Christmas Dinner 2007

Found some goose breast crowns in LIDL, weighing about a kilo each, for £8. The instructions were to roast at 200 (Gas Mark 6) for an hour, and that worked really well. I was using a single small oven this year, and that let me roast the potatoes underneath and the celery stuffing on the bottom.

Two of them gave off about a pint of good quality fat, and we carved off two whole breasts from each one, one breast per person. That was a large portion of solid meat, and there was a spare breast for slices if seconds were required.

The German meat stall at the Sheffield Christmas Market sold sealed longlife bags of shredded red cabbage cooked in apple juice, I microwaved one of them as a veg.

Dad did his oriental braised sprouts, and carrots with soy sauce and star anise. There were some steamed new potatoes, as well as the roasties.

Plain gravy made in the goose roasting tin, with some Chardonnay left over from Christmas Eve supper.

EDIT: Whoops, forgot, apple butter sauce with cloves as well

Bottle of Quinze President with main course.

A Waitrose "richly fruited" christmas pudding, with cream or white sauce, and a tiny bottle of Royal Tokay wine.

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Celery Stuffing

I meant to make cornbread dressing to go with the Christmas goose, but I didn’t have time to make the cornbread. So I riffed it:

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small strips
  • some sunflower oil
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 massive rib green celery, very leafy, chopped
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 3 slices crumbled stollen (to replace the cornbread sweetness)
  • 6 slices sourdough bread, lightly toasted and cut into rough cubes
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp dried sage
  • About 2/3 pint well-seasoned chicken stock (2 coffee mugs)

Fry the bacon in the oil until brown and crisp. Scoop the bacon out, add the butter to the oil and fry the onion and celery, with the leaves, until soft and the onion is browning at the edges. Take off the heat, add the bacon and the dry ingredients. Stir well, tip into a baking dish. Sprinkle with half the stock, and bake on the bottom of the oven. This had an hour at gas mark 6, under the goose and potatoes. If it starts to toast and dry out too much, add the second mug of stock about half way through.

Great cold, too. It was very green, if the celery wasn’t leafy, or was blanched, I’d be tempted to bung in a bunch of roughly chopped parsley.

Good cold.

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Cornbread Dressing

There was something about this that really reminded me of Stovetop Dressing, it was comforting and plain. John liked it and is hinting that it would be a good addition to the Christmas canon. This from someone who usually doesn’t bother with bread stuffing at all. The recipe below is what I actually did, although unless I’ve got a vegetarian on the premises again I’ll use real bacon and bacon fat next time, which the original recipe suggested.

4 slices quorn bacon, cut into shreds
4 oz butter, in two batches
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 cups crumbled cornbread
3 medium slices wholemeal bread, lightly toasted and cut into small squares (maybe about 1.5 cms?)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
About 1/3 pint well-seasoned warm stock (veggie in this case, chicken would be more usual)

Fry the bacon in one lot of butter, tip it into a big bowl and fry the veggies in the next lot. Add to the bowl with all the dry ingredients, mix up well. Pile into a baking dish (I used a heavy crockery pie dish), pour on the stock to moisten and bake at Gas Mark 5 for half an hour (into the oven once the turkey’s come out would be fine).

As there’s no egg or other binding it doesn’t need cooking so much as warming through, the longer you cook it the more the bottom will get soft and the top crisp. If you’re enough of a veggie not to want the quorn bacon, it will need more salt and possibly some fake/liquid smoke of some kind. If you’re setting the oven high once the turkey’s done, for roasting potatoes, you could heat this in a heavy-bottom frying pan on the hob, or if you can fit it in, put it low down in the oven and keep an eye on it. You could, of course, actually stuff the turkey with it.

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Things to do with Goose

The Cuisine for December 1984 also had a retro-article on goose cookery, it's not worth writing out the recipes, they were fairly standard, but some of the ideas were a little bit different. And would do fine for duck too.

Liver – dredge with seasoned flour and cook in goose fat on a high heat, serving with a jammy sauce made with prunes soaked in Madeira, onions and tart apples, with a little marjoram at the end.

Casserole – with onions and mushrooms, finished off with double cream, french mustard and fresh parsley

Ragout with bacon, turnips, cloves, bay leaf – caramelising the turnips in goose fat and sugar before adding them

A very complex stuffing for goose, making a cornbread with crumbled Italian sausage in it, mixing that with dried orchard fruits and mushrooms. Served with chestnuts braised with celery and goose gravy until coated and caramelised, and honeyed yams. I wouldn't do all three of those, it would be far too sweet – and certainly I'd want a watercress salad on the side, or a raw cranberry relish, or something very tart and sharp.

 

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Chestnut Stuffing

What with have a goose rather than a turkey, I somehow managed to avoid having anything with chestnuts in it for Christmas dinner. So this afternoon I'm baking a tray of my favourite chestnut stuffing, to have cold at Hogswatch. I've made this regularly for about 30 years now, it's a recipe by Josceline Dimbleby from the first ever Sainsbury's cookbook, her Cooking for Christmas.

  • 4 oz smoked streaky bacon, in small cubes
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 onion chopped finely
  • turkey heart and liver, chopped finely (if you've got giblets, otherwise don't bother)
  • 6 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 10 oz tin chestnut puree (unsweetened)
  • 1 small tube smooth liver pate
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 whisked egg
  • salt and pepper

Fry the bacon, onion, and giblets in the butter for about 5 minutes. Scrape it all into a bowl, making sure you get all the fat, and mix in everything else. Put in a baking dish, baste with turkey juices if you're roasting a bird at the same time, and cook with the bird for the last 45 minutes.

I have taken over the years to adding a pack of ready-peeled chestnuts, crumbled, sprinkling it with sherry and chicken stock if no turkey juices are to hand, and find that 45 minutes in a square baking tray at Gas Mark 3 works fine. You can make it into balls if you're that way inclined. It sounds odd, especially that quantity of oregano, but it's very tasty and seriously moreish.

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