Cooking some geese can lead to loads of fat and dry meat, and there could be a couple of common reasons for that: poor quality goose and/or poor cooking. Some commercial geese have a ridiculous amount of fat covering that will never render down unless its in the oven for several hours and then the flesh gets dry, too.
There are some really excellent producers of goose in the UK now, such as Judy Goodman in Worcestershire (www.goodmans geese.co.uk), Seldom Seen geese ( www.seldomseenfarm.co.uk) and if you fancy a foreign bird on Christmas Day then Donald Russell (www.donaldrussell.com) stock very good Loue geese which are smaller than your average goose; more like a large duck.
I've decided to de-bone my goose this year to make carving easier (see the video below for my guide to how) and just let people help themselves. It's perfectly true that I'm a bit of a purist and normally an advocate of serving my meat on the bone, but this year I'm going to break the mould and make life easy for everyone.
You can get your butcher to de-bone your goose for you, but make sure you ask him to start de-boning it from the back and keep it in one piece as well as boning the legs and keeping them attached. Make sure he gives you all the bones and bits back. I've also used Julian Temperley's apple brandy ( www.ciderbrandy.co.uk), which some of you may remember me banging on about last year.
- For 2 geese, depending on their size, de-boned (a 3kg bird should serve 6-8)
- 4 or 5 medium apples such as Cox's Orange Pippin or Egremont Russet, peeled and cored A couple of good shots of apple brandy
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- String for tying
- 6 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 large onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1tbsp chopped thyme leaves
- Lard or dripping for greasing
Trim the excess fatty skin from your goose, leaving a couple of centimetres of fat on either side of the breast to fold and overlap when rolled (see the first recipe for goose scratchings).
Lay your goose out on a flat surface with the skin side down, then cut half of the leg meat away and lay it at the other end of the bird where there is just breast meat, so that there is an even distribution of breast and leg meat throughout.
Quarter the apples and lay them down the centre of the bird, season, then neatly roll up the bird by bringing the breasts around the apples and overlapping the bit of extra fat you left on. Neatly tie up the bird at 2-3cm intervals then secure the ends by folding over the meat and tying (this can also be done the day before).
Wrap the goose tightly in several layers of clingfilm then place in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. This will help to release any excess fat before roasting. Remove from the water and remove the clingfilm.
Pre-heat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8.
Lightly grease a large ovenproof serving dish with a little dripping or lard and season, layer the potatoes and onions alternately in the dish, lightly seasoning the layers and scatter the thyme leaves on each layer. If you have one of those curved wire poultry trivets, season and lay the goose inside and place on the potatoes, or otherwise place the potatoes in the oven on the bottom rack and place the goose directly above on the oven rack so the fat drips into the potatoes.
Roast the goose for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C/gas mark 5 and continue cooking for another 40 minutes, brushing the goose with the apple brandy every so often and basting the potatoes every so often with the fat. Rest the goose for 15 minutes before removing the string and cutting into 1cm thick slices. The potatoes can be transferred to a serving dish or served on a board with the goose.
To complement this meal, Anthony Rose recommends
2004 Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz
Since Orlando, the owners of the Jacob's Creek brand, applied the JC name to their higher end wines in an attempt to polish them à la Penfolds, its reserve wines have been showing the benefits. This South Australian shiraz displays blackberry and blueberry flavours in a spicy framework of oaky richness. 7.99, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Waitrose
2005 Two Paddocks Pinot Noir, Central Otago
The richness of goose and its trimmings needs a little sweetness in the wine and this delightful red made from low-yielding pinot noir from the actor Sam Neill's three Central Otago vineyards at Gibbston, Earnscleugh and Alexandra, is fragrantly strawberryish and deliciously red-fruited with a light touch of spicy vanilla oak, a refreshing nip of acidity and just the right level of sweetness to handle the richness of the big bird. 15.80, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, London SW1 (020-7259 0102) and Stow-on-the-Wold (01451 870508) or 14.05 bottle/case