4 December 1998

Dont believe that goose mystique

Goose is no more difficult to prepare and cook than a

turkey or duck and its rich flavour is ideally complemented

by fruit-based stuffings

BEFORE roasting a goose any surplus fat should be removed from the body cavity. Prick the skin and rub in salt and pepper, then lightly brush with cooking oil.

Place the bird, breast side up, on a trivet and cover with foil. This will allow the fat to drain off. Spoon off the excess once or twice during cooking. Alternatively, roast the bird on a bed of root vegetables. The fat will fry and caramelise the vegetables to make a delicious accompaniment to the meat, or can be used separately in a gravy or sauce.

Cook at 180ûC (350ûF, Gas 4). Allow around 20 mins/0.5kg (20 mins/lb). For Agas, place on the bottom runners of the roasting oven. Refer to manufacturers instructions when using a fan oven.

The flavour and richness of goose means that portions should not be large. To make carving easier take out the wishbone first, either before cooking or before carving. Take off the legs and wings then thinly carve the breast in slices with a very sharp knife. Remove the drumsticks and carve the thigh meat in slants.

All goose meat is dark and the breast is particularly densely textured. A 4kg (8lb 8oz) goose will serve 4-6 people, 5kg (10lb 10oz) serves 6-8 people and 6kg (12lb 12oz) feeds 8-9

If buying a goose in a supermarket, look for the UK 5004 EEC marking on the wrapper to ensure you buy British.

Red cabbage is the traditional partner to goose, either on its own or with juniper, caraway seeds or a sprinkling of five spice powder, and winter root vegetables are delicious roasted in goose fat.

Roast goose with muscat grape sauce

4kg (8lb 8oz) oven ready goose

1 apple, halved

1 orange, halved

300ml (0.5 pint) white wine

50g (2oz) flour

450ml (0.25 pint) hot stock or water

300ml (0.5 pint) orange liqueur

200g (0.5lb) muscat grapes

Salt and pepper

Remove any surplus fat from the body cavity. Place the apples and oranges inside the goose, season and place it in a roasting tray. Pour in the wine and roast in a moderate oven 180ûC, 350ûF, gas mark 4 until the goose is tender. Allow around 20-25 minutes per half kg. Remove the foil for the last 30/40min of cooking. When the goose is cooked, transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

Pour off most of the goose fat from the roasting tray and mix the flour to a smooth paste with the remaining fat and pan juices. Cook for a few minutes, cool slightly, then add the hot stock, stirring all the time. Season and bring to the boil.

While the goose is cooking, peel and remove the pips from the grapes and place in a saucepan with the orange liqueur. Heat gently, then ignite to flame the liqueur. When the flames die down, strain the gravy into the grapes, taste to correct the seasoning and serve with the goose. Serves 6