Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Recipe: Christmas Goose Dinner

Goose is one of my most favorite festive dishes. You will hear people complain that it is “too fatty,” probably because they have never had goose prepared correctly. This recipe will give you moist, succulent dark meat without the excess fat or fatty flavor. It is not difficult, but you must start a couple of days before roasting.  Also, a goose should be stuffed with a bread, potato or rice stuffing that will absorb some of the delicious fat from the inside of the bird. Do not use a sausage stuffing, or it will add to the fattiness. I am including a recipe for wild rice stuffing, which I personally like. Goose goes particularly well with tart fruit flavors to complement its richness, so I have included suggestions and recipes for accompaniments for the roasted goose. Next week: recipes for Prime Ribs of Beef Dinner.

Roast Goose with Wild Rice Stuffing
One fresh goose, 8–10 pounds for 5–6 people, or 11–12 pounds for 7–8 people; if the goose is frozen, it should be defrosted slowly in the refrigerator for two full days and then brought to room temperature for a few hours before starting this process.
6 cups chicken stock
1 onion
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery
Sprig of parsley
Bay leaf
1 cup wild rice
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Juice of ½ lemon
⅔ cup wine
From 24 to 48 hours before roasting, fill two-thirds of a pot large enough to hold the goose with water and bring to a boil. While water is heating up, remove the neck and giblets and set aside to make the stock and gravy. Trim excess fat from inside the body cavity, slice off the wide belly flaps covering the body cavity, and remove the fatty tail. (For the ambitious, this fat can go into a pot with a little water (about ½ cup) and be put over low heat to render out and make goose fat for frying potatoes— better than butter or oil.)
You still need to give the fat underneath the goose’s skin somewhere to go; if you don’t, the skin will never fully crisp up and the fat will stay in the meat. The best way to do this is to prick the skin with a clean, sharp sewing needle (or paring knife) from an angle, so that you are not piercing the flesh of the goose, just the skin. Do this all over the goose.
When the water comes to a rolling boil, submerge the goose, neck side down, for one minute, until goose bumps (yes, that is where that expression comes from) appear on the goose. Turn it tail side down, and repeat the process. Remove goose from the pot, and drain. Place, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Set it in the refrigerator, uncovered, to dry the skin for 24 to 48 hours.
Early on the day of roasting, make the stock and the stuffing. For the goose stock, cut up the giblets (but not the liver) and place them in 2 cups of the chicken stock, along with one sliced onion, one sliced carrot, one stalk of celery, salt, pepper, a sprig of parsley, and a bay leaf. Bring to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
For the stuffing, simmer the rice in a covered pot with the remaining 4 cups of chicken stock for 40–45 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. (If the rice is fully cooked before all of the liquid is absorbed, uncover the pan and boil until the liquid has evaporated.) In a small pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 23 minutes, or until the moisture has evaporated. Add the lemon juice and stir the mushroom mix into the rice, seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to cool, but do not refrigerate.
Remove goose from the refrigerator two hours before roasting. 
Preheat oven to 375°F.
When the bird reaches room temperature, stuff it. Seal cavities by sewing skin together with a clean needle and thread or using a special skewer and thread bought for the purpose. Draw the thighs close to one another and tie together with kitchen twine. Rub salt and pepper all over the skin. Place the bird on its side on a rack in a roasting pan, and place in the oven. In 15 minutes turn the bird on its other side and baste with some of the stock. After another 15 minutes, turn the bird on its back, breast side up, baste and continue roasting. After a total of 45 minutes of roasting, turn the oven temperature down to 350°F and continue roasting until the bird has roasted 15 minutes per pound, or until its internal temperature, when tested with a meat thermometer, has reached a minimum of 180 degrees.
When done, transfer the goose to a carving board; remove trussing, string, or skewer and cover with aluminum foil, loosely tented over it, allowing the bird to rest before carving.
To make gravy, pour off most of the fat from original roasting pan and place it over two burners. Mix in the ⅔ cup of wine and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. Pour a cup of giblet broth over the drippings and reduce to make a gravy.

Braised Red Cabbage
1 head red cabbage, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced
2 apples, pared, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon flour
I encourage you to cook this the day before. It is even better heated up, and not having to worry about this will reduce the pressure on the day you are cooking everything else.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the cabbage for one minute and drain. The cabbage will turn a deep violet color, but it will come back to its natural color later in the process, when the vinegar is added. In a flameproof casserole (large enough to later add the cabbage), melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and fry the onion until soft but not browned.  Add the apples, stir, and cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove apple-onion mixture from the pot. Add layers of cabbage and apple mixture, sprinkling each layer with vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover with buttered brown or parchment paper or aluminum foil and then the pot’s cover. Place in the oven and allow to braise until cabbage is soft, usually 1½–2 hours. Stir cabbage occasionally, adding ¼ cup of water if dry. Allow to cool, and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before reheating. While the goose is roasting, reheat cabbage on the stove, stirring and adding a tablespoon or two of water to avoid it being totally dry. Then take the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and knead it with the flour. Stir into the cabbage, a little at a time, to thicken the juices while reheating. Add salt and pepper.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes or Yams
This is especially nice because it can be prepared in advance and finished in the oven while the goose is resting.

8 sweet potatoes of about the same size, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup honey
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 20–30 minutes, depending upon size, until potatoes are soft but still intact. Drain, allow to cool and slice. Butter a flat baking dish and arrange the slices of cooked sweet potatoes, tightly overlapping, to fill the dish.with one layer. Spoon over the lemon juice, honey.and nuts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dot with butter. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Apple Sauce
This sauce can be made the day before and refrigerated. It may be served cold or at room temperature, or heated up and served warm. You decide.
8 apples (I like to mix up the varieties)
1 pear
Pare, core and slice the fruit. Place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover about half of the fruit. Cook over medium heat, watching to see if too much water evaporates—in which case, just add more. Do not allow fruit to brown. When the fruit gets pulpy and begins to fall apart, mash and mix with a wooden spoon. You may leave this a bit chunky or strain if needed to make it smooth.

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