In my search for interesting and funky fruit, sometimes I forget about the things I’ve known about all along. Even if you don’t pick wild berries, you probably know the black cap.
They’re easy to find, and most people don’t need a field guide to know what a raspberry looks like. That being said, there’s a lot of competition in the Twin Cities where I live for these, Hmong families will pick them en-masse most of the time, which is better than them going to waste, although I don’t get as many trail snacks.
Other than the tried and true jam and having a handful of blackcaps on some ice cream, I like to use them to make sauces for game, duck and other poultry being my favorite.
It’s really easy, and the method here made with fresh berries could easily be changed to use a jam or preserve you’ve made, all you do is add some to good, homemade meat stock with a little sugar and vinegar, reduce it for a while, strain, then continue cooking until it’s thick and mount with a little butter to thicken it.
The last way I had it at home was with a nice leg of goose confit. Confit, or marinating and then cooking slowly in fat is my go-to method for using game bird and other poultry legs that have a lot of tendons, like pheasant, duck and goose, since they have a much longer cooking time than the breasts.
Here’s a master recipe for confit legs, along with a simple recipe for a sauce made with fresh blackcap berries.
Goose Confit with Blackcap Raspberries
I had this with some soft polenta and braised baby napa cabbage, it would be great with just some buttered wild rice too though.
- 1 recipe blackcap raspberry sauce (follows)
- 1 recipe goose confit (follows)
- 1 tablespoon duck fat or lard
- Fresh raspberries, to garnish
Heat an oven to 300 degrees. In a large saute pan, heat the duck fat or lard, then add the goose legs, skin side down, and place in the oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes. (You only want to cook the confit on the skin side, don’t cook the flesh or it will toughen.) Remove the pan from the heat oven and put it back on the burner to make sure the skin is crisp and browned, then remove to a plate and serve with the sauce, and garnish with the fresh berries.
Blackcap Raspberry Sauce
I don’t like my sauces overly sweet, but if you taste it and think it’s lacking for you, add a little more sugar.
- 1 qt goose or other poultry stock, preferably homemade
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cups black raspberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Heat all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan on medium heat for 30 minutes, or until reduced by half. Pass the sauce and all the berries through a chinois or fine strainer, then return to the pot and keep warm, or refrigerate or freeze until needed. You should end up with about 1 cup of sauce.
- To serve, continue reducing a bit on medium heat, then whisk in the cold butter, and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and glossy. double check the seasoning for salt and sugar, adjust as needed, then serve immediately.
A simple confit recipe, you could also use it for other things of similar size, like ducks, turkey, chicken, etc.
- 4 goose legs
- 1 qt rendered duck fat, or another animal lard, melted
- 4-6 small bay leaves
- 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Handful of unpeeled garlic cloves
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Make a circular cut on each leg where the bone meats the thigh. Scrape away the tendons and skin to remove the bone underneath.
- Season the trimmed goose legs liberally with salt and pepper. Squeeze the thyme and bay lightly in your hand or bruise with the back of a knife, then massage with the confit and put in a dish, like a casserole.
- Whack the garlic cloves with a back of a knife and add them to the goose legs and mix.
- Lay the goose legs out in the dish so they aren’t overlapping, then refrigerate uncovered overnight to tighten the skin.
- The next day, put the pan with the goose legs in another, wider pan to catch any possible fat that could spill out, then cover the goose legs with melted lard and cook in the oven, covered with foil or parchment at 250 for 1.5 hours or until tender. Remove the goose legs and cool.
- Allow the goose legs to wait for at least a few days before using. The goose legs will keep for months as long as they’re completely covered with fat, but they never seem to last that long.