The trendy young things of Britain are looking backwards fondly to things past and it seems food is no different. The two hot things for Christmas 2015 appeared to be goose and bird-in-bird combinations. I have very little to say about the latter. It seems crazy to go through all the effort of boning birds of ever-decreasing wingspan to create a Russian doll of meat. There have to be some pretty expensive creatures towards the centre and it seems a shame to blur the flavours like that. It may be a feat… But is it food?
I like the idea of goose though. I can’t ever recall seeing it on a menu in a restaurant but I’ve seen it in a number of Victorian melodramas. When my daughter asked whether we could try it I was happy to concede. I have cooked goose before. It was many years ago and I just remember a small bird, overcooked and a devil of a job to get a small quantity of meat off the carcass. This time I ordered a 4.5 kg bird from my local friendly butcher (who was having the bird-in-bird combination for his Christmas meal) ready for New Year. I still couldn’t face the wrath of Christmas guests who were wanting something like last year.
I sought the advice of a Gordon Ramsey recipe http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2428/gordons-christmas-roast-goose- . This looked a nice fresh-tasting recipe with some sweetness and zestiness in the citrus fruits. It also looked nice and straightforward.
The goose looked good. The first decision is what end product we are aiming for. If I was comparing to duck I’d want it pink but I wanted something a little more medium for the guests. I was also aware of the copious amounts of fat that were likely to be produced and so careful handling during cooking was an important consideration. I lined a roasting pan with plenty of foil and followed Gordon’s advice of scoring the breast as well as pricking the fattier areas. I then cooked the goose covered in foil on a rack in the pan.
The cavity was stuffed with a lemon, a lime, and some of the spiced marinade as well as some sprigs of thyme and parsley.
I was amazed at the cooking time. I’d planned on three hours and I was very nervous about burning the bird. I cooked for two hours covered and then uncovered for the last hour. I needn’t have worried – this bird basted itself and I was glad I used a thermometer to check the internal temperature. After three hours I had a medium bird but it was still pink in the armpits. Letting it rest for thirty minutes just finished it off nicely and it carved beautifully.
It is deceptive. I could carve beautiful thin slices off the breast but the carving becomes increasingly difficult. We had just enough meat to feed six but when we picked it subsequently there was a surprising amount of additional meat – enough for some tasty wraps for three.
The texture reminds me of beef but the flavour is like slightly gamey duck. I would definitely do it again. We had it with spicy red cabbage, carrots and roast potatoes. I made a lovely reduction of goose stock with plenty of port which was fabulous. I have more than enough goose fat to last me a year’s-worth of roast dinners. Despite my foil preparation I defy anyone to manipulate the roast without coating their kitchen in goose fat!