By Fiona Sims
Pic credit: Gressingham Foods
With its crackly crisp skin and rich moist meat goose makes a fine festive meat. And it’s growing in popularity too - almost to the point when we would eat it all year if we could. But we can’t, we have to wait until the autumn to eat our first goose of the year.
Why’s that then? Because geese can’t be forced to produce fertile eggs - they lay in the spring so there are no birds available until September. And that’s how it’s always been.
Way back when goose was eaten on Michaelmas Day (29th September), fat from eating the stubble in the fields after harvest. It was seen as a symbol – to protect against financial hardship in the following year.
Ok, so most of us associate eating goose at Christmas. Indeed, goose is the traditional alternative to turkey. And I would scoff it like a shot on Christmas Day if I could – that rich, densely flavoured juicy meat is gets my vote every time. But there are always too many of us, so a (brined) turkey it is.
So this year I’ve decided to start another tradition – scoffing goose a week before Christmas, with a little help from hubby and four mates. A 4.5kg goose (without giblets) feeds six greedy eaters, or eight comfortably.
You probably already know this already but eating turkey on Christmas Day is a relatively recent development. Agricultural innovations of the last century meant that the larger and, for many, less succulent bird replaced goose as the most popular Christmas roast.
Yeah, but goose produces so much fat, doesn’t it? And doesn’t it mess up your oven? Yes, and no – especially not if you cook it how I did in the simple recipe below, courtesy of Gressingham Foods.
As far as the cooking goes, it’s no different to cooking a turkey. You might have to trim away any excess fat inside the cavity if you’re stuffing it – but even that can be squirreled away for later use, melted slowly over a low heat (known as rendering) before being cooled, strained and kept in the fridge for up to six months to slather over potatoes before roasting, the perfect accompaniment to roast goose. And the copious fat that is produced when the bird is roasted can be saved too, and also kept in the fridge for up to a month and used in the same way.
How to make the perfect roast goose
Take your goose out of the fridge two hours before cooking it. Preheat your oven to 180oC, Fan 160oC Gas Mark 4. Remove all packaging. Take the giblets out of the body cavity (they’re useful for making stock). Weigh the goose without the giblets. Place on a rack in a large roasting tin then prick the skin all over with a fork and rub a teaspoon of salt in to the skin. Cover loosely with foil and place in the middle of a preheated oven. Roast the goose for 30 mins per 1kg. Carefully pour off the goose fat occasionally (this can be kept to make crispy roast potatoes). Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking then remove the goose from the oven, check the juices run clear when pierced with a fork or skewer. If the juices do not run clear, return to the oven for a further 15 minutes and check juices again. When the goose is cooked, remove from the oven and rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
It’s difficult. We sympathise. Despite being an entirely different shape and size we have an uncanny ability to turn up in the same outfit (usually black) and order the same dishes. We both wear glasses, swathe ourselves in scarves and fancy Daniel Craig.
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