Magazine article The Spectator

The Goose Is Getting Fat

Magazine article The Spectator

The Goose Is Getting Fat

Article excerpt

My beloved editor insists that I write about a roast goose, as all his friends want a goose for Christmas instead of a turkey this year. Quite right too. It is a better bird, if more expensive, and it has less flesh on it, so it becomes a lovely treat and leaves you with large quantities of the most delicious fat in which to fry subsequent potatoes and slices of bread or croutons. The bird is renowned for its stupidity, but is wise enough to run around free rather than be kept in batteries for its lifetime, thus producing excellent-tasting meat. A tailor's smoothing iron is called a goose because its handle resembles the neck of a goose (stuffed neck of goose is a wonderful dish), but the plural of the iron is gooses not geese, so keep that up your sleeve for Scrabble.

At the time of the `Papal, Aggression' when Cardinal Wiseman was designated Archbishop of Westminster and Administrator Apostolic of the Diocese of Southwark, a street ballad of 1851 said:

If they come here we'll cook their goose,

The Pope and Cardinal Wiseman.

But where the expression `he cooked his goose', meaning he has done for himself, came from, I have no idea. How about it, Dot Wordsworth? Anyhow, this is the way I cook my goose.

Roast goose and stuffing

1 10 lb oven-ready goose

50 prunes

1/4 pint dry vermouth

3/4 pint goose stock (made from the neck and giblets)

the goose's liver, blanched and finely chopped

4 shallots, finely chopped

1 oz butter

1/4 pint port

4 oz pate de foie gras (or similar) pinch allspice and thyme

3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make sure you have a good-sized roasting tin to fit the goose and a grid to place over it. Preheat the oven to Gas 7, 425F, 218C. You can make the stuffing in advance. Soak the prunes in hot tea (Earl Grey) until soft, stone them and drain, or get pre-stoned ones - easier. Place prunes, vermouth and stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for ten minutes until tender. Strain but reserve the liquid. Melt the butter in a little pan and gently fry the shallots and liver for a couple of minutes, turning the while. Place in a mixing-bowl which will hold all the ingredients. Boil the port in the same pan until reduced to two tablespoons, scrape round the sides and add to the liver mixture. Beat the pate, breadcrumbs, allspice and thyme together and combine thoroughly with the rest. …

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