For those bent on tradition, here is a recipe for
1 CUP PITTED PRUNES
1 CUP BRANDY or VIN SANTO
1 STICK UNSALTED BUTTER
1 ½ CUPS ONION – minced
10 – 12 LB GOOSE – preferably dead!
1/3 CUP RUBY PORT
1 LB GROUND PORK – not very lean
2 EGGS – large, lightly beaten
GENEROUS PINCH OF ALLSPICE
2 GARLIC CLOVES – minced
1 LB CHESTNUTS – cooked, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 TSP THYME
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
3 CUPS CHICKEN STOCK
PREHEAT OVEN TO 425º.
In a small bowl, cover the prunes with the brandy or Vin Santo and let stand for 30 minutes. Reserve the juice but strain and coarsely chop the prunes.
In a skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the minced onions and cook over moderate heat, occasionally stirring, until they have softened – 5 minutes. Add the port to the skillet and boil, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet, until almost evaporated.
Scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle and let cool slightly. Add the ground pork, eggs, all spice, thyme, and garlic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Beat the stuffing at low speed until all well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally while beating. Stir in the chestnuts and the prunes.
In the preheated oven set a rack in a roasting pan. Season the goose cavity well with salt and fill in the stuffing and secure the cavity with toothpicks or wooden skewers. Using a sharp knife, prick the skin all over. Truss the goose and set it breast side up on the rack. Roast for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350º and continue roasting for 3 ½ hours. Test for doneness with a thermometer inserted into the stuffing. If done, it should read 160º. Test at the thigh and it should read 165º. While roasting, baste the breast with ½ cup of hot water every 15-20 minutes. When the goose registers as done, remove to a carving board and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the pan juices into a measuring cup and skim off the fat. Return the juices to the pan, add the reserved prune liquid and the stock. Boil the sauce, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Continue boiling util the sauce has thickened – 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the remining butter and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Remove the stuffing from the cavity and spoon into a serving dish. Carve the goose and serve with the stuffing and the sauce on the side.
The Story Behind the Christmas Goose
ADAPTED FROM A STORY BY JUSTINE STERLING
it’s a prized turkey that Scrooge sends an urchin to buy at the end of A Christmas Carol, goose was the original centerpiece on the Cratchit’s menu. As shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Present: “There never was such a goose…Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness were the themes of universal admiration.” The modern day American family will sit down to a meal of varied traditional things this Christmas, but goose remains the traditional Christmas meat of choice for many and was long before Dickens wrote of its succulence!