Although Christmas has come and gone for another year, perhaps home cooks have made notes for next year’s festive lunch or dinner.
I certainly have. For the first time, our household had a hassle-free Christmas Day dinner.
Here’s how we did it.
Vegetables and Chef Mike
We cooked most of our vegetables — sprouts and carrots — on Christmas Eve.
This meant that we reduced Christmas Day washing up by a third. Those pots and pans were out of the way. Reheating involved employing Chef Mike — the microwave. Others might prefer using the oven.
On Christmas Day, the only things I needed to do were to prepare parsnips and potatoes for roasting.
Roast potatoes and parsnips
As a parboiling substitute for the potatoes, I put Chef Mike to work.
After washing and drying two or three medium-sized potatoes, cut lengthwise down each potato — 1/4″ or 1/2 cm deep — to allow steam to escape in the microwave. Microwave them for five minutes then let them cool thoroughly on a chopping board before peeling.
Put a tablespoon of goose fat in a small roasting tin and let that heat for five minutes at 180°C (350°F). By this time, the roast goose should be out of the oven and resting on the carving tray.
Whilst the fat is heating, peel the potatoes. To get rough edges that crisp in the oven, break each potato in half rather than cut it.
I also had another small roasting tin with 1 tablespoon of goose fat heating at the same time for the parsnips, which I peeled shortly beforehand to prevent them from going brown.
Large parsnips can be cut lengthwise into quarters. Smaller ones can be left whole, but cut the thin ends off, because these can overcook and burn.
Potatoes and parsnips take the same amount of time to roast — approximately 20 minutes.
This year, I did two things which made the goose easy to carve.
Before I put it in brine — see ‘Roast goose — reduce cooking time with brine‘ — I broke the legs and removed the wings.
Breaking the legs properly will leave them on the carcass, skin intact.
To remove the wings, I used sturdy kitchen scissors. This took five minutes per wing. When cutting through the skin, I left a flap approximately 2″ or 5 cm long that I placed over the gap where the wing was. I secured this to the carcass with a sturdy poultry lacer pin. (When it came time to roast, this worked amazingly well with no loss of meat juice.)
I then poured boiling water over the goose, dried the bird and put it in brine. Afterwards, I dried the goose and let it sit on a rack in the roasting tin overnight. Our kitchen is cool at this time of year, so I left the bird on the counter top.
Using the brine method reduced cooking time by half, once again.
Removing the wings and breaking the legs made carving very easy.
Goose wings = great stock
After removing the goose wings, I put them in the stock pot to caramelise in a tablespoon of goose fat along with the neck and the giblets.
Sear everything, add just enough water to cover, then bring them to the boil. Season the liquid with salt and pepper then simmer it for two to three hours.
I left the stock, with the wings and giblets in it, to cool overnight. This made an excellent base for Christmas Day gravy.
The same method can be used with turkey, another unwieldy bird!