Cooking One’s Goose

The traditional English Christmas goose didn’t really make it over here on the other side of the Atlantic, chiefly because the native (and meatier) turkey prevailed. Neither did the other traditional dish of the English Christmas  season — roasted boar — with its tusked furry head, mouth filled with an apple. [That’s a pagan custom, incidentally, handed down since the Druids, or so some authors claim. We’ll delve into that one later. After all, we have until January 6th, 2010 to cover the Christmas season.]

The following recipe comes from the fourteenth century, from the court of King Richard II. I question just how the galingale and the cubebs — from West Africa — arrived so early on. Should be some fascinating stories there of migration, trade, marriage, war, and travel.


Take sawge. persel. ysope. and saueray. quinces. and peeres, garlek and Grapes. and fylle the gees therwith. and sowe the hole that no grece come out. and roost hem wel. and kepe the grece that fallith therof. take galytyne and grece and do in a possynet, whan the gees buth rosted ynowh; take an smyte hem on pecys. and that tat  is withinne and do it in a possynet and put therinne wyne if it be to thyk. do therto powdour of galyngale. powdour douce and salt and boyle the sawse and dresse the Gees in disshes and lay the sowe onoward.

(From Curye on Inglysch, 14th century English manuscript cookbook, available in reprint form, Curye on Inglysch (Middle English recipes) (Early English Text Society Supplementary Series), by C B Hieatt and S. Butler, 1985)

Goose with “Sauce Madame” (Adapted from Coquinaria, by Christianne Muusers )

1 goose, 6 to 9 pounds, dressed

Stuffing Ingredients:

2 quinces or sour apples
2 pears
2 T. chopped parsley
1 t. each of sage, hyssop and savory
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 to 30 grapes, white or red

Sauce Ingredients:

1 T. goose fat
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cups dark stock (from meat or poultry)
¼ cup dry red wine
1 T. red wine vinegar
Crumbs from 3 lightly toasted slices of bread, crusts removed
Spices to taste: 2 parts ground galingale, 1 part cinnamon, ½ part mace, ¼ part cloves, ¼ part cubebs (a type of pepper from West Africa)
Salt to taste
Neck and giblets (optional) of the goose
Stuffing from the goose

Prepare stuffing: Boil the unpeeled quinces for an hour in water. Drain and let cool. Peel quinces and pears; core them. Cut into small pieces. Mix in the chopped herbs, garlic, and peeled grapes.

Prepare galantine: Put the stock in a boiling pan, add the neck and giblets from the plastic bag. Bring to the boil, let simmer a couple of hours. Strain the stock through a fine sieve.

Baking: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Stuff the goose, secure the filling within, and place the goose on a rack on a roasting pan.

Place the goose in the oven, baste it regularly with the pan juices. When the goose is done (2 ½ – 3 ½ hours, according to the size of your goose), take it out of the oven, let it rest for about ten minutes, covered lightly with foil.

You may serve the goose in one of two ways: 1) If you serve the goose whole, dish out the stuffing and put the goose back in the oven at 200 F to keep it warm. 2) The old recipe says that the goose is to be served in pieces. Cut off legs, wings, and breast fillets. Cut the fillets in thick slices crosswise. Debone the legs and wings and the carcass.

Make the sauce: Heat some of the goose fat from the roasting pan in a sauce pan. Fry the onion in it. Add the strained stock and red wine, and the bread crumbs. Let this simmer a short while until the sauce has thickened. Now add the stuffing from the goose, spices, and wine vinegar. Bring to the boil once more. If the sauce is too thick, add wine;  if it is too thin, add bread crumbs.

To serve: Place the whole goose, or the goose meat, neatly arranged, on a decorative serving platter. Pour some of the sauce over the meat. Keep the remaining sauce in a saucier. Serve goose with plenty of bread.


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