Of Geese, Ducks and Ham

Written by Sebastian Junge; Translation by H. Runte

What the month of November also brings to our kitchen is so-called waterfowl, or in other words, duck, geese, and other aquatic birds or winged game. …

Autumn has unmistakably reached Hamburg since my last entry. The last warm days are over. It rains a lot, and it gets dark very early. We live in a perpetual gray haze. Temperatures are falling and the last late summer vegetables from our producers are coming in. We have finally harvested all the vegetables from our own fields as well. It was a great year that produced an excellent harvest and provided us with wonderful new impressions and experiences. Now, it is time to begin pickling and processing all the vegetables we have harvested ourselves or have received from our producers.

What the month of November also brings to our kitchen is so-called waterfowl, or in other words, duck, geese, and other aquatic birds or winged game. Maurice Blank, a longtime companion from Lemsahl-Mellingstedt, a neighborhood in the north-east of Hamburg, has been raising small groups of ducks and geese for us for a long time.

Maurice serves a few private customers and otherwise only our restaurant, and we feel incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy the fruits of his work at the end of the years.

We process waterfowl in as many different way as we do domestic pigs. We make rillette and paté, both braised and pan-fried. We make pastrami. And best of all, we can make our very own cold-smoked ham again. This is only possible in the really cold months. The temperature has to fall below 10 degrees at night so that we can cold smoke the salted pieces of meat over a longer period of time. We can typically do this starting in November, and we truly celebrated this.

The knowledge and craft we use to create our cold-smoked ham has been
fascinating fellow chefs and guests for a while now. Smoked products have been an integral part of our menus and cuisine from the very beginning.

We use ancient preservation methods that help create a feeling of well-being and bring back great memories for many people, including me. Our hams represent the type of cuisine we stand for. They are unique and can only be enjoyed here, at Wolfs Junge, and they unmistakably bear our signature. In the spring, for example, when we will cut open our ham from our domestic pigs after 4 months of ripening and smoking, just in time for the first asparagus, I am always filled with great pride in what we do. The knowledge that this ham can only be enjoyed here, in combination with other unique products, is a superb feeling.

Tomorrow, I will try our first goose ham. After 4 weeks of preparation, it is now ready. Its taste will transport me and my taste buds full into the autumn spirit.

Written by Sebastian Junge; Translation by H. Runte

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