Friday, November 10, 2023

Treats for Martinmas

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day,” 1565-68

The feast of St Martin of Tours is soon upon us (November 11), but how shall we celebrate it? Shawn Tribe has offered a helpful overview of Martinmas customs on this website. Today, we offer three more.

According to legend, when the townspeople of Tours tried to trick Martin (who was a monk) into becoming their bishop, the holy man hid from them but was betrayed by a flock of honking geese. Thanks to local traditions, the Saint has been exacting his revenge on the feathered traitors ever since. In Germanic countries, the Martinmas goose is eaten with sauerkraut, and in Sweden the bird is stuffed with apples and prunes for flavoring (which are discarded before serving); the finished goose is accompanied with cinnamon apples.
According to an old English proverb, you must ask Saint Martin to dine with you when have goose or you will not get a goose the next year. And to ask Saint Martin to dine is “to share your goose with someone who has none, as Martin did his cloak.” The proverb takes its inspiration from the most famous scene associated with the Saint. Martin was a Roman soldier and only a catechumen when he saw a poor beggar shivering in the cold and divided his military cloak, giving him half (the Roman army made you pay for half of your uniform, so Martin gave the half that he had paid for). That night Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream with the half-cloak and said, “Martin the catechumen hath clothed Me.”
Roast goose is a rare red meat bird, which means you can safely eat the breast meat when it’s slightly pink and medium rare. Our recipe in Dining with the Saints brings out the flavors of the goose and pairs naturally with roasted apples and cabbage.
Roast Goose (Martinsgans) with Roasted Apples and Cabbage
Serves 6-8 people
Cooking Time: 2 hours

The Goose
8 lb. goose
1 Tbsp. salt
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
2 tsps. marjoram, dried or if fresh, minced
2 apples, core removed and cut into wedges
1 cup of water
1 Tbsp. butter, soft at room temperature
2 tsps. all purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Salt cavity and the skin of goose.
3. Rub cavity with marjoram.
4. Stuff cavity with apples and truss the goose bird.
5. Cover bottom of roasting pan with warm water.
6. Place goose on a roasting rack, breast side up. Prick the entire goose with a fork to allow juices to run out.
7. Cook for 3 hours, or until internal temperature reads to 140 for medium rare goose, 165 for more well done.
8. Throughout the cooking process, baste the goose with some of the natural juices combined with warm water, until the end of the cooking process when the goose will develop crispy skin.
9. When the goose is cooked, remove the roasting rack and set aside and allow the duck to rest 10 minutes before carving.
10. Turn the pan juices into a gravy by skimming the fat off the juices. Put the goose juice into a sauce pan and cook for 10- 15 minutes over low heat.
11. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and flour together and add to the pan juices, whisking together to avoid lumps.

The Roasted Cabbage
½ head of green cabbage, shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsps. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsps. mustard
¼ cup beer
1 tsp. salt
2 tsps. sugar
1 tsp. black pepper
½ cup of light beer

1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and butter,.
2. When butter is melted, add the garlic and cabbage and cook until it starts to wilt and brown.
3. Add the red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and beer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Serves hot or cooled at room temperature.
But if goose is not your thing, turn to some kind of pork. In the Middle Ages, it was customary to slaughter swine on or before Martinmas in preparation for winter. The custom led to several proverbs. In Spain, when predicting that someone would get his comeuppance or meet his Maker, folks would say A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín (“Every pig has its St. Martin’s Day”); in England, the equivalent adage was “His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog.” In the Rhineland, roasted suckling pig is the main course of choice; in the Swiss canton of Jura, the Repas du Saint Martin includes everything but the oink of the recently butchered pigs. We leave it to you to come up with new porcine ways to observe Martinmas.
Liquid Refreshment
No one is certain when or where the martini was invented: some say it was named after Martini and Rossi vermouth, while others point either to a bartender in San Francisco or to the town of Martinez, California. Whatever its origins, there would be no “Martini” or “Martinez” had there been no saint called Martin to make the name popular in Christian lands. And so we rightly claim the king of cocktails in honor of the great saint of Tours—who, incidentally, is the patron saint of “penitent drunkards” (apparently, impenitent drunkards must find another celestial sponsor). Our Martlemas Martini, which first appeared in Drinking with the Saints, is made with Grey Goose vodka in a nod to the legend about the geese. The lemon twist, on the other hand, represents Martin’s torn cloak.
Martlemas Martini
2 oz. Grey Goose vodka
1 dash dry vermouth
1 lemon twist
Pour vodka and vermouth into a mixing glass with ice and stir forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass. Express lemon oil into the glass by wringing the lemon twist and then use the twist as garnish.

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