Tired of turkey? Try this Christmas goose dinner

Two chefs reveal old-school dishes they love, and a sommelier Christmas wine tips

Garry Hughes, executive chef at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

Garry Hughes, executive chef at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

 

Garry Hughes

Executive chef, The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

What will Christmas look like for you this year?
I’ll spend the morning in the hotel overseeing breakfast and lunch for 300 guests and then return home to Susan and the kids to finish off the dinner.

What traditional Christmas foods would you love to make a comeback?
People strayed from goose because they worry it’ll be tough, but that’s not a problem if you brine the bird for an hour beforehand.

Are there any you’d like to banish?
Traditionally, people would cook a turkey to within an inch of its life and then struggle to get through it. We made the leap to roast beef for the last two Christmases, because we found the kids didn’t eat the big bird.

What other festive flavours do you look forward to every year?
I still bake a ham for the kids. We have it on crusty sourdough with homemade onion and sage stuffing on Stephen’s Day morning. That’s our family Christmas.

Have you any professional tips for taking the stress out of Christmas cooking?
Last year, I knew I had to work Christmas Day so we did all the prep the day before so that by Christmas morning, all Sue had to do was pop the beef in the oven. Christmas day should be about spending time with your loved ones.

Mike Tweedie

Head chef, The Oakroom, Adare Manor, Limerick

What will Christmas look like for you this year?
This year will be the first Christmas I’ll be have been home in Devon for eight or nine years. Mum will cook dinner with the traditional turkey and Christmas pudding.

What Christmas food traditions are non-negotiable for you?
Pigs in blanket is a big one for me (pork sausage wrapped in bacon and cooked in the oven), a good pork meat stuffing, and a proper turkey gravy.

What traditional Christmas foods would you love to see make a comeback?
Desserts like trifle, lemon tart and lemon meringue pie, which has always been a tradition in our family. I’d eat it straight out of the flan dish if I was let!

Are there any you’d like to banish?
I’ve never liked Christmas pudding – but I do love Brussels sprouts, especially finished with bacon and hazelnuts or walnuts.

What other festive flavours do you look forward to every year?
I look forward to a nice stew and dumplings in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – something that you can cook up and will keep well.

Nisea Doddy

Sommelier, The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

Nisea Doddy, sommelier at The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.
Nisea Doddy, sommelier at The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

What will Christmas look like for you this year?
This year will be an extended family Christmas between two houses with me as the cook in one and commis in the other.

What will you be eating and drinking on the day?
I’ll cook goose at home with sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing and I have carefully hidden a bottle of Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 for the occasion: a total luxury – it’s earthy but full of cherry, cassis and supple tannins.

What style of wine do you recommend for Christmas drinking?
Christmas is the time to break out those special bottles, though nothing too heavy or tannic. There is so much richness and the sheer amount of food knocking about, so freshness and good, balanced acidity are the key in both reds and whites.

When do you recommend popping the cork on some bubbles?
At The Shelbourne, we sabrage Champagne every Friday evening at 18.24, as our ‘start the weekend’ ritual. Likewise, Champagne should be the first wine of the day on Christmas Day. I prefer to serve Champagne in a white wine glass rather than a flute, just to really get all the lovely aromas and bubble on your nose.

GARRY HUGHES’S CHRISTMAS GOOSE

Serves four

The secret to the perfect goose is to brine the bird in order to soften the meat. Ask your butcher to remove the wishbone and gizzards to assist with the carving.

Ingredients
4.5-5kg goose
2tbsp coarse rock salt
3 mandarin oranges, halved with skin on
2 generous sprigs of rosemary
2 bulbs of garlic, cloves split in half
3 carrots, peeled and cut into lengths
2 onions, peeled and halved
2 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into lengths
6-8 Rooster potatoes, peeled and halved lengthway

For the glaze
1 litre orange juice
½ litre lemon juice
250g honey
2 dessertspoons five spice

For the brine
3 litres water
½ litre bourbon whiskey
300g salt
300g sugar
300g maple syrup

For the gravy
700ml red wine
500ml chicken stock

Method
1. Remove the wings of the goose and set aside. Remove the wishbone and gizzards (or ask your butcher to do this) and wash out the cavity with some salt and water.

2. Bring the brine solution to the boil in a pot large enough to fit the goose. Let the mixture go cold and then lower the goose into the pot to fully immerse it. Remove after two hours and wash off the solution.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Season the goose with coarse rock salt, and stuff the core with mandarin oranges, rosemary and lots of garlic.

4. Cover the base of a large baking tray with the prepared carrot, onion, celery, halved Rooster potatoes and goose wings, and then sit the seasoned goose on top to allow the vegetables to cook in the bird’s juices. Roast at 180 Celsius for 10 minutes.

5. Reduce the citrus juice, honey and five spice in a saucepan into a sticky glaze. This will take an hour.

6. Take the goose out of the oven, remove the excess grease from the baking tray, brush the goose generously with the glaze and return to the oven. Roast for another 80 minutes at 180 Celsius (reduce heat if needed), regularly basting the goose with the glaze. 

7. Remove the goose from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, increase the oven to 220 Celsius and finish cooking the vegetables until the potatoes are crispy, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside the potatoes somewhere warm.

8. To make the gravy, deglaze the tray with all the vegetables, pour in a bottle of red wine and add 500ml chicken stock, then reduce for a few minutes over a high heat.

9. Serve the goose with creamy mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a glass of white wine.

MIKE’S MUM’S STEPHEN’S DAY BAKED LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Serves 6-9
This is one my fondest memories that I can remember from my childhood Christmases. Mum would always smash out a selection of homemade desserts like trifle, banoffee pie, Christmas pud and apple and blackberry crumble for Christmas Day and Stephen’s Day, but this one always stood out to me. She would always prepare the base and curd the day before to make her life a little bit easier – after all she was cooking for my dad, grandparents and my sister, three brothers and me!

You’ll need a 23cm fluted ceramic tart/flan dish, about 4cm deep.

Ingredients
For the base
80g melted butter
30g Demerara or soft brown sugar
180g digestive biscuits, finely crushed

For the lemon curd filling
1 tin full-fat, sweetened condensed milk
4 medium egg yolks
Finely grated zest and juice of 3 large or 4 small lemons

For the meringue
4 egg whites
190g caster sugar

Method
1. To make the base, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in sugar and crushed biscuits. Push the mixture into the flan base, using a large spoon to make sure it’s compact and evenly spread out. Refrigerate until needed.

2. To make the lemon curd filling, pour the condensed milk into a bowl and beat in the yolks, lemon zest and strained juice. The mixture might look thick but once you stir, it will loosen up. This can be stored in a Tupperware container and refrigerated until needed.

3. Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Pour the lemon curd into the biscuit-lined flan dish.

4. To make the meringue topping, place the egg whites into a very clean and dry bowl and whisk the whites with an electric mixer or balloon whisk until they look like clouds. Keeping the whisk on at a medium speed, start adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time, and once all the sugar is added, whisk on full speed to fully incorporate.

5. Spoon the meringue over the surface of the curd in separated blobs, making sure that the edges of flan dish are covered. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for an hour or until the curd is set. You can serve this room-temperature warm, or cold from the fridge.

GARRY’S PERFECT CHEESEBOARD

Taking inspiration from The Shelbourne’s wonderful cheese trolley, here are Garry’s tips for creating a perfect cheeseboard.

What to serve
Choose three or four different styles of cheese for contrast.

I’m a huge blue cheese fan, it’ll always be on the cheeseboard at home and I particularly love a Bellingham Blue, but if you want a nice Irish Blue that isn’t too strong, try a Cashel Blue.

Then contrast that with a good hard cheese – I like a smoked Knockanore.

For a semi-soft cheese, I love Gubbeen washed rind cheese from Schull.

At home, we also love the baked cheeses that you can get in Aldi or Lidl or Marks & Spencer – the smell that a baked Camembert brings into your kitchen is amazing and my kids really love it.

How to serve it
Be sure to take the cheese out of the fridge 90 minutes before you plan to use it.

The Camembert can be popped in a hot oven for five or 10 minutes before serving.

What to serve it with
Personally, I prefer to serve cheese with lots of nice crusty sourdough rather than crackers.

For something sweet and sharp to contrast the cheese, I like to make up a plum and pear chutney, but there are lots of great shop-bought condiments too.

Consider garnishing with some fresh apple and antipasti-style preserved artichoke for extra contrast of texture and flavours.

NISEA’S CHRISTMAS WINE RECOMMENDATIONS

For the main meal With both goose and turkey and the ham, stuffing, sprouts, roasties, bread sauce, cranberry sauce (and the rest!), I would suggest choosing from the four following wine styles:

Full-bodied oaked whites As a real treat, try Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze 2015 – precision in a glass, rounded, touched with honey, apple underpinned with citrus. Green Man Wines, €44.95

Aromatic and textured whites Try Robert Weil Riesling Trocken 2015 from the Rheingau – simply glorious aromatic apple and pear with a crisp, clean, refreshing finish. O’Briens, €21.95. 

Also Ayler Riesling Kabinett 2017. Wines on the Green, €19.99

Light- to medium-bodied reds Regnaudot Bourgogne Pinot 2016 is chock-full of cherries and red berries, juicy, balanced and mouthwatering, made for roast goose. The Corkscrew, €23.95

Also from Corkscrew, Dog Point Pinot Marlborough 2014 (€42.95) is a more intense take on Pinot with smokiness and spicy oak packed too with red fruit.

Mature reds with supple, well-integrated tannins Something like a mature Brunello di Montalcino will be a wonderful match. If you have something special that you’ve been hanging onto – and especially if it’s just the two of you – crack it open; the key is the suppleness of the tannins, and hopefully the fruit is still obvious.

For the cheeseboard When you have a cheeseboard with a range of flavours, from a salty blue through smoky and soft to a baked Camembert, it’s best to opt for a wine pairing that will stand up to the most robust of the cheeses while not overpowering the others too much.

I love tawny port with blue cheese, especially Warres Otima (widely available, €24.99) with its nutty with raisiny, honeyed notes– just be sure to serve it cool.

If you prefer ruby port, Niepoort LBV (The Corkscrew, €14.95 for half bottle) has rich, damson fruit flavours and gentle spice, and is great with salty blues.

If you go for a serious power-cheese like Époisses, stay with a rich and oaky powerhouse of a white wine: something like Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay from Margaret River (wineonline.ie, €72) which is complex, with notes of ripe pear and creamy almond and a vibrant fresh mineral finish – or try the Rustenberg Chardonnay 2017 from Stellenbosch (Whelehans Wines, €24) for a more affordable alternative.

For dessert I had an aunt who would eat homemade Christmas pudding sprinkled with salt and a glass of ruby port on the side– the Niepoort LBV in particular is a great match for pudding.

On the other hand, something like that lemon meringue pie is crying out for Champagne! Champagne has both citrus and toastiness, which will match the crunchy base and filling but cut through the sweetness of the meringue.