…is good for our Christmas lunch
It’s six fifteen and it’s all over bar the shouting, the arguments over monopoly (my nephew is a slippery little bugger), doctor who, indigestion and falling asleep during It’s a Wonderful Life (I don’t know what it is about that film, but I’ve tried three times to watch it and I’ve failed every time).
I’m not feeling at all inspired creatively at this moment, so I fear that all I’m going to be able to manage is to document the cooking events of the day that have taken this family on a journey from hunger to light inebriation, food ecstasy and utter fulfilment, where we stayed for a brief moment, before plummeting into overindulgence, fatigue and mild sickness (all, as ever, with no regrets).
This may take a while, but I want to get it down for the record (even if only to refer back to next year).
We’ll start by concentrating on the goose. Remove the giblets and any excess fat and set aside. Now prick the skin of the goose all over, rub with olive oil and season really well with salt and pepper (and five spice if you wish). Put it in a large roasting tin on top of a selection of roughly chopped carrots, onions, celery and a garlic bulb cut in half. You’re going to cook it for 30 mins per kg and then let it rest for 30 mins, so time it accordingly.
Take the giblets (not the fat) and put them into a pan with an onion chopped in half, a bay leaf, some peppercorns, a carrot and water. Heat the water and boil for 30 mins then set aside to cool – this is your stock.
For the stuffing, finely chop a large onion and two cloves of garlic, add to four large handfuls of breadcrumbs, a small handful of chopped sage, seasoning, a beaten egg, olive oil and 300g of sausage meat. Mix it all together and put a few balls of it into the goose. put the rest into a shallow wide ovenproof dish (you want the maximum surface area exposed) and rough it up a little so there are plenty of rough edges to get nice and crispy.
Preheat the oven to 220c and when it’s ready put in the goose for 30 minutes, then take it out, turn the heat down to 180c, remove the excess fat in the bottom of the pan, cover the legs in foil and then put it back into the oven for the remaining cooking time.
When your time is up, take the beautifully cooked goose out of the oven, cover it in foil and a few tablecloths and leave it to rest. After about 10 mins, drain all the juices from inside the carcas into the roasting tin and transfer it to a large warm plate, keeping the foil and tablecloths over it to keep the residual heat it. It can now sit for another 20 mins before you carve and serve it.
Now, everything else you do needs to work around this timing. What I have done for years is start with when you want to eat and work backwards with each step above along with the appropriate timing, then slot in all the other things you have to do and when you have to do them. Then you have your plan for the morning – here’s one I made earlier, complete with goose fat…(don’t worry about the upside-down bits)…
Now for everything else. We had the following – naturally I’d recommend them all:
Roast potatoes and parsnips, peas, carrots and leeks, shredded sprouts with bacon, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon, red cabbage, stuffing and gravy. So here we go:
The red cabbage is best done the night before – chop a whole red cabbage, an onion and a few cloves of garlic very finely and put them in a large saucepan with a large block of butter and a couple of peeled and chopped apples. Add a few large tablespoons of berry jam, a glass of port and season well. Let it cook on a low heat for a couple of hours stirring from time to time. Now all it needs is reheating when you need it.
Now prepare all your veg – peel and chop the spuds, parsnips and carrots and leave them in cold water until you need them, also finely shred the sprouts and blanche them for just a few minutes and refresh in cold water before setting aside.
Next you can kick off the bread sauce: Chop an onion into four and put it in a saucepan with 6 cloves, 6 peppercorns , a bay leaf and a 500ml of milk. Bring it to just below simmering point for ten minutes and then set it aside for later.
Then, take a load of cocktail sausages, wrap them in streaky bacon rashers cut in half and pop them in a roasting tin.
For the cranberry sauce, take an onion and chop it finely along with a quarter of a chilli (no seeds) and a clove of garlic. Fry in plenty of butter and then add a bag of cranberries and a glass of port. season well, add two tablespoons of sugar and cook it gently on the hob until the berries pop, creating a semi smooth sauce, while maintaining a decent level of texture. Now taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in a serving dish – it’s done.
About an hour before you’re going to eat, drain as much fat from under the goose as you can without throwing it around the kitchen and save for later use (putting the goose straight back into the oven and turning it up again to 220c). Take some of the fat, pour it into a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat. Par boil the spuds in boiling salty water for about 8 minutes, then drain off the water (into the saucepan with the parsnips), rough the spuds up in the saucepan with the lid on and then put them into the roasting tin with the hot fat, roll them around, season them well with salt and pepper and straight into the top of the oven. Put the dish with the stuffing in now too.
Now par boil the parsnips for about 5 minutes, drain them (keeping the water again) and set them aside.
By this time, the goose will be ready to take out of the oven, so take it out and replace it with the parsnips in a roasting tin with boiling hot goose fat (not too much by the way) and seasoned as with the spuds. Now’s probably a good time to put in the sausages too…
Right. So the goose is out of the oven wrapped in foil and tea towels, the spuds and parsnips are cooking nicely, the stuffing is in the oven and the cranberry sauce is sitting on the table ready – you’re nearly there…
Bread sauce – drain the infused milk into a fresh saucepan and add 4-5 handfuls of white breadcrumbs, and a very large knob of butter grate in a quarter of a nutmeg and pour in 200ml of double cream. Season and then heat it gently, adding more cream if necessary until you get the consistency you like (I know how personal the desired consistency of bread sauce can be so I’m not going try to tell you how it should be) bearing in mind that it will thicken up when it cools.
Gravy – remove most of the fat from the bottom of the goose’s roasting tin, take all the vegetables that were roasting under the goose and put them into a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of flour. deglaze the roasting tin with a large glass of red wine or port making sure you get as much of the juices from it as you can and into the saucepan. Mix in the flour well and put in the hob along with the goose stock. Bring it to the boil and reduce and season if necessary. This will give you the most beautiful gravy.
Finely chop a leek and fry in a saucepan in butter for a few minutes before adding the carrots, then a little of the water from the spuds to steam the carrots. Season with pepper (no salt as it was already in the water). After five minutes add the peas (which you defrosted by putting them straight from the freezer into a bowl of hot water).
Sprouts – finely chop 6 streaky rashers of bacon and two cloves of garlic and fry in lots of butter until the bacon starts to crisp a little. drop in the shredded sprouts and some of the buttery water from the carrots and heat for a few minutes…
Phew – I think that’s it. Serve. Enjoy. Receive praise. Eat too much. Feel sick. Fall asleep on the sofa. (oh and Happy Christmas)
(this one has the bread sauce and gravy added…)