Claire Symington


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Never cooked your goose?
Then don't be put off

More people are choosing a goose for Christmas for the first time each year — but how many more are put off because they’ve never cooked one?

Who better to ask for some simple tips for first-timers than Claire Symington who began her career in catering and became head cook at Leith’s Good Food in London before moving to Seldom Seen Farm, Billesdon in Leicestershire, where she and her husband Robert rear 4,000 geese for Christmas each year.

“Goose is naturally juicier than a turkey, so they’ll be no fear of drying out,” says Claire. “Indeed it’s coping with the fat that puts some people off — but of course the fat is such a wonderful by-product much prized by top chefs today.”

She has come up with six tips to help ‘first-timers’ cook their Christmas goose to perfection.
1 Choose goose of weight you need — a 4.5kg(10lb) goose will feed six to eight people, or a 6kg(13lb) goose eight to ten people.
2 Make sure the oven and roasting tin will accommodate it. If a tight fit, place bird diagonally in tin.
3 Use large width tin foil to wrap roasting tin, to avoid spillages.
4 To prevent burning wrap legs in foil and also cover with some of the fat. Remove foil for the last 20 minutes, baste the breast with the fat and pour off the surplus.
5 Siphon off some fat from the roasting tin, ideally using a bulb baster, and use for potatoes and parsnips.
6 Rest for 30 minutes, then carve either from the breast — or my way — remove complete breast from either side of the bird and carve across the grain into slices.


FULL RECIPE: HOW TO COOK YOUR CHRISTMAS GOOSE by Claire Symington
What you will need
A large, deep meat tin ideally with a trivet or rack, foil, salt and pepper and stuffing of your choice.
Storing Remove the giblets and the body cavity fat. Store the giblets and the goose separately in the fridge.
Frozen birds must be allowed to thaw thoroughly before cooking.
Cooking times Follow the instructions that came with the goose. I say about 3 hours for 4.5kg (10lb) and 3.5 hours for 5.5kg (12lb). Cover with foil for all the cooking time and remove the foil for the last 20 minutes.

Method
Place the giblets in 2.2 litres/4 pints of water.
Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for around one hour with the lid on.
Strain and thicken the stock to make the gravy.
Prick the skin, rub salt and pepper over the skin.
Stuff the goose with your favourite stuffing, or alternatively fill the body cavity with chopped apples and herbs and cook the stuffing in a separate dish.
To prevent burning, wrap legs in foil and also cover with some of the fat.
Cover meat tin with foil and place in pre-heated oven.
Remove foil for the last 20 minutes, baste the breast with the fat and pour off the surplus.

Carving After resting in cool oven for at least 30 minutes, place on board to carve, take long slices from the breast, or, and I prefer this, remove the whole breast from either side of the bird and then with a short bladed knife carve across the grain into slices. Then carve the meat from the legs.
All birds will have the same sort of conformation it’s just what size they are --a woodcock has the same skeletal structure as a turkey.

Now for the goose fat
Siphon some fat off from the goose roasting tin, ideally using a bulb baster, and then use for the potatoes and parsnips.
Strain surplus fat through a sieve into a Pyrex or similar jug, allow to get cold, pour into jam jars and store in fridge for at least six months or freeze.
Use for roast potatoes, parsnips, squash or any roast root vegetable.
Excellent for initial frying of veg for soup making.
For roasting a leg of lamb or game bird - baste with goose fat to keep moist and skin crisp.