Master the art of French cooking this holiday season with The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan. Recipes include Galettes Bretonnes au Sarrasin (Breton Buckwheat Galettes); Lapin Rôti à la Moutarde (Roast Rabbit with Mustard); and L'Oie Rôtie de Noël (Roast Goose with Apples and Vegetables).
Serves 5 or 6
Roast goose is a reason to celebrate, and here is a splendid Alsatian recipe in which the bird is basted with beer so the skin darkens and the gravy toasts to a deep caramel. Whole apples cooked in the cavity add unexpected flavor and emerge tasty and hot, ready to serve with the accompanying rutabagas and Brussels sprouts. Look for a goose with creamy white skin and plump breast meat that almost conceals the breastbone. Even then, a bird weighing ten pounds (four and one-half kilograms) serves only six people. In compensation, a goose renders quantities of superb fat for frying potatoes.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Wipe the goose inside and out with paper towels, and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Peel and core the apples, leaving them whole. Put them inside the bird, and truss it (see note below). Put the goose on a rack in the roasting pan and pour over the beer, rubbing it well into the skin.
Roast the goose until it starts to brown, about 40 minutes. Prick the skin to release the fat underneath it, then turn the bird breast down and baste it. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C and continue roasting, basting often, for 1 hour. Generous amounts of fat will accumulate in the bottom of the pan, so drain and reserve it. Finally, turn the goose once more, breast up. Continue roasting and basting until the bird is very brown, the meat pulls away from the drumstick, and the juices run clear when you prick the thigh with a skewer, 1 to 1-1/4 hours longer. A thermometer inserted in the thigh away from bone should register 165 degrees F/74 degrees C. If the skin starts to brown too much during cooking, cover the goose loosely with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable garnish. Put the rutabagas in a saucepan with cold salted water to cover, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Put the Brussels sprouts in a saucepan with cold salted water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, just until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
When the goose is cooked, remove it from the oven. Turn the oven heat back up to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set the bird, breast side up, on the foil, setting the roasting pan aside. Rub the goose with the butter and return it to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the skin. Transfer the goose to a large platter, and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Set it aside while heating the vegetables and making the gravy.
To heat the vegetables, heat about 4 tablespoons/60 g of the reserved goose fat in a large frying pan. Add the vegetables with salt and pepper and sauté briskly until lightly browned. Spoon them around the goose and continue keeping it warm.
For the gravy, pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the roasting pan (keep the fat for another use). Add the wine to the pan, bring to a boil on the stove top, and simmer, stirring constantly to dissolve the pan juices, until reduced by at least half. Add the broth and simmer the gravy until well flavored and concentrated, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste it, adjust the seasoning, and strain into a bowl.
Carve the bird at the table (see note below), spooning the apples from the inside like stuffing. Pass the gravy at the table.
Duck or other poultry parts or even rabbit bones may be substituted for the chicken. For about 2-1/2 quarts/2.5 liters broth, combine 3 pounds/1.4 kg chicken backs, necks, and bones with 1 onion, quartered; 1 carrot, quartered; 1 stalk celery, cut into pieces; 1 bouquet garni (see note below); 1 teaspoon peppercorns; and about 4 quarts/4 liters cold water or as needed to cover the poultry and vegetables generously. Bring very slowly to a boil, skimming off any foam from the surface, and then simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours, skimming occasionally and adding more water if necessary so the ingredients are always covered. Strain the broth and taste. If the flavor is not concentrated, boil until well reduced and flavorful. Chill and skim off any solidified fat from the surface before using. The broth may be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and freezes well for a few months.
A tied bundle of aromatic herbs used for flavoring braises, ragouts, stocks, and sauces. It should include a sprig of fresh thyme, a dried bay leaf, and several sprigs of fresh parsley. Leek greens and celery tops may also be included. If a recipe calls for a large bouquet garni, double the ingredients.
Large birds such as turkey and goose, as well as smaller ducks, chickens, quail, and pigeons (squabs), can be trussed with a long piece of thin string without using a trussing needle. To make carving easier, first remove the wishbone: lift the neck skin and, with a small, sharp knife, outline the wishbone and cut it free from the breastbone. Tuck the neck skin and wings under the bird. Set the bird on its back. Pass a long string under the tail and knot it over the leg joints and around the tail, tying a double knot. Take the strings back along the body, passing them between the legs and breast. Flip the bird over onto its breast and loop the strings under each wing pinion. Tie the strings tightly, again with a double knot, and turn the bird onto its back. You will see that the legs and wings are held firmly to the body and the bird sits flat on the board.
Let the cooked bird stand for 10 minutes in a warm place, then discard the trussing strings. Set the bird, back down, on a carving board. Cut the skin between the leg and breast. Using a two-pronged fork, turn the bird on its side. Cut around the "oyster" meat lying against the backbone, so the meat remains attached to the thigh. With the fork, spear the leg at the thigh and twist it up and forward, breaking the joint. Finish cutting away the leg joint and pull the leg from the carcass with the oyster meat still attached. Halve the leg by cutting through the joint, using the line of white fat as a guide. If the wishbone was not removed before cooking, cut it out. Cut horizontally above the wing joint, through to the breastbone, so you can carve a complete slice. Carve the breast in slices parallel to the rib cage. Cut off the wing, then carve the other side of the bird in the same way.
For more French recipes, please visit the Global Gourmet's France page.
This page created November 2007
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