Have a go at goose for a seasonal treat

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It's the most traditional of Christmas meats but goose has been off the menu for most people ever since turkey seized the festive top spot.

Now it's making a comeback as more people look for something a little different for their Christmas dinner.

'People are becoming more aware of their food and want to try new things, partly thanks to the telly chefs. And they know they can buy it from the person who reared it from day one and get a good result from a well-treated bird,' says Eddie Hegarty, chairman of British Goose Producers.

But when catering for friends and family it's tempting to stick to the tried and tested.

Many people may have enjoyed goose in restaurants but having a go at home is entirely different. And will guests like it?

'The meat itself is a lovely rich dark meat. It's the fillet steak of the poultry world. With goose, it's about quality not quantity. You wouldn't want to eat a lot of it. It's such a succulent meat,' says Eddie.

He says buying from a farm or local producer is a good idea as the quality tends to be higher, the products are free range and most producers can offer cooking advice and recipe ideas.

Other products to look out for are goose fat – increasingly available on shop shelves and perfect for roasting – and goose eggs, available from February to July.

Cooking a goose

You will need a large, deep meat tin with a trivet or rack if possible, foil, salt and pepper and the stuffing of your choice.

To store, remove the giblets and the body cavity fat. Store the giblets and the goose separately in the fridge. Frozen birds must be allowed to thaw thoroughly before cooking, follow instructions. To roast, allow 15 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 20 minutes. Approximate time: 4.50kg/10lb = 3 hours 5.40kg/12lb = 3.5 hours. Oven 200oC/400oF/Gas mark 6/Aga top right hand oven.

Method – roast goose

Place the giblets in 2.2 litres/4 pints of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for approx one hour with the lid on. Strain and thicken the stock to make the gravy. Prick the skin, rub salt and pepper over the skin. Stuff the goose with your favourite stuffing, or as an alternative fill the body cavity with chopped apple and herbs of your choice and cook the stuffing separately in a dish. To prevent burning, wrap legs in foil and also cover with some of the fat. Place the goose on a trivet or rack in the meat tin, breast side up. Cover meat tin with foil and place in pre-heated oven. After the first hour baste the goose and make sure the legs are still covered and that the skin is not burning. Pour off surplus fat into a container. For the last half to three quarters of an hour uncover the breast to brown and baste again, pouring off the surplus fat. When cooked place the goose on a carving dish to rest for approx 20 minutes before carving. Cover with foil. Carving Sever the legs at the thigh joints (under the back). When carving, angle the blade of the knife at 90o to the breast bone.

Make a tasty stuffing

Apple and walnut stuffing 178g/6oz breadcrumbs 2 peeled and chopped red apples 1 peeled and chopped onion 55g/2oz walnuts Bunch mixed herbs chopped 1 egg to bind salt and pepper

Fry the onion and apple together and mix with the other ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 180oC/ 350oF/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes.

Recipe and tips from British Goose Producers at geese.cc