans, root vegetables… Obviously I’m not packing all those ingredients into one sandwich, but I’ll be hitting a couple of them. So let’s go through the various elements of my goose burger:

  • First, the patty. Ground goose meat may not be too flavorful on its own, but combine it with ground skin, and the goose taste is unmistakable. I adjusted the proportions to get roughly the same amount of fat as in your typical beef burger.
  • And what better way to emphasize the goose flavor than to add goose liver? My goose liver mousse, a slight adaptation of my chicken liver moose, is a bit like foie gras, but more spreadable and not as subtle.
  • When I started working on this recipe, morel season was just beginning, and I couldn’t resist! Tossed in a cremini cream sauce, the morels bring a double dose of the obligatory mushroom topping on any self-respecting burger.
  • And now we need some crunch. The usual tomato and lettuce seem like a poor match, but onion rings go well with the morels and liver. With hard apple cider in the batter, we can even add a check mark for another classic goose pairing. I adapted Kenji Lopez-Alt’s onion ring recipe, which can be found here.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - Onion Rings
  • Last but not least, a homemade bun. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s pretty damn hard to make a great burger bun at home. In fact, I would argue that bread baking books should dedicate a whole section to the subject, rather than include one or two roll recipes that supposedly work great for burgers but in practice don’t. A burger bun is not a bread roll; it must be soft, and extremely light and airy. At the same time, it has to be able to absorb its share of meat juices without disintegrating (a requirement seemingly at odds with the desired airiness), as I want to eat my burger with my hands, not with silverware, and without entirely losing my dignity. And a burger bun should not be a brioche, either: its French name makes it the darling of uninspired bistros, but brioche is too rich and tends to mask the flavors of the burger. As I said, I’ve seen several burger bun recipes that completely miss the mark, but the turning point came when I found the very useful tips in this article.
  • To go with this burger, I already have Heston Blumenthal’s perfect fries (which I’ve posted about several times over the years, the latest being here). But this also gives me a chance to introduce one last goose pairing: prune ketchup. My recipe is adapted from this one.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - French Fries

Now, for the hard-to-find ingredients:

  • Birch syrup can be purchased here – I recommend getting the first run syrup. Beware of brands that sell a blend of birch with some other syrup!
  • Schiltz Foods is one of the rare places that sells not just whole geese, but also goose breasts and goose livers.
  • Earthy Delights carries fantastic morels, when in season. Hurry up and you might catch the end of this year’s supply!
  • Morel powder is available from some gourmet grocery stores, but there’s also a very simple way to make it: buy dried morels and pulverize them in a blender.

This ends up being a pretty involved burger, pretty much the opposite of the “fast food” with which the burger is normally associated. Not surprisingly, though, I would claim it’s worth the effort: everything in it is simply delicious. And I’ve realized, just look at the lineup of chefs I’ve adapted recipes from: the Chef Steps crew (liver mousse), Kenji Lopez-Alt (onion rings), Heston Blumenthal (perfect fries), Grant Achatz (prune ketchup).

Any one of the elements in this recipe is worth adding to a quicker burger made with store-bought ingredients, so you don’t have to prepare all of these things. Should you decide to make the whole shebang, you can pace yourself over a couple of days or even a week – whenever possible, my recipe mentions how long each element can be kept.

Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger

Goose liver mousse
Yields about 4 servings (2 small jars)

60 g peeled shallots, small dice
25 g rendered goose (or duck) fat
12 g birch syrup
20 g cognac
120 g goose livers
40 g egg
3 g salt
0.5 g pink salt
0.1 g ground black pepper
0.4 g vanilla extract
50 g butter, melted

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the shallots in the goose fat until soft. Add the birch syrup and cognac, bring to a boil, and cook for about one minute, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, cover, and let rest for about 10 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  • Strain the reduction through a chinois. Using a spatula, press down to extract as much liquid as possible. You should end up with 35-40 g of liquid.
  • In a blender, combine the liquid with the goose livers, egg, salt, pink salt, black pepper, and vanilla extract. Blend on medium-high speed until just smooth. Then, while blending on low speed, slowly add the butter.
  • Pass the mixture through a chinois, and transfer to two sterilized 4 fl. oz (about 120 ml) Mason jars. At this point, it will look quite liquid for a mousse, but don’t worry about it.
  • Tightly close the lids, place the jars in a 68° C / 154° F water bath, and cook for 90 minutes.
  • Transfer to an ice bath, chill completely, then refrigerate. The mousse can be kept for a week.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - Goose Liver Mousse

Prune ketchup
Yields 4 servings

2 cloves
1/2 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
1 cardamom pod
80 g pitted prunes, halved
2 (about 8 g) olive oil-cured anchovy fillets
5 g peeled garlic, sliced
20 g peeled shallots, sliced
150 g water
10 g sherry vinegar
25 g sugar
2 g salt

  • Place the cloves, bay leaf, peppercorns, and cardamom pod into a piece of cheesecloth, and tie with butcher’s twine to make a sachet.
  • Place the sachet, prunes, anchovy fillets, garlic, shallots, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer over moderate heat for about 20 minutes, until the prunes are very soft.
  • Discarding the sachet of spices, purée the ketchup mixture in a blender. (At this point, it will smell and taste pretty strong, but it will be much milder when cold.) Transfer to a plastic container, let cool and refrigerate. The prune ketchup can be kept for a week.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - Prune Ketchup

Morel sauce
Yields 4 servings

100 g fresh morels
15 g butter
20 g shallots, small dice
50 g cremini mushrooms, small dice
salt
black pepper, ground
25 g hard cider
50 g chicken stock
40 g heavy cream
2 g sugar
4 g morel powder
5 g Worcestershire sauce

  • Rinse the fresh morels under warm water, and drain on paper towels. If some of them are over 3 cm long, cut in half lengthwise. Reserve.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the shallots and cremini mushrooms until soft, stirring regularly. Add the hard cider, simmer for a minute, then add the chicken stock. Reduce by half, still over medium heat.
  • Transfer to a blender. Add the cream, sugar, morel powder, and Worcestershire sauce, then purée until smooth.
  • Return the mixture to the saucepan. Add the fresh morels, cover with a lid, and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Reserve. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - Morel Sauce

Burger buns
Yields 4 buns

175 g bread flour
3 g salt
85 g water
25 g whole milk, warm
3 g active dry yeast
7.5 g granulated sugar
55 g egg, beaten
20 g unsalted butter, softened
canola oil spray
egg wash (made with one egg yolk and an equal amount of milk)

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, salt, and water for about 1 minute on medium speed. Knead by hand to form a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Combine the milk, yeast, and sugar in a small container, and let stand 5 minutes until foamy.
  • Add the milk mixture to the dough, and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until combined. With the mixer still running, add the egg in two additions, waiting for it to become fully incorporated between each addition. Add the butter, and keep mixing until mostly homogeneous. Don’t worry if there are some lumps, we’re gonna beat the hell of this dough!
  • Continue to mix on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes, then scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula. Mix the dough on medium-low for another 15 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1 ½ hours at room temperature, until doubled in volume.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into four equal pieces of approximately 80 g each.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - Hamburger Buns
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange four 10 cm diameter ring molds on top. Spray the parchment paper and the inner surfaces of the ring molds with canola oil. If you’re committed to making your own buns, you can also invest in a burger bun pan like this one.
  • Form each piece of dough into a ball, and place inside a ring mold. Cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with oil (on the bottom side, obviously), then allow to rise at room temperature for about an hour, until doubled in volume.
  • Place a dish of water on the bottom rack of the oven, and heat to 200° C / 400° F.
  • Remove the plastic wrap, and bake the buns for 7 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.
  • Take the buns out of the oven, and brush generously with the egg wash. Return to the oven, and bake 12-15 minutes longer, until golden brown, rotating the sheet front to back halfway through.
  • Transfer the buns to a rack and allow to cool completely. The buns can be kept wrapped in plastic for a day or two.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger - Hamburger Buns

Goose patties
Yields 4 patties (about 140 g each)

100 g goose skin
500 g boneless goose breast

  • Cut the goose skin and goose breast into large dice.
  • Pass the skin through the large die of a meat grinder. Mix with the meat, then grind again together, still using the large die. Refrigerate for one hour.
  • Shape the meat into four patties of about 140 g each, at 11 cm diameter. Reserve. The patties can be wrapped in plastic and kept for a couple days in the refrigerator.

Perfect fries
Yields about 4 servings

kosher salt
1200 g peeled Idaho potatoes
canola oil (for deep-frying)

  • Fill a pot large enough to contain the potatoes with water mixed with 1% salt, and bring to a boil. 
  • Cut the potatoes into 1.5-1.75 cm thick batons. Add to the pot, return to a simmer, and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are just starting to break when you pick them out (you should start watching for this after about 15 minutes of simmering). Using a skimmer, transfer the potatoes to a cooling rack, let cool, then refrigerate until cold.
  • Fill a deep-fryer with the canola oil, and bring to 250 F. Don’t overfill; the potatoes tend to release a lot of water, which increases the liquid-level in the fryer. Proceeding in batches if necessary, deep-fry the potatoes until they look dry and slightly colored, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and discard (or eat!) the small broken potato pieces — there will be some, inevitably. Let cool, then refrigerate until cold.
  • Before serving, bring the deep-fryer to 375 ° F, then deep-fry the fries again until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towels.

Onion rings
Yields 4 servings

about 100 g peeled onion, not halved (see below)
canola oil (for deep frying)
40 g AP flour
20 g cornstarch
2 g baking powder
0.5 g baking soda
1 g paprika
60 g hard cider, cold
20 g vodka, cold
salt

  • Cut the onion into 0.8 cm thick rounds, and separate into individual rings – you want to have four large rings, and four smaller ones. Place into a zipper-lock freezer bag, and put in the freezer until completely frozen, at least 1 hour.
  • Remove the onion rings from the freezer bag, and thaw in a bowl filled with warm water. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and dry thoroughly. Peel off the inner papery membrane from each ring and discard. The rings will be very floppy. Reserve.
  • Preheat the oil to 190° C / 375° F in a deep-fryer (you can use the same oil for the fries and the onion rings).
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and paprika. Combine the cider and vodka in a separate container, and slowly add to the flour mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Shortly before serving, dredge the onion rings in the batter. Making sure that all surfaces are coated, lift the rings out one at a time, letting the excess batter drip off, and carefully add to the deep-fryer. Fry until deep golden brown, flipping over halfway through cooking.
  • Transfer the fried rings to a bowl lined with paper towels, and season with salt.

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

goose patties
salt
10 g canola oil
black pepper, ground
burger buns
morel sauce
onion rings
perfect fries
goose liver mousse
prune ketchup

  • Season the goose patties with salt on both sides. Heat the oil in a pan (or two pans) over very heat. Add the patties, and sear until dark brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate, and let rest for a few minutes.
  • Reheat the pan over high heat, return the patties to the pan, and cook to your preferred doneness (I recommend cooking them rare, to an internal temperature of 49° C / 120° F), flipping them several times. Season with black pepper, and reserve.
  • Place a dish of water on the bottom rack of the oven, and heat to 200° C / 400° F.
  • Slice open each bun to have about 2/3 at the bottom and only 1/3 at the top (the thicker bottom helps to absorb the meat juices). Place the open buns on a baking sheet, and reheat on the middle rack of the oven until hot.
  • Reheat the morel sauce (you can use a microwave).
  • Finish deep-frying the onion rings and fries, if needed.
  • For each burger, spread some morel sauce on the bottom part of the bun, and a generous amount of goose liver mousse on the top part. Then place a goose patty and two onion rings (one small and one large). Serve with the fries and prune ketchup.
Russian Gastrocafé Goose Burger

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1 comment

cook4chefs August 26, 2019 - 01:18

Amazing job you did here chef. Salutations

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