Excerpted from The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater (Gotham Books, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Nigel Slater.
Prep time: 15 min
Roast time: About 2 hours
Total time: About 2 hrs and 15 min
Yield: Enough for 5 to 6
We start with smoked salmon, which I serve with lemon and thin slices of dark, sticky pumpernickel bread.
One goose, approximately 14 pounds in weight
12 juniper berries
2 generous tablespoons red currant jelly
The Onion Gravy:
3 medium onions
2 generous tablespoons olive oil
2 generous tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 glasses dry Marsala
3 cups stock or water
1 1/4 teaspoons English mustard powder
A generous tablespoon grain mustard
1. You are going to cook the goose at 425 degrees F for twenty-five minutes, then at 350 degrees F for approximately one and a half hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pull the excess fat from inside the bird. It will come out in big lumps. Prick the bird all over with a fork, salt it inside and out (but no pepper), then wrap aluminum foil over the legs, which have a tendency to dry out. Put the bird breast-side down in a roasting pan and roast for twenty-five minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Leave the bird to roast for approximately one and a half to two hours, taking it out halfway through cooking to tip off the fat that has accumulated in the pan, remove the foil from its legs and turn the bird breast-side up. This is also when I add parboiled potatoes to the pan. I do all this with great care, as the fat is copious and blisteringly hot.
3. To check the bird is cooked, pierce the thighs with a skewer; if the juices that run out are clear, then the bird is ready. Leave to rest for ten minutes before carving, slicing the meat on to warm plates.
The Onion Gravy
Like curry, trifle and bean soup, this actually seems to improve if made the day before
1. Peel the onions, slice them in half and then into thick segments. Leave them to cook with the olive oil in a heavy-based pan over a low heat, giving them the occasional stir so they do not burn. You want to end up with onions that are utterly soft, golden and translucent. Tender enough to squash between finger and thumb. You can expect this to take a good thirty minutes.
2. Stir in the flour and let it cook for a few minutes. Now pour in the Marsala and the stock or water, stirring into a thin sauce. Season with salt and black pepper and the mustard powder and leave to simmer gently for a good twenty minutes, then stir in the grain mustard and continue simmering for a further five.
3. Serve or leave to cool and reheat as necessary.
The Juniper Sauce
My goose gravy is the Onion Gravy with twelve lightly crushed juniper berries added with the stock and 2 generous tablespoons of red currant jelly stirred in at the end, five minutes or so before serving. Once the goose has been removed to a carving board, I carefully pour off all the fat from the tin and pour the sauce into the roasting pan, bubble, scrape the goodness from the bottom into the sauce with a spatula, and stir.
The Apple and Lemon Purée
At any point during the cooking of the goose, peel, core and chop five dessert apples or three Bramleys and let them cook over a moderate heat with a whole chopped lemon and its juice and 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Once they have fallen to a purée, sweeten to taste and either sieve or whiz briefly in a blender. Keep warm covered with foil, or reheat just before serving.
The Roast Potatoes
There have to be roast potatoes and I find it easiest to peel and parboil them while the goose is cooking, then tip them into the roasting pan when I take it out of the oven to pour off the gravy and turn the bird over.
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