The discovery of the Americas brought on a food revolution that still reverberates around the globe. It also brought on the demise of a holiday tradition celebrated in many parts of the world for hundreds of years.
Prior to Cristoforo Colombo's discovery of the New World a roasted goose was the mainstay on most Christmas tables, and it is a food tradition that should be sadly missed.
A perfectly roasted goose with crispy skin and succulent, moist meat is a wonder to behold. It sits majestically on the table and makes for a centerpiece your family won't soon forget. If you want to wow your guests this holiday season this is your best choice.
The roasted goose was popular in Victorian England. It was traditional at the Jewish feast of Hanukkah and popularly served on Saint Martin's day by the Catholic community. Even the Roman's, famous gourmands that they were, had this bird on their feast tables. But as hollowed as this fowl once was it has been supplanted by the American turkey.
The goose is celebrated not only for it deliciousness but also for the quality of fat it releases when cooked. Chefs think of this byproduct as liquid gold. Chef Gordon Ramsay suggests sneaking to the kitchen the morning after Christmas and frying your eggs in goose fat, a treat he says you will never forget.
The goose fat turns liquid at 111 degrees Fahrenheit and most find it rich, silky of texture and savory. Perhaps its most famous use is in making roasted potatoes. If you save your goose fat for cooking remember it is not a healthy option and should be used sparingly.
A GERMAN RECIPE FOR ROASTED GOOSE
1 goose, cleaned and well dried
2 apples cut into quarters
1 sliced onion
2-3 pinches of thyme
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups homemade chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the inside of the goose with salt and pepper and then stuff with the apples and onion. With a sharp knife, pierce the skin a dozen times or more. Place the goose in a roasting rack breast side down and then in the roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Roast for 50 minutes, basting several times with the water and fat that has been rendered, turn the goose over and continue roasting for 50 more minutes. To make a gravy use the flour and 2-3 tablespoons of the fat to make a roux, whisk in the chicken
stock and season to your taste. Let the goose rest 10 minutes or so before carving.
A ROASTED GOOSE BASED ON A CHEF JAQUES PEPIN RECIPE
Salt and pepper
1-½ tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon potato starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons red or white wine
Season the goose with salt and pepper. Place the goose on a roasting rack in a roasting pan to which 4 cups of water has been added. Cover the rack and pan with tin foil, place on the stove top and bring to a boil, steaming the bird for 45 minutes. Allow to cool then place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the skin to dry completely. This is an essential step to insure the skin is crispy. Do not discard the juices. As when roasting anything, allow the goose to come to room temperature before placing in the oven. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the honey and Tabasco mixture and1/4 cup of water. Roast the goose for 1 hour basting with the mixture 3-4 times. Turn the goose breast side down and roast 30 more minutes and continue to baste. Use an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and when it reaches 170 degrees turn the oven off and let it cool to 160 degrees. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Use the potato starch mixture to thicken the pan juices for a sauce, but first remove any excess fat. Season to your taste.
CHEF GORDON RAMSAY'S RECIPE
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Small bunch of parsley, thyme, sage
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Score the goose with a sharp knife to make a crisscross pattern. Grate lemons and limes, add 2 tablespoons sea salt, five-spice powder (found in any Asian market) and black pepper and rub into the skin of the goose carefully. Stuff the cavity with the limes and lemons and the herbs. It is best to let the bird sit overnight but a few hours will do. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Brown the goose in a large frying pan with a little oil until deeply colored. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Roast for about 1-and-a-half hours, basting every 30 minutes. It is done when an instant read thermometer reaches 170 degrees.
A top quality German or Alsatian Riesling, crisp and acidic would be an ideal paring for your Christmas goose. If you want to go red try a pinot noir. This wine is the darling of the Burgundy region of France but today the Pinots from the Willamette Valley in Oregon are taking the world by storm. They can be a bit pricey, but if you are ever going to loosen the purse strings for a great wine this is the time to do it.