Isn’t it just Dickensian, a roast goose? I imagine this is what chimney sweeps look forward to coming home to after a long night preparing everyone’s chimneys on Christmas eve. It really is a special meal, and honestly, not that hard to pull off. Surprise everyone this year with this honkin’ good recipe.
Roast Goose with Prunes and Chestnuts
serves 6-10 people, depending on the size of the goose
1 whole goose, 3.5 to 5 kg (8-11 lbs)
1 pc clementine
1 cup honey
2 cups dried prunes
4 pc shallots, peeled and chopped
6 pc bay leaves, preferably fresh but dried is fine
1 cup prune juice
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup madeira wine
2 cups beef stock
1 cup peeled chestnuts, roasted until golden
to taste salt and pepper
2 tbsp reserved rendered goose fat from the roast
2 tbsp all purpose flour
Six to twelve hours before your dinner, take the goose out of its wrapper and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator. This step, while not necessary, helps dry out the skin of the goose for a crispier skin.
Do not preheat the oven.
Three hours before serving, take the goose out of the fridge and inspect it for small feathers and feather “plugs”. Pick them out with a small paring knife. Then remove the wishbone – this step makes carving much easier. Place the goose breast side up on your cutting board. Lift the flap of fatty skin from the front of the goose and use your fingers to locate the wishbone. It runs in an inverted “V”, down from where the two breasts meet. Using a paring knife, cut the meat away from each side of the wish bone, slowly exposing the bone. Wriggle your fingers in and grasp the wishbone, and pull it out. Save the wishbone for the pan sauce.
Score the goose breast in a cross-hatch pattern, making sure that you’re only cutting through the skin and not into the meat of the breast. I find the tip of a paring knife to be the best tool for this job.
Roll the clementine on a counter to break up the cells of the fruit inside. Using the tip of the paring knife, poke about eight to ten holes all around the fruit. Place the clementine, one cup of the prunes, and four of the bay leaves into the cavity of the bird.
Truss the goose. Start by cutting a length of twine about two feet long. Place the goose breast side up on a cutting board, with the cavity facing you. Find the center of the length of twine and place it at the top of the breast, where the neck used to be. Bring the twine down the sides of the breast, over the wings, and between the leg and the breast. You should have the two ends of the twine towards you, just beside the cavity. Cross the twine, making an “x”, and bring the ends of the twine around the knuckle on the end of the drumstick. Loop the twine up towards the center and tie a tight double knot like a shoe, “closing” the drumsticks over the cavity.
Season the goose all over with salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a roasting pan, and put it on the middle rack of a cold oven.
Turn the oven to 400˚F, and slowly let the oven come up to temperature. When the oven gets to that temperature, roast the goose for approximately 20 minutes, or until the skin is a golden colour. Turn the oven temperature down to 300˚F, and let the goose roast for another two hours.
Fifteen minutes before the goose is finished roasting, heat the honey in a small pot on the stovetop over a medium heat. Take the goose out of the oven and brush it all over with the honey. Place the bird back into the oven for the final fifteen minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165˚F. Remove the goose from the oven, cover it with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
While the goose is resting, make the sauce. Drain and save the fat and roasting juices from the pan into a bowl. Place the roasting pan on a stove top burner set at a medium heat. Add the shallots and wishbone to the pan, and stir well until the shallots are translucent, scraping up any bits of roast that is stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the remaining bay leaves, red wine, and madeira, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half. Add the prune juice and reduce by half. Pour the mixture into a sauce pot, and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
By now the fat should have risen to the top of your drained bowl. Using a tablespoon, spoon the fat from the top of the juices and reserve for later cooking use (hello roast potatoes!). Add the roasting juices and the beef stock to the sauce pot, bring to a simmer, and reduce by a half again. Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to your taste.
To thicken the sauce, mix the reserved goose fat and flour together to make a paste. Bit by bit, whisk this paste into the sauce and simmer. The sauce should thicken once the flour is cooked, about five minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and place it in another sauce pot. Add the remaining prunes and chestnuts, and simmer for five minutes before serving alongside the carved goose.
To carve the goose, start by cutting the legs away from the carcass. Separate the drumstick from the thigh, placing the drumstick on a platter. Slice the thigh meat, straight down on either side of the thigh bone (you should get 4-6 slices of thigh meat), and place on the platter. Running your knife straight down each side of the breast bone, cut the breast away from the carcass. Cut around the wing, separating it from the breast. Slice the breast into six to eight even slices and place on the platter. Separate the wing tip form the wings and place on the platter. Surround the goose with the sauce and serve.