Goose is a lovely bird for a winter dinner, but there is always that daunting feeling when cooking something expensive for the first time. It has a high bone-and-fat ratio to meat, so you need to allow at least
Avoid buying too big a bird. A bird of about
Remove the giblets from the bird. (The liver can be lightly fried in butter and eaten on toast as a treat, while you can use the neck, gizzard and heart in stock or a gravy.) Prick the bird all over with a needle, rub generously with salt and pepper then roast on a rack over a deep tin, starting it loosely covered with foil at 220°C/425°F/gas 7 for the first 15 minutes, then turning the temperature down to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Continue to cook for 15 minutes per
While the bird is roasting, make the gravy: chop up the neck, gizzard and heart, and simmer in the stock for about 2 hours, topping up with more stock or water as necessary. Season.
About 1 hour before the bird is due to come out of the oven, make the forcemeat stuffing: in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together well and then spoon the mixture into a non-stick loaf pan. Put in the oven with the bird and leave it in there when you take the bird out.
Put the goose to stand for 20 minutes before attempting to carve it, the most difficult part of the operation. Transfer to a large chopping board and first sever the legs. Cut off one breast in a single piece, then the other, reversing the bird to point the other way to make this easier. Cut through the legs at the ball-and-socket joint to separate them into drumsticks and thighs. Lay the breast pieces skin side down and cut into slices across and down at a 45 degree angle. Arrange the slices on a warmed ovenproof dish. Cut slices off the legs and arrange them, skin side up, around the breast meat. Detach the wings and cut them in half across the middle joint, slicing off what meat you can. Pick over the carcass, removing any meat that is left. Just before serving you can flash this carved meat under the grill briefly. If the skin is flaccid, this will crisp it. Turn the forcemeat stuffing out and slice it like a meat loaf.
Serve accompanied by slices of the forcemeat or black pudding, fried apple slices, potatoes roasted in goose fat, and a green vegetable. Pass the gravy separately. The carcass and bones will make lovely stock while the fat can be used for roasting or frying potatoes and for making confit of duck.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.