24 December 2012

Bird of 2012

After missing two years in a row, Lundulph and I decided to restart our Christmas theme by going back to where it first started - with goose. We did this a few years before I started blogging and in fact was when we got the idea of doing a different bird each year too.

Thus, when the order forms came up at our local butcher's, I got one straight away. And last Wednesday I went to pick up my goose. Quite a difference to the previous time, when I bought it from the supermarket and it was frozen. What I got on pick-up day was this:


Quite fancy, a free range fresh goose, traditionally raised and yadda yadda. And it came with extra goose fat for the tatties and some giblets for the stock and a recipe leaflet.

But I'd already settled on a recipe from Mary Berry and went off to buy the necessary ingredients (while my sourdough breads were rising/proofing).

So first I made the stock as per Mary Berry's recipe, though I couldn't get hold of celery, so I skipped that and also parsley stalks - I just used about a dl of my frozen chopped parsley instead. After an hour, I had a dirty cooker and a pot of stock. I suppose I could have tried to do something with the giblets, but I couldn't be bothered and discarded them. I then strained the stock and let it cool down before putting in the fridge.

I also peeled two punnets (250 g each) of chestnut mushrooms, only separating the caps and the stems, no chopping or dicing.

The following day was the day of the dinner, so I started with peeling and preparing the potatoes for Hasselback-style roasting.


Then I cut a large head of cauliflower into bite-size florets and the Chantenay carrots into thin strips. I originally wanted what is called baby carrots in Sweden. These are tiny carrots, no more than 3 cm long and very flavourful. But I wasn't able to find any, so had to settle for Chantenay.

I then spent some time faffing around to work out how to roast the goose - I have a large and deep roasting tin, but it doesn't have a rack. I also have a rack, but that doesn't fit in the oven. I ended up using the rack from my grill pan in the deep large pan. Once this was sorted, I rinsed the goose and set about tying the goose up. See the previous time we did this, we had purchased a frozen goose and when it was thawed, it was still stuck in a sort of foetal position, so we didn't bother tying it up and so during roasting it stretched out and wedged itself into the oven. I had no intention of fighting with a roast goose that refuses to get out of the oven.

Thus, wings behind the back


Then the filling went into the main body cavity - peel from one apple ("Pink Lady" which Lundulph likes to eat), peel from a lemon and a few leaves of sage.


Bottom pinned together and legs together. I probably should invest in a thick needle to sew things together.


The goose went "face down" into the oven and had to go in diagonally, it was so big. 30 minutes later, there was a decent layer of fat in the roasting tin already and the back of the bird had started crisping up rather nicely. I turned the goose around on its back and let it roast for a further 20 minutes as per the instructions and then turned down to 180 degrees.

After the initial 50 minutes, I'd laid out the potatoes in another deep roasting tin and now just drained much of the fat from the goose onto the potatoes. I used a brush to make sure they got well coated and I put them to roast as well, they would need about 1 h and 15 minutes, and the goose would need 1 h and 30 minutes, so it would work out OK.

I then focused on the veggies. I first fried the mushrooms in a little butter and a bit of salt until they went soft and had a little colour. I then poured 300 ml of whipping cream and added a couple of bruised sage leaves along with more salt and some ground black pepper. I just brought the cream to simmer, then I transferred it to an oven safe dish with a lid and put under the goose to keep warm.


Next I steamed the carrots and cauliflower in separate pots. I kept an eye on the cauliflower, I wanted it to keep some crunch. In a saucepan, I heated up 300 ml double cream, seasoned with salt and pepper and pressed in a clove of garlic. Once it started simmering, I added the cauliflower and stirred it around, then transferred to another oven safe dish with a lid and put in the oven as well.


The carrots were to remain steamed only and I also steamed some frozen peas. I didn't even put a knob of butter on top of them - pure health in all the other rich food.


Once the goose was out of the oven and covered in aluminium foil and resting, I made the gravy. At this point I couldn't work out how much of the stuff in the large deep pan was cooking juices and how much was pure fat, so I just took a little from it and used all of the stock I had prepared before, I think it was around 800 ml, but I'm not sure. Because if this I didn't really weight the amount of flour, just put in 2 tbsp and stirred it in. It thickened a little once it came to the boil and that was it. As gravy goes, I didn't notice too much flavour in it, so perhaps regular chicken gravy would have worked as well. And so we were ready to enjoy our Christmas Dinner.


I did take the time to dress the goose for serving. Nothing elaborate - a packet of lambs' lettuce and a couple of thin slices of apple, which I'd dried in the oven at about 150 degrees, turning regularly. This was more of a fun whim, rather than anything else.


Everything was so tasty, Lundulph had a huge second portion and I never got time to make dessert and to be honest, we didn't have space for it either. I was going to do it on the following day, sadly this was not to be as I got a bad case of a stiff neck and spent the following days mostly sitting very still, propped up with pillows. Lundulph says I need to exercise more and I suspect he is right. We both will, as soon as the festivities are over...

Mary Berry's recipe is really good and very simple and crisped up the goose beyond my wildest expectations. It's a shame I didn't take the time to clean it up from the odd feather stubs, it would probably have been quite tasty. I think this recipe would work nicely with duck as well. I might swap the sage for rosemary, I like the taste better.

And as I finished clearing the table, I realised that I'd forgotten the Christmas crackers. Oh well, never mind.

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