Pumpkin pie is probably the best thing I’d never had. A lot of American food was sweeter than I was used to, but the surprising savory snap to this pie made me fall in love with it at first bite. I’ve never made it myself I’m sure I’d be tempted to trick it out with unusual spices and, to my (American) husband’s chagrin, turn it into a genuinely savory and spicy dish. In deference to my husband and his family, I leave well alone and go to my local bakery.
Sacrilegious though it may be to say so, it’s the turkey the unwieldy, gargantuan beasts that never seem to taste of much at all, until they’re overcooked, at which point they taste like slightly meaty cotton. Yes, turkeys are often served up at the Christmas table in England, but the bird of choice in the Trickett household was always a goose, or a duck or two. Roasted goose is possibly one of the most decadent tastes ever; marred only by my fathers’ insistence of keeping the goose fat to rub on his chest when the weather turned chilly. (Which, in England, means a toasty 50 degrees or so.) Neighborhood dogs would follow him around, slavering.
How do you incorporate your childhood favorites into the holidays?
I’m a Christmas pudding freak.cheapgoose It’s hard to describe imagine a steamed, highly alcoholic fruit cake that’s moist and sticky and gets you drunk just to smell it. Despite all the booze cooked into it, you serve it by pouring on even more rum or brandy and setting it on fire. You’re supposed to make the puddings a few weeks ahead of eating, so I’ve picked the day after Thanksgiving for my thoroughly British custom. Everyone who’s in the house at the time gets to stir the bowl and make a wish, and as the puddings steam for their mandatory eight hours, the smell wafts through the house and makes me hum Christmas carols, while everyone else is swinging handbags and elbows in the Black Friday sales.
What goes into a Christmas pudding?
What doesn’t? There are 19 ingredients in the recipe I use, and of course some of the more obscure ones are only available in large packages, yet used in small quantities, so you end up with a cupboard full of currants and candied peel.
The hardest ingredient to source is suet. I’m used to it dried, in a packet, but you can’t get that in the US. You have to buy it fresh; it’s the pearly white fat that surrounds a cow’s kidneys, and it’s not terribly pleasant to handle. One Thanksgiving I was in Houston, and went to a butcher downtown. “I’d like some suet, please,” I asked. The butcher looked incredulous, and said, “you sure?” Smiling, I said, “yes, I’m going to make my Christmas puddings tomorrow,” hoping he’d find my accent cute. He just stared, and eventually drawled, “You’re gonna make dessert with that?”
Have you wooed any of your American guests with a British favorite dish or drink?
My husband’s family are surprisingly fond of the Christmas pudding (or so they tell me). As for drinks, my parents used to invite friends and neighbors over on Christmas morning for a White Lady cocktail (or six). It’s two parts gin to one part each of Cointreau and lemon juice. My mother would keep putting her glass down to answer the door or fix someone a drink, lose track of it, and so pour another. By the end of the morning, there were at least twice as many glasses lying around than there were guests, and it was probably the only time in the year I didn’t mind tidying up after our company had left. I’ve since served White Ladies here on Christmas day; my American family loved it but, unused to gin before noon, Christmas dinner was rather late that year.
What do you miss most about England this time of year?
Old fashioned Christmas carols on the radio sung by proper choirboys (rather than the 99th hearing that week of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas”), Marks Spencer mince pies with brandy butter, and the inevitable Christmas Day rain. OK, I don’t miss the rain.
But like Long Island duck, goose contains a great deal of fat, and this can make the stuffing rather greasy. I cannot imagine serving Christmas goose without stuffing, however. So I found a way to prepare this bird that not only eliminates much of the fat but also makes the flesh particularly tender and moist and the skin very crisp.
Many years ago, I read a recipe by Marcella Hazan in which she used a hair dryer on a duck to help get rid of the fat. The heat opened up the pores, and the fat dripped out. She then simmered the duck briefly in water to get rid of more fat before roasting it in the oven.
I eventually got tired of fiddling with a hair dryer, and instead I steamed the duck on the top of the stove before roasting it in the oven. This Chinese inspired method worked beautifully and, as I discovered, it works with goose Julia Child also recommends it in her book, “The Way to Cook” (Knopf).
Save the rendered goose fat. I skim it off and store it in the freezer to use for roasting potatoes or for duck or goose confit. (If you want to make the best roast chicken you have ever had, spread goose fat over the skin before you roast it).
Roast Christmas Goose
Total time: 3 hours
1 8 to 10 pound goose
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.
For the stock:
Giblets, neck and wing tips of the goose
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Herb bouquet (thyme, parsley and bay leaf tied in cheesecloth)
1 cup dry white wine.
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup port
3 tablespoons red currant jelly
Lemon juice to taste
Chopped parsley to garnish.
1. Remove excess fat from goose cavity. Cut off the wing tips. Rub the goose with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Tie the legs together. Prick the skin of the goose all over lightly (without piercing the flesh underneath) with a skewer or darning needle. This will help the fat escape.
2. Place the goose, breast up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour in a couple of inches of water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Turn down the heat and steam the goose for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on its size. If the water boils off, add a little more hot water.
3. Make the stock. Simmer the gizzard, heart, neck and wing tips with the onion, carrot, celery and herb bouquet in lightly salted water to cover for two hours.http://www.cheapgoose.top Strain and put in the freezer while the goose roasts (this will help solidify the fat quickly and it can be easily removed).
4. Remove the goose from the steamer and cool it. Save the liquid from the roaster. Stuff the goose (see below).
5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the goose, breast down, on a roasting rack and place the stock vegetables around the goose with the white wine and a cup of goose steaming liquid. Cover and braise for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the weight of the goose. Baste from time to time, and if necessary, add more steaming liquid.
6. Turn the goose breast up and brown it for 30 minutes, uncovered. Put it on a serving platter and let it rest in the oven with the door open.
7. Make the sauce. Pour the fat from the roasting pan and stir in the cornstarch, blending it first to a smooth paste with a little water. Cook for two minutes, scraping up the juices, then add the port. Bring to a boil and add the stock. Stir well and simmer until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the spoon (about five minutes). Stir in the red currant jelly and add a little lemon juice if necessary. Correct seasoning and serve in a heated sauceboat, sprinkled with parsley.