There was no question I was ever going to cook a turkey for Christmas after I’d visited Judy Goodman’s Walsgrove farm in Worcester. Goose is Britain’s only seasonally reared bird, and Judy and her family produce the finest geese in the country. You know how keen I am on seasonal food, and it seems mad not to jump at the chance to eat goose while you can.
When my daughters Ellie and Lydia and I arrived at the farm after a long trek all the way across the country from Dorset, Judy, as promised, had a fantastic lunch waiting on the kitchen table. There was cold sliced goose, apple sauce and local organic greens.
That was it. My mind was made up that goose would be my bird for the 25th. Judy’s free range flock must be some of the most pampered birds in the land. They roam around feeding on wheat, barley, maize and grass.wholesale jerseys You order your bird and it arrives by post in a box, dressed, with the liver, giblets and neck in separate boxes, along with some extra fat for roasting your potatoes.
Don’t be put off by the fat. Duck and geese have a layer of it, but properly cooked, a good quality bird won’t be greasy when it’s cooked as the fat will run off, simply leaving crisp delicious skin behind. The fat also makes the best, crispy roast potatoes you’ll ever eat, so save it for future roastings.
For the Christmas Day starter, I may well go for some wild artisan smoked salmon from Ireland with soda bread and pickled rock samphire. I foraged the samphire from the beach on a visit to Ireland in the summer. Frank Hederman smokes eels and mussels as well as wild salmon over beechwood at his Belvelly smokehouse. f Then to keep the visiting pescatorian happy while we tuck into the goose, I’ll do a whole baked sea bass. To make it special I’ll give it a luxurious lift with some lobster or prawns in the stuffing, or maybe an oyster or two chopped up with a milder version of the goose stuffing.
Pudding is also a refreshing alternative: a sort of exotic fruit salad with Christmassy spices, true to the spirit of the season but not too tied to tradition.
Goodman’s Geese (and bronze turkeys) 01299 896272/
Seldom Seen Farm 0116 2596742/A goose weighing about 4 5kg should be enough for 5 6 people
If they’ll fit in your oven I would suggest getting a couple of birds for more than 8 10 people. The secret of rendering down the fat is to begin the cooking process with the breasts facing down in the pan so that the skin fries in the hot fat released from under the skin. The mistake people make is to just bung the goose in the oven for hours on end hoping for the best. That’s how you end up with a dry fatty bird.
Judy Goodman recommends removing and seasoning the legs, smearing a bit of goose fat over them, covering them in foil and roasting them ahead of the carcass. Then roast the bird on its back for an hour; turn it over on to the breast to finish the crisping process for another 45 minutes or so. Then put it breast up again for the final 15 20 minutes.
I’ve tried lots of different ways of roasting a goose over the years and found that unlike a duck, the legs need more time to cook. By roasting the bird this way, the breasts get cooked to medium while the legs are slow cooked and crispy, almost like confit legs. This process will also render enough fat from the goose to get your roast spuds going.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
To make the stuffing, gently cook the onions and sage in the butter for 2 3 minutes without colouring, then remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Meanwhile season and fry the goose livers in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes on each side, remove from the heat and leave to cool a little. Chop the livers into rough smallish pieces and mix into the breadcrumbs with the parsley and season to taste.
The legs can be cooked hours before you’re eating and reheated nearer the time. Pre heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Remove the legs from the goose by pulling them away from the bone and cutting at the joint. Remove any fat and skin from underneath the goose on the backbone and put it in a tight fitting oven tray either on top of or to the side of the legs. The fat will render down. Season the legs and cook for 21/2 hours, basting every so often. Drain off the fat and use for roasting the potatoes. Put the legs aside ready to heat up 15 minutes before you serve the goose.
For the goose itself turn the oven up to 200C/gas mark 6. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the bird and season the breast, spoon over a little of the fat that the legs have been cooking in and put the bird breast down in a roasting tray.http://www.cheapjerseysfreeshipping.cc Cook for 45 minutes, draining any excess fat from the tray during cooking (add this to the fat from the legs for your potatoes) then turn the bird back up on to its back and cook for a further 20 minutes.
In a separate tray, roast the potatoes, topping up with goose fat as needed. You can give them a final blast when you’ve taken the goose out of the oven and it’s resting for 15 minutes. Put the legs back in the oven to heat up now, too. Then remove the breasts from the bone with a sharp knife and slice thinly across the breasts with the skin down on the board. The leg meat can just be carved off the bone, or cut into chunks.
Meanwhile (or even the day before), put the apples into a pan with the sugar and butter, cover with lid and cook gently, stirring every so often for 15 20 minutes until the apples start to disintegrate. You can keep the sauce chunky and natural, or blend it in a food processor. Check the sweetness and add more sugar if necessary, although it shouldn’t be too sweet to accompany goose.
It’s always a good idea to get ahead by having gravy, or at least the basis for it, already made. Beats scrabbling around after the meat’s cooked and leaving it to wait for the liquid in the roasting tin to take on some flavour. Try to keep a good supply of gravy in the freezer for roasts and quick sauces.
With goose, or any poultry come to that, you’ll never have enough giblets and neck to flavour your gravy, so bring in reinforcements. I’d strongly recommend getting in some extra chicken wings, necks and bones to make the gravy up a couple days before. This recipe should make enough for Christmas Day, so scale up the quantities accordingly for large batches to store in the freezer.