Your goose is cooked

Cooking In: There is no doubting the majesty of a goose when it comes out of the oven: golden, crisp skin, plump breasts and…

Cooking In:There is no doubting the majesty of a goose when it comes out of the oven: golden, crisp skin, plump breasts and meaty legs, with an almost gamey aroma wafting after it, writes Hugo Arnold

The bad news is that, despite its size, a goose offers relatively little meat. If you're cooking one for Christmas, bear in mind that a five-kilogram bird will serve eight people at the most.

Thankfully, what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in flavour, not least because geese tend to be free-range, living outside and eating grass. Good producers supplement the grass with grain, to help plump the birds up. That geese do not lend themselves to factory production is a big plus for many of us.

Another point in the goose's favour is that it has plenty of room for stuffing - some people like to use two types. Others prefer a sauce or two instead, considering the meat rich enough without a strongly flavoured filling.


What almost everyone loves, though, is the copious fat that comes off a goose when it's in the oven. It's perfect for roasting potatoes in, leaving them with a luscious, seriously comforting flavour. (All root vegetables roast deliciously in goose fat.)

Given how rich goose is, you might prefer to surround it with courses that are slightly lighter than usual. Smoked salmon is a traditional starter; a twist is to serve your salmon as gravlax. The beetroot-cured version below has a glorious colour and a delicate flavour.

You'll get equally glorious shades from our lemon-and-passion-fruit trifle - a blast of sunny colours when we need them.

Recipes serve six to eight


You need to start making this tomorrow for Christmas Day

For the gravlax:

2 750g skin-on salmon fillets (from opposite sides of the same fish if possible)
100g coarse sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large beetroot, peeled and grated
75g caster sugar

Put one fillet skin side down on a board. Combine the sea salt, pepper, beetroot and sugar and spread over the exposed flesh of the fish. Place the second fillet on top, flesh down, and wrap the entire assembly in cling film. Move to a baking sheet or tray, then put a second tray or chopping board on top, and weigh it down with, for example, a couple of tins of tomatoes. Place in the fridge and leave for two days, turning every few hours if possible. Brush off the marinade, thinly slice and serve with some of the cucumber and dill sauce.

For the sauce:

½ cucumber, peeled, cut lengthways, seeded and finely sliced
large bunch dill, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated scallions
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Japanese rice vinegar
3 tbsp creme fraiche

Toss the cucumber with a teaspoon of salt in a sieve and set aside for 10 minutes. Rinse in plenty of cold water, squeeze dry and combine with the dill, scallions, mustard, rice vinegar and creme fraiche. Check seasoning. Serve with the gravlax.


1 5kg goose
2 onions, roughly chopped
small bunch sage
small bunch rosemary

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas six. Season the inside of the goose with salt and pepper, then stuff with the onions, sage and rosemary. Sit the goose on a rack in a roasting tin. As the goose roasts, the tin will fill with fat, which you should pour off and reserve. (If you want the skin to be extra shiny, baste occasionally with a mixture of equal quantities of honey and white-wine vinegar.)

Allow three and a half hours for a five-kilogram goose to cook. To check it's done, pierce the thickest part of the thigh; clear juices will indicate it is cooked. Allow to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 20 minutes; 30 is better.


the goose giblets (but not the liver, which you should fry and eat by itself)
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
2 leeks, roughly chopped
olive oil
2 tbsp brandy
1 glass Madeira
350ml good chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas six. Combine the giblets with the vegetables in a roasting pan. Toss in two tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, pour in the brandy and set it alight. Allow to burn for a few seconds, then pour in the Madeira. Place over a low heat and scrape up any bits adhering to the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes, or until reduced by half. It is easier to do this if you transfer all the ingredients to a saucepan once you have scraped everything from the roasting pan. Remove any fat, check seasoning and serve.


2 quinces, peeled, cored and diced
500g eating apples, peeled, cored and diced
juice of 1 Seville orange
1 tsp honey

Toss the quinces and apples in the juice from the Seville orange. Add three tablespoons of water and the honey. Cover and simmer until just collapsing. Season with salt and pepper.


50g butter
2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely diced
3 leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
200g fresh white breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
50g Parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
16 slices pancetta

Heat the butter and gently soften the celery and leeks for five minutes, without colouring. Stir in the thyme leaves and allow to cool.

Stir in the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley and Parmesan. Mix well, check seasoning and whisk in the beaten egg. Shape into eight sausages, then wrap each one in two slices of pancetta. Put in a shallow, lightly oiled roasting tin, positioned so the ends of the pancetta are underneath. You can do all this in advance and keep chilled until ready to cook.

Bake in a preheated oven, at 200 degrees/gas six, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


750ml double cream
300ml full-fat milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
zest of 2 lemons
8 egg yolks
50g sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
250g sponge cake or muffins, gently broken up
4 tbsp Drambuie
4 tbsp good lemon curd
8 ripe passion fruits
50g caster sugar
75ml fino sherry

Combine 250ml of the cream, all the milk, the vanilla pod and the zest from one of the lemons in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Strain.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour, then pour in the infused milk and cream. Return to a low heat and cook, stirring continuously, until thick. Take care: if you heat it too much the eggs will scramble. Pour into a cool bowl and set aside.

Put the sponge cake in the bottom of a glass bowl and sprinkle with the Drambuie. Top with the lemon curd and the passion fruit, scooped from the skins. Spoon in the cold custard and refrigerate.

Before serving, whisk the remaining 500ml of double cream with the sugar, the remaining lemon zest and the sherry until soft and fluffy and just holding its shape. Spoon over the other ingredients and serve.