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Christmas is coming the geese are getting fat

We've all heard the this Christmas carol. Having goose at Christmas time used to be a staple and slowly gave way to the Christmas turkey. If you have never had goose, give it a try, be ahead of the trend and help this tradition return.

Goose meat is richer and darker than turkey. It has a higher fat content than poultry, but a lot of the fat melts away during cooking, leaving deliciously tasty and succulent meat. Goose is comparable in fat content to many cuts of beef, and the rendered fat is culinary gold. Nothing tastes better than vegetables or potatoes sauteed in goose fat. Remember it is a treat and everyone deserves the occasional treat!

When buying a goose try to find a fresh, free range bird. Most geese are raised under cover for the first few weeks of their lives and then are set out to roam the pasture where they eat grass and grains. The smaller/younger the bird, the tastier it will be. You are better off cooking 2 smaller birds than 1 larger one. An 8 pound bird will serve 5-6 people.

Geese are a red meat bird and the breast meat can be eaten medium rare. If you are using a thermometer it will register around 150F. If this bothers you feel free to cook it 160F and it will no longer be pink. Please do not let the thermometer go over180F as it will be dry.

A wonderful accompaniment with goose is braised red cabbage along with roast potatoes. Stuff it with your favorite stuffing or try the classic prune stuffing. Now let's get cooking.

Let's start with the stuffing.

Pr-heat the oven to 425F/218C/Gas 7

40-50 prunes
2-3 Cups/500-750ml boiling water or tea
1 Cup/500ml dry white wine or 2/3 cup/160ml dry vermouth
2 Cups/500ml brown goose stock or brown chicken stock
Goose liver minced
2 TB/ 30ml finely minced shallots
1TB/15 ml butter
1/3/79 ml Cup port wine
½ Cup/ 59ml (4oz)/(115g) pate de foie gras or good pate
Pinch allspice
Pinch of dried thyme
2-3 TB/30-45ml bread crumbs
½ tsp/2ml salt
¼ tsp/1ml black pepper

Place prunes in a shallow baking dish or sauce pan. Pour the water or tea over them and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain the water. Place the prunes back into the sauce pan. Add the wine and stock. Cover the pan and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes. While prune are simmering. Saute the goose liver, and shallots in the butter for about 2 minutes, just until the shallots are softened and translucent. Remove to a mixing bowl with the pate. Add the port to the same pan the shallots were cooked in. Rapidly boil the port until it is thick and reduced to about 2TB/30ml spoons. Drain the prunes reserving the liquid. Mix the pate allspice and thyme with the liver/shallot, and prunes. Add bread crumbs is the mixture is too loose.

8-9 lb/3.6-4 kg Goose
1 Carrot, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
2 Stalks of celery, sliced
pot of boiling water
3 TB/45ml unsalted butter

Remove all of the excess fat from the cavity and save to render down if you desire. Place the goose in the sink. Pierce the skin and fat with a roasting fork making sure not to pierce the skin by grabbing the fat and excess skin before poking with the fork. Pour boiling water over the goose. This helps to tighten the skin and helps with the browning. Dry thoroughly. Salt and pepper the cavity of the goose. Stuff it loosely . Sew or skewer the vents shut. Secure the legs, wings and neck skin to the body.

Scatter vegetables in a large roasting pan. Place the goose breast side up. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn it on it's side. Lower the heat to 350F/176C/Gas 4 and continue roasting for another 30 minutes. Baste the goose every 15-20 minutes with 2-3TB/30-45ml of boiling water, removing excess fat as you go. Turn the goose on the other side and baste again. Roast for another 30 minutes. Turn the goose onto it's back and roast for 15 minutes longer. The goose is done when the drumsticks move slightly and when the juices run clear when pricked in the thickest part of the leg. Remove the goose to a cutting board or platter. Tent with foil.

Remove the fat from the cooking juices. Pour the liquid from the prunes and the port to the brown roasting juices. Boil rapidly scraping the brown bits from the bottom until it is reduced. Remove from the heat and swirl in butter one tablespoon at a time.

If you want to be a bit more fancy stuff each prune with the pate mixture before placing in the goose-like Julia Child recommended.

Swedish Cabbage

While the goose is cooking start on the cabbage. This is a red cabbage dish. Red cabbage takes much longer to cook than it's green or white cousin.

4 TB/60ml unsalted butter
2 Large red cabbages cored and thinly sliced
1 Onion, grated
2 TB/30ml molasses/black treacle2 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 TB/45ml lemon juice
½ Cup/125ml red wine vinegar
2 tsp/10ml salt
1 tsp/5mlblack pepper

Place butter in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add cabbage and wilt over medium high heat. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally.

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