WHEN THE RUSSIANS invaded Czechoslovakia in 1969, Sid and Marie Krampera and their two sons thought their goose was cooked. They fled the country and arrived safely in Austria. Shortly thereafter they emigrated to America with their two possessions: a glorious recipe for goose with red cabbage and bread dumplings, and their dream to someday serve the dish in their own restaurant.
MARIE KRAMPERA'S HOLIDAY GOOSE AND TRIMMINGS (4 to 6 servings)
Goose: 7- to 8-pound goose Salt Caraway seeds 5 small apples (any kind) Onion skins
Red cabbage: Butter for sauteing 1 large onion 1 head red cabbage 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons caraway seeds 1/3 cup white vinegar 1 tablespoon flour
Bread dumplings: 1 french roll Butter 5 cups self-rising flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 10 ounces club soda
To prepare the goose, break off the outer 2/3 of the wings, leaving the first third of each wing connected to the body of the goose. Cut away the excess fat. Sprinkle the cavity, top, sides and bottom of the bird with salt and caraway seeds. Fill the cavity with apples and securely close the opening.
"The whole secret to Czechoslovakian goose is the caraway seeds," Marie Krampera confides. "That, and a couple of other things, that is. You must build a base in the roasting pan for the goose to sit upon. The base is constructed of the giblets, wings, neck, and . . . and this is the second-most important secret: You place lots of onion skins on top of everything else. They give it such a good flavor as their essence goes up through the goose. Pour a little water in the roasting pan and place the goose atop the base."
Put the goose in a preheated 500-degree oven for 45 minutes (to sear and tighten the skin). Remove and pour off the grease, reserving it for future cooking. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for a total of "at least" 3 hours.
To prepare the red cabbage, peel and saute' the onion in butter. Set aside. Chop the cabbage and place it in a large pot with a little water, the salt, sugar, caraway seeds and vinegar, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion (had it been added at the start it would have absorbed the pungency of cabbage and spoiled the dish). Turn up the heat, sprinkle in the tablespoon of flour, and cook for 5 minutes from the start of the boil.
The red cabbage can be prepared a few hours before dinner. Just heat before serving.
"The cabbage should be at a balance of sweet and sour," Krampera adds, "and it should be crunchy in texture, never overcooked. Whenever you add flour, you must cook the dish for at least 5 minutes, just like you do a roux. But the beauty is that the flour will mask, say, too much salt or other small mistakes."
To prepare the bread dumplings, coarsely chop the french roll. Lightly butter the pieces and toast them in a hot oven until dry. Place half of the flour in a mixing bowl (or in a heavy-duty electric mixer or food processor). Add the salt, eggs and a little club soda and begin mixing. Continue mixing and add the remaining flour and club soda until you have a dough firm enough to shape. Hand-knead the toasted bread pieces into the dough.
The dough can be prepared hours or, with freezing, even days beforehand. If it is prepared on the same day, simply cover it with a damp cloth. If the dough has been frozen, remove it the day before cooking and place it in the refrigerator. On the morning of cooking, place it on the counter and cover with a damp towel.
About 25 minutes before the meal is to be served, place the red cabbage on warming heat. Then, roll the dumpling dough into two large (12-inch) submarine-shaped loaves. Drop them into lightly salted, boiling water and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, turning often. After about 12 minutes, begin checking the consistency with a toothpick. When nothing sticks to the toothpick, remove and impale each dumpling 6 times with a toothpick to let out the air. Slice the dumplings diagonally and arrange a dozen or so slices on a serving platter with the goose and red cabbage and serve immediately.