Thanksgiving means turkey.
Easter means ham.
And Christmas means….?
Many Americans default to turkey again for Christmas, but we sometimes find it uninspiring to cook basically the same big meal twice within the same month.
This year our friend, Jonathan, raised several different kinds of fowl, and offered us one of his geese. We jumped at the chance. Geese are the definitive northern European Christmas main course, (think Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,”) but are increasingly hard to find in the U.S. Goose meat is very dark and rich, like duck, and can be hard to digest if not cooked correctly. The main goal in cooking goose is to be sure that as much of the fat is drained off as possible, without overcooking resulting in tough meat. (And being sure to reserve the fat, as it’s the preferred fat by most chefs for cooking potatoes.)
We’d never cooked a goose before, and had a little difficulty finding a cooking method that was specific to goose, and not just fowl in general. Because there is so much fat under the skin of geese, it’s often difficult to satisfactorily brown the skin.
That’s when, quite by accident, we stumbled across Fanny Cradock’s method for cooking geese.
We first learned about Fanny Cradock several years ago and fell in love. In that same way that one loves a crotchety old aunt. Cradock was an English cook who rose to fame during the 1950′s and 60′s, and had a rather in inglorious fall from grace in the early 1970′s. She was perhaps the first television “celebrity chef,” – a cross between Martha Stewart, Julia Child, and Cruella Deville. Not exactly the motherly sort. Her chilled salads were usually warmer than her demeanor.
Fanny’s downfall came during a television show in which she ridiculed a poor English housewife who’d won a cooking contest to create a meal for a minor royal. Cradock insulted the woman’s simple pudding dessert to such a degree on national television that viewer outrage caused the BBC to remove her shows from the air. She was rarely seen on television ever again, and died penniless and living in squalor in 1994.
But Fanny knew how to cook a goose. She knew how to get the fat to drain away, and used honey to ensure a brown, crisp skin. (We used our own Rosemary Creamed Honey.) So thank you Fanny, and Merry Christmas. You may have cooked your own goose, but you cooked ours too. And it was delicious.
Watch Fanny in action, causing multiple stab wounds:
Beekman-Cradock Roast Goose
1 approx 12lb goose
3/4 cup Beekman 1802 Rosemary Honey (or any chosen honey)
Stab goose skin repeatedly until well perforated all over.
Rub skin with honey.
Place on roasting rack over very deep roasting fan filled with 1/2 inch of water (to keep fat from burning.) The goose will release a great deal of fat, so it is important to continually monitor during entire roasting process, removing excess fat from pan if necessary to prevent spilling over and catching fire in the oven.
Place in 400 oven for approx 30 minutes or until skin is browned (This can happen quite quickly with the honey glaze. Check frequently to avoid burning.)
Reduce heat to 325 and continue cooking for 90 minutes -to- two 1/2 hours, or until temperature in thickest part of meat is 170-180F.
Allow to sit 15 minutes before carving.