Michaelmas Goose

The tenant farmers and cottagers on large estates generally brought a present when they came to pay their rents on quarter-days. At the September quarter, geese were at their best. A “green goose” had grazed on pasture all summer and a “stubble goose” had been fattened additionally by grazing in the harvested wheat or barley fields.

Gervase Markham, in 1676, said that a green goose should have a sauce of sorrel and sugar mixed with a few scalded bilberries and should be served on strips of toast. But a stubble goose could have various sauces of apple, onions or barberries. (Barberries are the rather hard, sharp berries of the berberis and were used frequently until the eighteenth century.)

A Michaelmas goose was much less fat than a Christmas goose and did not need pricking. A goose as sold today requires pricking no matter when it is bought.

Ingredients

  • 1 goose, 8 to 11 lb (4 to 5 kg)
  • Seasoned flour
  • ¾ stick (90 g) butter, for roasting
  • Apple sauce
  • Raisins
  • Lemon juice

The Stuffing

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • cup finely chopped sage
  • 1 cup (120 g) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • The goose liver, poached in salted water for 20 minutes and chopped finely
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper

Method

First make the stuffing by mixing all the ingredients together.

Stuff and truss the goose. Lightly rub the bird with seasoned flour, dot with butter and place in a greased roasting tin. Put in a 400°F (200°C, Gas Mark 6) oven for 30 minutes. Remove the bird from the oven and with a skewer lightly prick along the thighs and the sides of the breast. Do not prick the flesh but only the skin.

Put the bird back in the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C, Gas Mark 4). After 30 minutes remove the bird again, baste it, then pour away three-quarters of the fat accumulated in the pan. Prick the goose again and return to the oven for 1 hour if the bird weighs 8 to 9 pounds (4 kg), or for 1½ hours if it is 9 to 11 pounds (5 kg). If the breast is becoming too brown, cover it lightly with foil.

Serve with the apple sauce into which about 20 raisins and some lemon juice have been stirred.

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