I've never been a huge fan of Christmas, not since I was a kid anyway. Rather than being a time of peace and goodwill to all men, it always seems more like a very expensive time of aggravation and hostility. The drive up to my parents house that usually takes two hours will now take five hours because everybody with a car is out to get me and make the journey miserable. It's snowing and freezing cold. For some strange reason the general public think that this is wonderful and 'Christmassy'. Yeah, it's pretty, I get it, until you've been stuck on the motorway for three hours with two screaming kids, one of whom is throwing up while the other one is just complaining and your wife is angry at you because you're not getting into the whole Christmas 'thing'.
Until of course, it's time to start cooking. Ever since I was a lad it was my favourite part of the day, we always had a turkey and my Dad always made his Oyster Stuffing, which in my book is still the highlight of the whole occasion. Both our children, now fully grown and flown, we're working until late Christmas eve but were staying at our house, so their mother, my dearly beloved, was thrilled by the fact she could still put out Xmas Stockings for the little darlings. How ridiculous, but they all seem to love it so whatever makes them happy...
What makes me happy is the eating and drinking bit, and this year I was very happy indeed. For a couple of weeks prior I had been making flaky pastry at every opportunity and freezing it so a number of friends had a package of mince pies, sausage rolls and bacon marmalade
as their present this year, infinitely better than another Mariah Carey greatest hits cd or a gift card for the Olive Garden.
Anyway, this year we had planned a special carnivores delight. There was going to be eight of us for dinner so I bought a goose and a duck. My son Jack has a smoker so we put that to good use and hung the duck in there for about four hours. He had salted it and let it sit overnight in the fridge to dry it out a bit and used applewood chips, rice, earl grey tea and lemon peel in the smoker tray.
Back in the kitchen my dearly beloved had made mince pies and a flourless chocolate cake with vanilla cream that is absolutely divine. We put the goose in the oven, also for around four hours, and got to work on the veg. Roast potatoes should only ever be roasted in goose fat, nothing else comes close. When roasting a goose the amount of fat released is amazing and a gift from the culinary gods, collect it as best you can and store in jars or small plastic containers and freeze.
Carrots and swede = (rutabaga) boiled and mashed together with salt, white pepper and butter.
Mashed potatoes - boiled and mashed with plenty of butter and a splash of milk
Roast potatoes - par-boiled for a few minutes, drain and shake around in the saucepan until fluffy, roast in goose fat at 380f 45 mins
Brussel Sprouts with bacon & cream - boil sprouts till almost done, chop bacon and fry, add sprouts for 5 mins, add cream
Oyster stuffing - see recipe
Red cabbage, german style
Chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon - wrap the sausages in bacon and roast in an oven-proof dish 380f until golden & delicious
Smoked Duck - See above
Roasted Goose - You don't really have to do anything to a goose, get it in a roasting pan, 400f for 30 mins, then 360 for 3 hours
Lashings of gravy - giblets from the goose & duck, flour, wine, chicken stock, salt & pepper, simmer for an hour
Flourless Chocolate cake - recipe coming soon
Quite a lot of Red Wine and a bottle of Port...
As you have probably already surmised I'm not one for blowing my own trumpet... but goodness me, this was the best Xmas dinner that any of us have ever had. Plus, like most good food, it was even better the next day. The left-over opportunities are first class, chop it up, throw it all in a skillet, with a dollop of goose fat of course, fried egg on top, call it breakfast!