How was everyone’s Christmas break? It goes by so quickly doesn’t it? I spent mine down at the beach with no internet hence the blogging hiatus – hope you didn’t miss me! Today’s post takes us back to Christmas Day. I had my immediate family plus Sister A’s Bf M around to my place for lunch, making for a very manageable lunch for 6.
Since there was only a small group of us, I decided to do something special and cook a goose as my main. I cooked goose for Christmas the year before last, and was keen to give it another try. I ordered my goose from the Camberwell Market and again was given an undersized bird – I asked for a 3.5kg-4kg goose and received a 2.5kg one. Luckily, I had some hanger steak left over from our Housemates Christmas so no one went hungry.
I prepared my goose as I had done previously, even using the same stuffing recipe as it was so delicious. I thawwed my goose in the fridge for 2 days as it came frozen, then prepared and stuffed him on Christmas Eve. I then handed him over to Father T to cook on Christmas Day, leaving me free to get on with other things.
The hanger steak I prepared exactly as I did for our Housemates Christmas: just rub with a little bit of oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cook on a blistering hot grill or BBQ until pink. What could be easier?
The key to Christmas Day, I think, is to keep things simple. Prepare as much ahead of time as possible, and keep the workload to a minimum on the big day. Who want’s to be stuck in the kitchen on Christmas while everyone else is enjoying themselves? Delegation is also key – hand the job of cooking this steak over to someone else while you prepare the sides.
Sides this year had to include my goose fat potatoes by order of my Sisters A & E. This time, however, I prepared them slightly differently. Instead of putting the goose fat in my baking tray and placing the potatoes on top, I tossed them in the goose fat after par boiling them which gave them an even crunchier coating.
Along with the potatoes, I made smashed butternut squash, a recipe from Jamie Oliver. It’s a great spin on classic roast pumpkin, with all the added flavour from the herbs and nuts. The recipe called for sage, but I accidently used mine all up stuffing my goose (oops) so I substituted parsley. But I’d use sage if I had the choice.
Since my cauliflower went down so well last year, I decided to do cauliflower again this year. This recipe incorporates lots of my favourite flavours – gorgonzola, pancetta and pine nuts, which go really well with the nuttiness of the roasted cauliflower. If you’ve never tried roasting your cauliflower before, give it a try. It’s a revelation.
I also made a cabbage and fennel salad, a recipe I found by Katie Quinn Davies of the blog What Katie Ate. I couldn’t find any blood oranges, so instead I substituted pink grapefruits. I used my magimix that Bf B gave me for my birthday to slice up all the veggies which made this recipe a breeze. If you aren’t lucky enough to own a food processor with a slicer attachment, just slice everything as finely as possible. Do it the day before too – they’ll keep in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
For dessert, we had Father T’s Traditional Christmas Pudding, which is how it’s been since we were little. A slice of that along with a dallop of ice cream AND hard sauce made for the perfect end to an awesome Christmas Day lunch.
W/ PANCETTA STUFFING & PORT GRAVY
Begin this recipe the day before.
1 x 2.5 kg Goose, prepared by your butcher*
1 quantity stuffing (recipe below)
salt and pepper
2 tbs canola oil
150g piece of pancetta, cut into 5mm cubes
2 brown onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbs shredded sage leaves
3 tbs toasted pine nuts
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Goose neck, gizzards and wing tips
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 cup port, or to taste
- Ensure the cavity of the goose is empty.
- Grab the wings and bend them backwards at the 2nd joint, dislocating them. Cut through the tendons to remove the wing tips. Reserve these for gravy.
- For the gravy, in a large saute pan, fry the goose off cuts in a little oil until golden. Add water to cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours until reduced. Strain and add enough chicken stock until you have 500ml. Leave in the fridge overnight.
- Prick the fatty areas of the goose to help the fat render out, making sure you don’t pierce the meat. Pay attention to the wings and thighs.
- Place goose in the sink and pour over boiling water straight from the kettle once or twice to tighten the skin (this will make it crispy).
- Pat dry with paper towel inside and out and place on a wire rack in a deep baking tray.
- Leave, uncovered, in the fridge while you make the stuffing.
- For the stuffing, heat the oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until the fat has rendered out and the pancetta is crisp. Turn the heat to low, then add onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Stir in the sage, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Combine the cooled onion mixture in a large bowl with the pine nuts, rind, parsley, breadcrumbs and eggs. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix well. Stuff the goose with the stuffing and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight.
- Remove goose from fridge 3-4 hours before cooking.
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Rub the goose with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 170°C and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours (or 50 minutes per kilo), basting the goose occasionally.
- While the goose cooks, make your gravy. Scoop the fat layer off the stock and use to cook your potatoes in. Heat the stock in a saucepan. Take 1/2 cup of the juices and stir together with the cornflour until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan with the port and whisk together until it thickens and begins to bubble rapidly. Season to taste and serve hot with the turkey.
- To check if goose is cooked, insert a skewer into the thigh meat. If the juices are clear, it’s ready. If pink, cook a little longer. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
*Ask your butcher to remove the neck and gizzards but keep them for gravy.
1kg hanger steak
- Remove steak from fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat your BBQ or grill pan until it is smoking hot.
- Rub the steak with a little olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill until your liking, about 4-5 minutes either side for medium rare.
- Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving thinly.
CAULIFLOWER W/ PANCETTA,
PINE NUTS & GORGONZOLA
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
200g sliced pancetta
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
45g (1/4 cup) pine nuts, toasted
60g gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 180C. Place cauliflower on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook in a moderate oven until beginning to brown, about 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat a grill to high heat. Cook pancetta on either side until crispy and brown, about 5 minutes. Drain well and break into small pieces. Set aside.
- For the dressing, in a small jar, combine 3 tbsp olive oil, balsamic and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Place the pine nuts in a dry pan and fry for a few minutes until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- When the cauliflower is cooked, place on a serving tray. Drizzle over dressing, and sprinkle over pancetta, pine nuts, blue cheese and parsley.
1 large butternut squash, halved lengthways, seeds removed
50g pine nuts
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ small bunch of sage (or handful of flat leaf parsley), chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ red chilli, finely sliced
200g walnuts, chopped roughly
- Preheat oven to 180C. Wrap butternut squash tightly in aluminium foil and place on a baking tray. Bake in a hot oven until very tender, about 80 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the pine nuts in a dry pan and fry for a few minutes until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- When the butternut squash is almost ready, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and fry sage leaves until crispy. Reserve oil. If using parsley, skip this step.
- Once the butternut squash is cooked, scoop the pumpkin out from the skin onto a serving tray. Sprinkle with pine nuts, sage and the oil it was cooked in, cinnamon, chilli and walnuts and drizzle generously with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
RED CABBAGE AND FENNEL SALAD
W/ TARRAGON YOGHURT DRESSING
1 large bulb fennel
1⁄4 red cabbage, cored, leaves very finely sliced
1 cup (120g) pecans, chopped
4 pink grapefruit
200 g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
Mint leaves to serve
FOR THE DRESSING
Small handful tarragon leaves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup (95g) greek-style yoghurt
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Using a food processor with a slicer attachment, or a mandolin, slice the fennel and cabbage thinly.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
- Cut the top and bottoms off the grapefruit, and using a knife cut off the skin. Over a large bowl, carefully segment the grapefruit retaining all the juice. Place the segments into the bowl and discard the pith.
- Add the cabbage and fennel to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer salad to a serving dish and sprinkle over pecans, goats cheese and a few mint leaves before serving.
GOOSE FAT POTATOES
3kg brushed potatoes, peeled and cut into sizeable chunks
4 tbsp goose fat
salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- In a large pot, add potatoes and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes until just soft. Drain well and return to the pot with the lid on. Let them sit in the pot for a couple of minutes so that all the water evaporates off them. Heat the goose fat in a small saucepan until runny. Pour over potatoes and give them a gentle shake to coat them in the goose fat and rough up the edges (this will make them crunchy).
- Carefully divide potatoes between two baking trays and season well. Place in a hot oven and cook for 1 hour until golden, tossing occasionally.