Goose, we have goose. As it happens though maybe you can all settle an office debate from yesterday.
Fellow residents of Great Britain;
Yorkshire puds with Xmas dinner. Yes or no?
Boozing in the morning, blazing family rows in the afternoon, and passing out in front of the telly – trousers unbuttoned – by 5pm. All of these are annual traditions of Christmas but when it comes to dinner, what makes the perfect festive nosh? Everyone has their own take on Yuletide overindulgence, and inevitably something …
@rmason "We bang them in the oven while the meat is resting"
I usually take the meat out and put it in a cool box to rest, so it stays piping hot, then I can fill the oven up with roasties, parsnips, yorkies and probably some dauphinoise spuds. As for the chap saying there isn't room for yorkies,... who says it all has to go on your plate at the same time? I'll often have a round two and have a different selection of veg. I mean, if it all fits on, clearly you've skimped on the veg. :- )
You're right. Food engineering is an underrated skill.
For example, when eating bangers mash 'n' beans it is vital that none of the bean juices should be allowed to contaminate the lovely, buttery mash! So you have to build a damn of sausages, to hold back the bean lake. But of course you then need to start eating your sausage-dam - it's a very delicate bit of work.
This becomes even more important work when tackling sausage and chips, where the crispiness of the chips cannot be allowed to be compromised! And worse, you need a clear space on the plate for some ketchup to dip your chips into.
However, I prefer my yorkshires to hit my mouth while still crispy. So I tend to prop them precariously on an altar of roast potatoes, keeping them high and dry. Then I cut my brussels in half, to allow them to be dunked face down in the gray, giving them a chance to absorb a bit before consumption.
Christmas eve or Christmas Day lunch/dinner? These are different.
The traditional fare for the Xmas dinner is fish and to be more exact freshwater fish if possible. The meat festivities in theory should start the next day.
The switch to meat on Xmas eve is a protestant thing (just to make a point and p*ss off the Catholics). It also became something of a necessity as most of the freshwater fish went extinct or seriously toxic in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries.
So if you know how to get your mitts on a carp and how to cook it the right choice for Xmas eve oven is Carp (we should thank the Polish for it reappearing on the supermarket fish counters at Xmas). Goose or Duck comes the day after - to complete the clogging of the arteries.
We don't do it for reasons of tradition etc.
We do it because we both love goose and prefer it to turkey.
Don't fret though, we have a turkey too. Some of the guests prefer it to goose, and I prefer to cook one because I thoroughly enjoy it on sandwiches and in soup and pie.
The goose is brilliant, but there's never much to speak of by way of leftovers. So for that and for the odd picky guest, I always do a turkey too.
1 pine board
fresh carp, 14 to 20 ",long
spices, of choice
Scale and rinse fish well.
Cut in 1/2 and place on pine board.
Add your favorite spices.
Bake at 340* for 90 minutes.
Remove from oven, throw carp away.
Serve board with or without tarter sauce.
Up-vote for the goose, once you've tried it the idea of going back to a dry tasteless turkey is just soul destroying. Plus you get all that lovely fat for the roast potatoes.
Haven't tried Yorkshire puds with Christmas dinner before, but I can see the attraction, might try and work it in this year as a trial. After all if you're not willing to experiment you could end up stuck with turkey every year <shudder>.
If you know how to cook turkey & have a decent oven & a good turkey (fresh, not frozen, outdoor reared so decent flesh quality) then Turkey can be moist & well flavoured but it's easy to badly screw up (a few tips from my local butcher sorted me out, until then my turkey cooking had been very hit or miss on the "dryness" front)
Goose is far easier to cook as its much less prone to going dry.
Yorkshire puds are mandatory for all "meat & veg" meals (including "trad" Xmas meal)
Sprouts are an individual choice, my sprout choice is NNNNOOOOO!
These days alas it's nut roast, non proper gravy, & roast veg done in veg oils as my Xmas meal will be spent with veggies and vegans :-(
On the plus side, as no meat involved, then I am absolved of any cooking duties so no need for sobriety
Total agree. Freshly-slaughtered turkey is world of difference from the high-street muck. Smothered with cured bacon.
Goose-fat roast potatoes
Self-caramelised carrots and parsnips
Small amount of Brussel sprouts, 'cos you have to .. tradition innit?
Fresh beans or mangetout plus peas
After many years of disappointments - Debbie and Andrew's chipolata sausages
Home-made Gravy with giblets etc (none of this Bisto stuff) , bread sauce, redcurrant jelly, home-made cranberry and Madeira and brandy and port sauce (teenagers start to get squiffy).
Fortnum's Beer & Chilli Mustard plus various Trucklement pickles. You have not lived until you have tried their Beer & Chilli Mustard.
Fortnum's "King George" Christmas Pudding - tradition with silver thruppennies. Prizes given for broken teeth.
+1/4 bottle of brandy to ignite (more tradishun)
brandy butter and brandy cream (steady now) with Cinnamon ice-cream.
Plus various chocolate additions, Christmas crackers, teenagers with grudges that have built up over the past year ("Dad gave you first serving last year, It is sooo not fair!")
Since I have been up since well before 8 am doing the entire feast, in order that El Hefe can have lock the bedroom against said marauding teenagers and she can have several more hours sleep, I tend to be in a state of collapse around 2 hours after HM Queen's speech and wake up just in time to:
1) Get the replay of HM Queen's speech
2) Realise that there is no Cognac left
3) Realise that there is no wine left and I will have to go down to the cellar
4) It's that or Drambuie.
5) Drink glass of Drambuie. Open bottle-shaped Christmas present from my parents and realise it is the same bottle of plonk I regifted to them last year that they have given me the year before.
6) Drink glass of plonk and realise why I gave it to them.
7) Bed while everyone else (including dogs) is snoring.
To quote the late, great Raymond Briggs, Happy Blooming Christmas to you.
Dry turkey just means that it's been cooked for too long, pick a good bird and cook it properly, with a meat thermometer, it won't be dry.
Goose is excellent, but very big for the amount of meat you get, so you do need a big oven. For the goose enthusiasts I'd recommend heading to one of the more northern European countries around St. Martin's day (early November). Goose is the traditional Martinmas meal, I had excellent goose in Prague las month, where restaurants have special goose menus with multiple goose dishes. And beer, or course.
"These days alas it's nut roast, non proper gravy, & roast veg done in veg oils as my Xmas meal will be spent with veggies and vegans :-("
That's annoying. They'd expect special treatment for themselves if invited to a non-veggies house, so why should they not do you the same favour in return? :-)
you could end up stuck with turkey every year
This year for Chrstmas day it's going to be duck, turkey and guinea-fowl 3-bird roast and then once my nephew arrives (after Boxing Day) it's a Beef Wellington.
Hmmm.. beef wellington..
 Renowned for the amount of food he can put away. With no signs of gaining weight. I keep telling him that, one day, all those extra calories are going to catch up with him and he'll double in weight overnight..
You have to keep an eye on the fat yes, but it's always easily contained within a roasting tray under the bird. If memory serves we normally empty it once half way though, but that was for peace of mind rather than necessity.
Mainly gets emptied to avoid to many "BCBs" (thanks, Sir Terry) in the fat we will use for the roast potatoes.
And isn't a problem with goose that your kitchen ends up ankle deep in goose fat?
This is a feature, not a bug. You need to have the bird on a rack above a tray/tin you can remove and drain the fat from - and it's worth doing a couple of times during the cook - so you can use a smaller one.
But you then have lovely, lovely goose fat.
Of course people have commented on how lovely this makes the chrimbo roast potatoes. True, but don't forget how yummy it also makes the roast parsnips.
But, the most important thing is what it does to the Boxing Day (or Christmas week brunch) bubble and squeak! Bubble and squeak is a nice way to get rid of left over veg that you'd otherwise be chucking away or dumping into soup. It's also great with cold meat, that you'll have a lot of lying around.
However, bubble and squeak made with goose fat is amazing!
Christmas dinner is all about the leftovers. My brother actually cooks one turkey, and a turkey crown. That way he's got enough to feed the 18 of us who'll be eating him out of house and home on Christmas Day, and enough left to make turkey curry, which is apparently his new year tradition. Plus bones and leftovers for soup. I'm doing Boxing Day and will roast a huge ham as the centrepiece for a buffet - that's mostly about consuming vast quantities of that and then soaking up lots and lots of afternoon port with cheese and biccies.
Yorkshire pudding is a fine option, but too much hassle I think. As cook, you've got enough on your plate. Though that may just be my family, and the fact that I've never had Christmas Dinner with fewer than 11 other people. People who say it's just for beef are being very silly indeed.
You've got to have sprouts, peas, pigs in blankets, lots of stuffing, sausagemeat, roast tatties and snarpips, crambo sauce, though bread sauce is also nice. Turkey for us (again large family), but goose is lovely if you don't have too many people. Turkey needn't be dry, if you butter and bacon it - and my brother has a magic oven with a steam setting - that makes all meat incredibly tender. But a small pot of boiling water chucked in a couple of times during cooking will also work well.
As I've got older, and less greedy, I eat less and less on Christmas day. So no starters, no pudding (how can you face it?). Just bubbly and samosas/pakoras/bhajis for brekkie, while opening presents.
@that's just what actual Sparticus would say
While goose is the star of the day for us we cook a turkey as well for similar reasons. not enough leftovers on a goose, and a couple of family members who either prefer turkey of are "xmas=turkey" folk.
I prefer goose on the day, but i'm a huge fan of all the soups and pies a turkey provides in the following days.
I'm a huge fan of goose but all the same turkey is (or at least can be) much better than it is getting credit for here.
Just as is the case for chicken you have to spend what seems an obscene amount to get a good one because the economic benefits of rubbish ones are huge but once you have splurged a bit you've got a high quality product that tastes of something, as is the case for all geese in my experience. If geese were subject to the same sort of farming methods I suspect you could produce something equally as insipid as the average turkey.
As well as the reduced cooking time that the higher end turkeys require, three things contribute hugely to the issue of dryness* protecting the breast meat (bacon over, butter under the skin is my preference, but some time cooked upside down is something I've seen done with good results), not stuffing the bird so that you get it cooked through before it dries out, and giving it a proper resting time so that it reabsorbs juices.
Roast spuds and parsnips are essential (not fussed about honey as parsnips are sweet anyway), as are sprouts. All other veg optional but I almost always have carrots, some roast onion and garlic, mashed and / or boiled spuds, some red cabbage, and something else green for sproutophobes.
Cranberry sauce or redcurrant, not bothered which, bread sauce, mustard, and gravy.
Christmas pudding (on fire at some point), brandy or rum butter, cream, and custard. Ice cream if there's some around, ditto any other pudding-friendly dairy product (I have family in Normandy so Isigny creme fraiche usually arrives).
Cheese (all the cheese - a full-on England v France cheese-off), chutney and token salad leaves before (French style) and after (British style) pudding and at all points from then on anyone feels they have any interior space that doesn't need filling with cake (fed with at least one bottle of spirits over the course of maturation), mince pies (my mum's no no one's), or chocolate ("Quality" Street, or whatever gets gifted).
Fizz (with or without orange juice, blackcurrant liqueur etc) to start, lots of red wine with the roast, preposterous dessert wines with pudding, whiskey, whisky, Armagnac/Cognac, sherry, coffee, more red wine etc from then on
All of this commencing some time after 14:00 with some manner of keeping wolves from doors prior to that (my folks like foie gras which my mum does make very well, and which does justify another addition to the wine list to accompany it so . . .).
Crackers with silly hats and jokes also required.
Obviously all of this is subject to change if something blows up or burns down or if someone has a good idea or it turns out everyone though someone else was taking care of some part of other of proceedings.
Proper eating starts on Boxing day when leftovers are rolled out along with a ham, and people can get on with bubble & squeak, ridiculous sandwiches, slices of cold gravy etc
*I actually like a bit of dryness to the meat - it works better in sandwiches and justifies what might otherwise be considered an undignified amount of gravy
Eww. Parsnips are the devils toenail clippings and are only suitable to be fed to food.
Cranberries, although really tasty, have the unfortunate property of making my arthritis go into very high gear (much like cochineal) and so (if I want to move without pain for several days afterwards) is to be avoided.
Which also means that any pre-prepared 'Christmas Dinner' type foods like the paninis in various coffee shops also have to be avoided as they inevitably contain cranberry.
hmmm, never tasted goose but somehow it doesn't attract me
brussel sprouts .... ugh
turkey.... too dry
mince pies... not to my taste
yorkshire puds... meh
I love Christmas. In fact I love it so much that I want a gorgeously tasty meal on Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day, and all points between and around. So stuff tradition and what Victorian England would eat because that was what they could get. I want what I like, and miracles of modern logistics allow me a world of food choices.
And alcohol of course, in copious amounts
Yorkshire puds a yes from me. Never had them with christmas dinner growing up, but as far as I'm concerned no roast dinner is complete without them. One of the things my (non-british) missus loves most about the UK is roast dinners (and one's we've rustled up for her folks go like a house on fire) so christmas is a great excuse to spend half the day in a kitchen pushing out the gravy boat (assuming you like cooking of course).
Starter tends to be about three hours before the main meal and is mostly just something light to stop you getting hammered from the first round of wine. Smoked salmon on toast, some pastry tartlets, smoked mackerel paté on crackers, mushroom arancini went down very well last year, that sort of thing. Couple of glasses of champagne or prosecco to line the stomach and protect from the rest of the wine that's consumed whilst finishing off the main course.
Goose is a great choice, although in my household we tend to alternate with different meat or game over the years (never been much of a fan of turkey). We're lucky enough to have an excellent butcher so this year we're having partridges, last year we had a brace of pheasants, the year before that we had grouse. Then a good few litres of a homemade gravy suited to the meat (white wine or madeira with chicken stock for most poultry, red wine with juice from the meat for most game, often with redcurrant jelly and crushed juniper). Cover it in bacon, pack the roasting tin with quartered onions, chipolatas, bacon/stuffing rolls, pigs in blankets as per preference. When the meat is done and out of the oven, the roasting tin is de-glazed and then added to the gravy, then the batter for the yorkshire (usually with a generous spoonful of bicarb to help fluff it up and get the top/edges nice and crispy) is poured into the roasting tin and cooked in the 15-20mins whilst the meat sits. Some extra fat will be added if the meat didn't leave much in the way of juices.
We'll generally do a roast beef joint in the preceding week to get fresh beef dripping for the roast veg (unless of course we're cooking goose or duck).
About five hours later we manage to have some christmas pud (the fruit for which has usually been macerating in rum and spices for the past four months).
Any leftovers veg are turned into boxing day bubble'n'squeak, leftover meat is typically recycled into a meat/game pie (we make a sort of hybrid shortcrust/suet crust pastry for this) with any leftover gravy.
In a word: yum.
Yorkshires, roasties, game with wine and juniper gravy, game pies and bubble and squeak with left-overs. Mmmmmmm.
You haven't got any spare seats round your table have you?
I've always loved the eating at Christmas. It's not just about the day. As kids, when my parents didn't have much, there was always good things to eat that we didn't normally get. And that lasted throughout the holiday.
As an adult, when I can afford things I like, it's more about having the time and inclination to do interesting things. And eat the stuff I might deem too unhealthy. Though I'll be at my brother's on Christmas day, I'm doing a smaller family Boxing Day all-day buffet. That'll generate left-overs to feed me, and I'll have friends over for a roast to get more. That and a bit of smoked salmon will have me sorted for brunches and nice dinners I can pick at, with a glass of wine in front of the telly.
I think the other luxury is a week of lunches at home. Stuff you can take to work is never going to be as nice as spending twenty minutes making the perfect smoked salmon and scrambled eggs - with bread I baked the day before. Oh and why not a glass of bubbles to go with it? It's Christmas!
Sadly I've only got the one oven (and it's a well rehearsed juggling act getting everything for the main course ready at the same time) so this is usually just a meal for me, the good lady and any friends nearby who would otherwise be on their own
Indeed, the extended holiday is a perfect opportunity to stick a pin in to some of those recipe books on the shelf and say "yup, why not?", hence why my take on christmas dinner is substantially different from that of my family.
I don't even think feasts like this are even that expensive, at least in terms of money; pound for pound our butcher provides significantly better quality meat than the supermarket for less money, but sadly butchers of this sort are few and far between and I realise that many people out there only have the supermarkets to choose from these days - personally I was over the moon when I found out my new digs had a butcher 10mins bike ride away, and that's when we started buying new and different stuff for christmas dinner.
Mostly I think the expense is time and cooking ability (my mum had me cooking from an early age as part of the "you're out the house at 18 whether you like it or not and I don't want you starving to death/eating nothing but kebabs" plan), and for most big families with kids and that, meals as complicated as this might be punching above your weight, but I certainly feel it's worth the effort if you do have the time. Certainly I'd rather spend 6 hours on christmas day making a delicious meal with the missus rather than five hours in front of the telly and one hour doing a pre-prepared bland turkey* meal.
I forgot to mention sprouts and stuffing properly. I don't like boiled sprouts much at all, even when they're cooked well, but when they're raw and shredded and cooked in the bubble and squeak** they're very tasty indeed. Same with spinach, turns to horrible mush IMHO when boiled, steamed or wilted but is rather tasty raw.
Stuffing tends to be based off of out butcher's sausage meat (although we will make venison stuffing when cooking something very strongly flavoured like grouse - this was a recommendation from the butcher himself and he was not wrong!) often with roast chestnuts and dried apricots plus whatever herbs we feel will go well, along with goodly portions of fresh breadcrumbs, lemon juice and finely diced onions (sometimes caremelised in sugar and vermouth depending on the meat).
Needless to say I always look forward to celebrating the yuletide feast :)
* not that turkey has to be bland, but personally I think it takes too much effort to make turkey interesting, and it's too big and unwieldy for small gatherings of 4-5 people. Cooking with small birds takes up less space in the oven, takes less time to cook and is simpler to cook to boot.
** that reminds me - found some guanciale at the deli last weekend, used it in place of the usual bacon/pancetta for making some spaghetti carbonara. Utterly delicious stuff - it's like cooking with ready-smoked fat. This year's bubble and squeak will likely contain guanciale.
I've personally never cooked a turkey, as I've not tried roast for more than 8 people (my table isn't big enough) - and never done the family Christmas dinner. Where with 18 of us, turkey is a very convenient option.
I don't ever remember the turkey being particularly dry - so I don't know what people are doing to them. Or maybe my family are just good at it? Mum always put a tiny amount of stuffing in the bird, to keep that moist, but in order to cook it quicker she'd do most of the stuffing (now called non-stuffing?) outside - so that there was plenty to go around. Brother has a steam oven - which helps, but makes pork melt-in-the-mouth beautiful. I already put a container of water in the oven when baking bread, so there's no reason not to do it with turkey.
But it needn't be that expensive either. I always hit as many of the supermarkets as I can manage on Christmas Eve - and there's usually lots of bargainacious things. I'm doing a cold roast ham on Boxing Day (yum!) with an all-day buffet, so people can pick at it. Some planned, but at least half of that is going to consist of things that look interesting and/or cheap. As long as there's a huge ham, and lots of cheese and biscuits, the rest will look after itself. And then there'll be good stuff for me.
I think the time is as much the luxury as the food. You're not going on holiday. There are few plans. So there's time to cook nice things. I'll have friends over, and cook for them too.
Turkey's a bit of a tricky double whammy for dryness because it tends to not be as fatty as a chicken, and being much bigger it requires cooking for considerably longer. Hence it needs probably more fat added to the bird than perhaps most people are used to (esp. if you treat it like a chicken) - when doing turkey we'd generally slather the bird in butter and then lay about 12 rashers of streaky over it. It's also important to have a fat-heavy stuffing (e.g. more sausagemeat than usual).
When cooking it we'd cook it for half an hour at gas mark 8 to cook the outside and get the fat melted as quickly as possible, and then put the bird in a tinfoil hat at gas 5 for the rest of the cooking time, and thus you end up with a nice succulent turkey.
For what it's worth, most of our stuffing usually gets done outside of the birds as well, but only because stuffing is hugely popular in our household (to the extent that we'll have cold stuffing sarnies in the following days) so we always make twice as much as normal.
I've never had a "wild" turkey, but a family member keeps chickens and I've had the immense pleasure of eating a genuinely free-range chicken from their back garden. Vastly different in taste and texture (gamier and much more "meaty" in the mouth) from the sort of chicken you'd buy in a shop and stonkingly delicious.
I come from a small family so we've never had more than a meal for 6 but I think I'd need two ovens to deal with 8 or more people.
"Starter tends to be about three hours before the main meal... Smoked salmon on toast, some pastry tartlets, smoked mackerel paté on crackers, mushroom arancini went down very well last year, that sort of thing."
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (with cream added) with brown (Granary or similar) toast has been my Christmas Day breakfast for over 20 years now.
How long is it to lunch time?
P.S. A Definite Yes to Yorkshire puds. As pointed out above, they are in the oven while the meat is resting.
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