Roast Stuffed Goose with Prunes in Armagnac
There was a time when goose, rather than turkey, was the traditional family treat at Christmas. If you recall, it was the centrepiece of the famous lunch in Dickens' A Christmas Carol : 'A breathless pause as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long-expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim beat on the table with the handle of his knife and feebly cried, “Hurrah!” There never was such a goose.'When turkey began to be extensively farmed, the poor old goose was somewhat eclipsed. But in the past few years it has come back into its own and supplies are now plentiful during the Christmas period. In this recipe it is served with apples and a delicious French accompaniment of juicy prunes plumped up in Armagnac.
It has long been the custom to stuff the body and rear cavity of fowl, and with larger fowl it is not uncommon to use two different stuffing mixtures in each end – as in this recipe. The hazard of food poisoning is not in the carcass and tissue of the bird but in the contents of the gut, which nowadays are removed in a manner that does not result in contamination of the carcass. To avoid risk always include the weight of the stuffing with the bird when you calculate the cooking time.
| 1 goose with giblets, weighing 10-12 lb (4.5-5.4 kg) (reserve the liver)|
| Goose Giblet Stock (see related recipe below)|
| 55 ml (2 fl oz) wine for the gravy|
|For the apple stuffing: |
| 1½ lb (700 g) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut roughly into ½ in (1 cm) slices|
| 8 oz (225 g) ready-to-eat prunes, chopped |
| 1 large onion, roughly chopped |
| 2 tablespoons Armagnac |
| 1/8 level teaspoon ground cloves|
| ¼ level teaspoon ground mace |
| salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|For the forcemeat stuffing:|
| 1 Cox's apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped|
| 10 oz (275 g) minced pork or good-quality pork sausagemeat|
| 1 medium onion, finely chopped|
| 2 oz (50 g) fresh breadcrumbs|
| 2 level teaspoons dried sage|
| salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|For the prunes in Armagnac: |
| 12 oz (350 g) ready-to-eat prunes|
| 5 fl oz (150 ml) Armagnac|
| 1 pint (570 ml) cold tea|
| 2 oz (50 g) granulated sugar|
You can prepare the prunes in Armagnac several days in advance. Soak them overnight in the cold tea, then drain them, barely cover with water, add the sugar and simmer for 15 minutes.
Drain, sprinkle over the Armagnac, cover and leave in the fridge.
Make the apple stuffing by mixing all the ingredients together.
Make the forcemeat stuffing by mixing all the ingredients together with the reserved goose liver, finely chopped.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
Then begin by placing the forcemeat stuffing into the neck flap end of the goose, pressing it in as far as you can, tucking the neck flap all round it then patting it with your hands to make a rounded shape.
Secure the flap underneath with a small skewer. Next, place the apple stuffing in the body cavity as it is – although it looks raw and chunky, after cooking it will collapse to a fluffy mass.
Season the goose well with salt and pepper, lay it on a rack in a roasting tin, then place it in the centre of the pre-heated oven.
Give it 30 minutes' initial cooking, then reduce the temperature to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) and give it another 3 hours.
That is for an 11 lb (5 kg) goose plus stuffing: allow 15 minutes less for 10 lb (4.5 kg); 15 minutes more for 12 lb (5.4 kg).
Meanwhile, make the stock with the giblets.
When the goose is cooked the juices will run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the leg with a skewer. Remove the bird to a serving dish, snap off the wing tips and allow to rest for 20 minutes or so before serving.
Drain off the fat from the tin and make a light gravy with the giblet stock and a little wine. Heat the prunes gently in a frying pan, and stand in a warmed dish.
Give each person a little of each of the stuffings, and serve the gravy and sauce separately.
The nicest vegetable accompaniments would be some crisp roast potatoes and red cabbage.