Roast Goose with Pork, Sage and Pear Stuffing with a Confit of Pears
If your family doesn't want a turkey that goes on and on after Christmas, then I suggest you serve a goose for Christmas lunch. It has all the evocative aroma and flavour of the season but tends to almost disappear in one sitting. The confit can be made in advance.
A confit is something that has been concentrated by slow cooking, and, in this recipe, the pear halves are very slowly simmered in the balsamic vinegar and cider, so that the liquid, sugar and vinegar evaporate into a lovely, sharp-sweet, sticky mass to serve with the roast goose.
To make the confit, all you do is place all the ingredients in a wide, shallow saucepan, stir well, then bring everything up to simmering point without a lid.
Now turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let everything simmer gently, uncovered, until the pears and shallots are covered with a dark, sticky glaze. Be patient: this will take 11/4 hours, and you'll need to stir it from time to time.
This can be made well in advance and just warmed slightly before serving.
Pre-heat the oven for the goose to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
Now make up the stuffing by mixing all the ingredients together thoroughly.
Then, when you are ready to cook the goose, place three-quarters of the stuffing in the neck-flap end of the bird, pressing it in as far as you can, tucking the neck flap all round it and patting it with your hands to make a nice rounded shape. Secure the flap underneath with a small skewer or a couple of cocktail sticks.
Then pack the rest of the stuffing in the body cavity. Season the goose with salt and freshly milled black pepper, lay it on a rack in the roasting tin (no need to add fat as there will be plenty inside the goose), then place the roasting tin in the centre of the pre-heated oven.
Give it 30 minutes' cooking initially, then reduce the temperature to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C), and roast for another 3 hours for a 11 lb (5 kg) goose plus stuffing: allow 15 minutes less for a 10 lb (4.5 kg) bird; 15 minutes more for a 12 lb (5.4 kg) one.
While the goose is cooking, making up the Goose Giblet Stock for the gravy (see recipe below).
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 warmed serving dish, snap off the wing tips and allow the whole thing to rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
While that is happening, drain off the excess fat from the tin and make a light gravy with the remaining juices, adding giblet stock and white wine. Let everything come to simmering point and season well. Keep warm.
Re-heat the confit gently in a saucepan and transfer it to a warmed serving dish.
After carving the goose, give each person a little of the stuffing and serve the gravy and confit separately.