Monday, 20 December 2010

Christmas Conversion

We always used to have turkey for Christmas lunch. This tradition came from both Stevie's and my families, altered only slightly from the huge, frozen affairs our mothers favoured, to a Kelly Bronze or a Norfolk Black. Then, about six or seven years ago, we were too late to order either, but we could get a goose. It was organic, free-range, and extremely expensive, but we took it. I'd never cooked a goose before so I turned, as I always do in such circumstances, to Nigella Lawson for advice. What a palaver: it had to be dried out over night, by an open window before being placed in a very hot oven for three or four hours. Her recipe called for it to be stuffed with mashed potato, so this is what I did, and it was delicious.

We've never looked back. Hot, it is crisp on the outside like Chinese roast duck, and moistly tender within. Cold, it's fantastic with crusty bread, salad and pickles and just seems to get better day by day. From then on goose was our Christmas bird of choice. I've messed with the recipe since then, I no longer stuff it at all, and I dry it out in the fridge. We have it with the usual festive trimmings: sprouts with chestnuts and bacon, Bob's favourite sausage balls flavoured with sage and garlic, roast spuds, and goosey gravy made in the roasting pan with Marsala.

Two years ago Stevie was made redundant, as most of you know, and the price of an organic, free-range bird became beyond our new means. Enter Lidl. Whilst browsing for bargains one day I saw they had frozen geese for twenty quid. This was about a quarter the price of the fresh ones we'd been accustomed to. I had my reservations but needs must, I set them aside, and hawked one to the till. Squeezing it into our modest freezer was challenge enough, then I had to remember to take it out almost a week before Christmas to ensure it was properly defrosted. That done, I treated it exactly as I did a fresh one.

And here it is. I have no idea whether my mind was playing tricks on me, or if my standards had slipped, but this goose was the best we'd had so far: crisper, moister, and tastier. This year's goose will be moved from the freezer to the fridge this evening. Fingers crossed it doesn't disappoint.


rosaria said...

I'm dropping by from Katherine M's blog, Writingfrommymountain, to say hello. The goose idea seems doable and really festive.

Titus said...

I do like goose, but am a turkey traditionalist (from childhood, like you, though we were lucky enough to have the choice of the fresh that came to the shop - if Mum was quick, that is, because if not she's end up with one with a marked breast that hadn't sold) and my one regret is that I can't make a plain suet pudding like Mum does. We always had suet pudding with white meats.
Picture is making me hungry, and excited!
And I love Lidl!

Leigh Russell said...

Turkey for Christmas is a relatively new idea. In Victorian times they always had goose, so you are following tradition!

savannah said...

looks delish! happy christmas, sugarpie! xoxoxox

Kass said...

I envy people who have deep traditions around food. So comforting.

Eryl said...

Rosaria ~ hello, how nice of you to pop by. I find goose easier than turkey because it doesn't suffer from any tendency to dry out. This means you can leave it in the oven for much longer, should you need to. The only thing you have to remember to do is spoon off the copious fat that drips off it as it cooks every now and again.

Titus ~ I've never had a suet pudding with white meats. Have you not been able to master your mum's recipe, or is she keeping it secret?

I'm getting quite excited myself!

Leigh ~ hello you, how are you? I must pop over and see you, I've been very unbloggy for far too long.

I remember the nursery rhyme about the goose getting fat, which I assume is Victorian.

Savannah ~ you too, honeybun. I'm as much excited for you as for us, XXXXXXX

angryparsnip said...

That looks so wonderful !
What a great story, now I must try to cook a Goose next year. I can't wait to hear how this years Goose comes out.

Besides Alton Brown and Ina Garten I really love Nigella Lawson recipes !
This year we are having Duck Breast and a Beef Tenderloin for our Christmas Dinner.
My Tucson Son is becoming a fabulous cook and he is on a duck kick lately. So we shall have a taste of both this year at dinner.

I want to know what you do with the with the trifle !

cheers, parsnip

Eryl said...

Kass ~ I missed you there. You're right, there is something very comforting about food traditions. I tend to play around with mine a lot, but not so much that the essence is lost, at least I hope it's not.

Eryl said...

Parsnip ~ how wonderful to have your son cook for you, and two of my favourite things!

Friday will reveal all about the trifle, I thought I'd save the best till last, as they say.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I just licked my monitor. Not the same but a fraction of the calories.

Grump said...

Loved your description of Goose. My mouth is watering the keyboard as I type. My brother who is next to me has gone for duck this year but says he loves a good goose. I hope this years frozen goose is up to the standard of the one you described and photographed. I had a closer look at the photo and I think I can see Bob's favourite sausage balls.
Merry Christmas to you.

Titus said...

Oh no, she'll happily show me, again and again. It's just I'm crap at them.
My dumplings are good though.

Pat said...

The mashed potato sounds a great idea. I can't believe what you paid originally for a goose but for years my DIL did Christmas for us (now in Australia)so I'm massively out of touch. Incidentally I think you'd make a great DIL.
I'm just going to have to cancel our Christsmas dinner at an inn - being snowed in and the chicken planned is unlikely to be delivered.
This is one Christmas where one isn't going to feel guilty at stuffing oneself whilst others go hungry:)

Alesa Warcan said...

I love goose! And yours sounds delicious. : j

Clearly you've been researching it thoroughly, so why are you going with the micro 4/3 instead of going with a DSLR?

Kim Ayres said...

Since I've been with Maggie, we've never had turkey. I could never see the point in it. To my mind it was always dry and bland and for 3 months afterwards we were still eating cold, dry and bland leftovers.

We just go for an organic free range chicken, which is much tastier. And as we don't eat a lot of meat in our house, is still a treat.

NanU said...

Mmm, Christmas goose! Sounds wonderful.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Hi Rosaria up there! :-D

I have never had goose! I'm hoping this one will be even tastier than the one last year ...Good Holidays to you! (and Nigella is wonderful!)

nick said...

That's such a mouth-watering description I'm almost tempted to nip out and buy a goose. But only almost because I'm vegetarian. We'll be having a very exotic lasagna for our Christmas dinner, washed down of course with plenty of the amber nectar.

debra said...

My mother-in-law always made a turkey and a little ham studded with cloves for my father-in-law. She's gone now, and I'm not sure what's on the menu. My vegan daughter has plans, though.
wishing you all the best

Eryl said...

UB ~ any way of reducing calorie intake at this time of year has got to be worth a go.

Grump ~ hello there! Sound's like your brother knows his birds. Bob's favourite sausage ball are there indeed.

Titus ~ ooh, dumplings!

Pat ~ the mashed potato was great and I would still do it if there were enough of us to eat it all.

I do hope you have plenty to stuff yourselves with, and, thank you for that lovely compliment, X

Alesa ~ cost, and a vague fear that I'm not up to DSLR standard. I also like being able to carry my camera in my pocket or bag so it's always with me without having to remember it. Who said, 'the best camera is the one you have with you'?

Kim ~ a good roast chicken is hard to beat. And I know what you mean about turkey, until I discovered the Kelly Bronze I thought it was ghastly.

Nanu ~ I do hope it will be!

Kat ~ I'm a total convert to goose, and Bob starts fantasising about cold goose sandwiches as soon as the weather turns cold! Happy holidays to you, too.

Nick ~ I hope you are planning to give us a description, complete with photos, of you exotic lasagne.

Debra ~ take photos, I'd love to see a vegan Christmas spread.

Carole said...

I have never tried goose. It sounds interesting although I am suspicious that it is as good as you say. I think the way you cook it must make it better. I may have to look up Nigella Lawson and try her recipes.

Eryl said...

It's very similar to duck, Carole, very high in fat which sits under the skin and so keeps the meat moist as it cooks.

I love Nigella Lawson for her writing alone. And the fact that she is a home, as opposed to restaurant, cook, a mother and a wife means she understands the home cook's limitations. For her the purpose of cooking is to make something delicious to feed your family and friends without having a heart attack. Not to show off your culinary prowess, as it seems to be for some food writers.