In medieval England just as in much of Europe, roast goose was a traditional food not just for Christmas, but for celebrations of all kind - until the turkey arrived from the New World and took over. Even now, roast goose is still the most common Christmas dinner in Germany, and I grew up loving the rich and moist and flavoursome taste.
When I first came to England, goose was rather uncommon, but it's great to see that this wonderful bird is now more widely available and is making a comeback on the Christmas dinner table. I definitely prefer it to turkey, which I find too dry and bland a meat to get excited about.
Choosing a Christmas goose has other advantages too:
A good-sized goose will feed 6 people, maybe eight, but there won't be much left over. And because of its richness, ending up with dried out meat when cooking a goose really takes some doing. Roasting goose also produces a versatile and extremely tasty by-product: goose fat. Try roasting potatoes (or onions!) in the rich goo and you'll know why I rave about the wonderful taste.
And while Christmas Day is the big reveal for the roast goose, the giblets used to grace our Christmas Eve lunch. They make the most wonderful base for noodle soup. And goose liver, of course, is well known to anyone who loves pate.
Baked apples would have been offered alongside the roast goose in many a traditional roast goose recipe, but stuffing a goose with apples, breadcrumbs and oranges, and serving it with red cabbage and pineapple also makes for a very fine dinner. Don't you agree?
This roast goose recipe should feed 6-8 people and you need:
So, let's get underway with our roast goose recipe. First, you'll need to prepare your stuffing and you start with the apples.
Core and peel the Bramleys and cut them into smallish pieces. Then cook them in a little water until they're a rough puree. Over low heat, so the apples don't burn, this will take about 10-15 mintues.
In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the grated rind from the two oranges. Then peel the oranges, chop the flesh and add to the breadcrumbs and rind. Add the apples and chopped onions.Mix together carefully, then add the herbs and season generously
A goose has a generous layer of fat, not all of which you want to eat as part of your roast. So here is what my mum used to do to make sure the goose was not too rich, and we had lots fo wonderful goosefat for cooking with during the following weeks:
Put the goose on a trivet in the sink and boil a large kettle of water. Then slowly pour the water all over the goose. Turn the goose, so all parts of it get sluiced down by boiling water, as this loosens the fat the goose has just under the skin.
Remove the goose from the sink and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Then let it dry out for an hour or so in the fridge.
While the goose is in the oven, it will release a lot of fat. It's important to keep the goose separate from the fat so a roasting pan with a rack is essential. This allows the goose to sit above the pan while it cooks, while the goose fat accumulates in the bottom of the pan.
This is where many roast goose recipes begin to differ. Some suggest you just add lemon slices or apple quarters to the body of the goose, while others add stuffing. Here we'll go with the stuffing we prepared earlier:
Stuff the goose loosely with the apple and orange mix you prepared earlier and use the remaining slice of bread to cover the opening.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 and when you're ready, place the goose on a rack above your roasting tin. Don't roast directly in the tin - you want somewhere to collect all the wonderful fat your goose releases while cooking!
Cook for 15-18mins per 450g / 1lb. The skin of the goose will be a dark golden brown when it's cooked and when you insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg the juice running out will be clear.
Remove the goose carefully from the oven. THE FAT WILL BE VERY VERY HOT! Place the goose on a warm plate to rest and pour the fat into sealable jars to cool before storing.
My favourite roast goose recipe matches the goose with mashed potatoes, red cabbage and pineapple, and wonderfully tangy Cumberland Sauce. Though baked apples and herby dumplings are nice, too.