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.