Citizens, there is perhaps no meal more revered and saturated with tradition than the traditional roast goose traditionally served for Christmas dinner in the U.K.!
Yes, I know it is August and over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in most of the U.S. and Christmas seems an eternity away – all the more reason to post this recipe today!
As noted in the Charles Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol”:
Master Peter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.
Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigor; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped.
At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long-expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried, Hurrah!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!
As further expounded on foodreference.com:
For unexplainable reasons, Europeans, particularly north Europeans, have always been fond of goose, whereas in North America the popularity of this fowl is more or less concentrated on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Goose meat is darker (including the breast), fuller bodied, and more intensely flavoured than turkey. It is fatter and more gamy than duck. Of all fowl, goose meat offers the most opportunities to match with wine.
The natural cycle of raising geese is still intact: hatching, between April and July, and slaughter in September.
The U S A is a large producer of geese – California, Pennsylvania, and New York State produce most. Of course France produces a lot, as does Hungary, Poland and Israel, mostly for foie gras d’oie (fattened goose liver).
For centuries goose fat has been hailed as tasty and texturally rich, French are famous for their cassoulet using goose fat, parts beans and vegetable, but most famous of all now is confit of goose or duck.
White English, grey Toulouse and Chinese geese are the most popular with goose farms. Most geese are fed a mixture of corn, wheat and soybeans, although a few farmers feed their animals with vegetables including salads in California.
Citizens, this recipe is a classic for excellent reason – I hope you enjoy the Victorian delights of this magnificent bird!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
9 lb. organic goose
2 tsp coarse sea salt
2 medium onions, peeled
4 large shallots, peeled (TFD change, original used 1 additional onion)
4 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped (Bramleys for Victorian preference, or TFD prefers honeycrisp)
2 tbsp crumbled between the palms dried sage leaves
½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 tbsp cold butter, finely cubed
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
sliced apples, parsley or watercress
FOR THE BROWN GRAVY:
Gizzard, neck, heart, liver and wing tips of the goose, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
2 tablespoons rendered goose fat (preferred) or cooking oil
3 cups stock or beef bouillon
1 tablespoon liquid Kitchen Bouquet (TFD addition, but recommended to help flavor and color the gravy)
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
1 sprig thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
FOR THE OPTIONAL PORT WINE SAUCE:
½ cup ruby port
1 teaspoon mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Prepare the goose by thoroughly rubbing the body cavity with the salt. Leave uncovered in the refrigerator overnight to dry out the skin for ultimate crispiness!
The next day, chop the onion and shallot very finely then combine with the chopped apples, sage, pepper and butter. Use this mixture to stuff both the neck and body cavities of the goose. Sew or skewer the openings close and truss the bird.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The goose is best cooked by placing it on a rack fitted in a deep baking dish, where the juices drip off. Prick the breast of the goose all over with a fork to allow fat to escape, which in turn will also help in crisping the skin as the fat escapes. Sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper over the skin.
Roast the goose at 450 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and turn the goose onto its side. After 1 hour, turn goose onto its other side. For the final 15 minutes, roast goose on its back.
Drain off the dripping fat from the roasting tin at least twice during the cooking, and use these drippings to baste the goose as it cooks. This prevents extra dryness of the breast while the rest of the goose cooks. Save the fat for the future, it makes the best roast potatoes on earth!
Baste the goose every 20 minutes during entire roasting time. (Allow approximately 15 minutes per pound for the total weight of the stuffed goose, or 2 ½ hours for a 9 pound stuffed goose. The legs should move up and down freely, and the juices should run a pale yellow – do NOT overcook!
Prepare the gravy while goose is roasting. In a large saucepan, brown the goose parts, onion and carrot in the fat. When they are nicely browned, add the stock and seasonings. Simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour, skimming occasionally. Strain, degrease and pour into a warmed sauce-boat for serving.
For the optional port wine sauce, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan. Just before serving the goose, slit open the breast and pour the sauce on top.
Serve with potatoes roasted In goose fat with herbs, garlic, salt and pepper and all the garnishes and appropriate trimmings.