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Xmas dinner

With a week to go before Christmas most people have finally solved the riddle of where to actually spend it, although not without offending those family members who were spurned in their attempts to be hosts and are now feeling like Prince William and David Cameron, who foolishly thought they could land the 2018 World Cup without the traditional bung.

So if, like Mother Russia in eight years’ time, it is you who have bribed family members to make the journey through the driving snow to celebrate Jesus’ birthday at yours, what are you going to cook on the big day to meet their approval?

Now I may be vegetarian, but I know that some of you can’t contemplate a Christmas feast without sinking your jaws into some flesh. So against my better judgment I’ve done some research for you and recommend that this year you forget about turkey and go for the goose. Turkey is so last year. And the year before that. And the year before that come to think of it. Goose, meanwhile, is a departure from the norm and a richer, more succulent alternative. Furthermore, it serves less meat too. So does a nut roast, but even my veggie sensitivities wouldn’t stoop so low as to put you through that.

Anyway, the point is, when it comes to poultry, less is most definitely more. Due to its fattier flavour you don’t need eat so much goose as you do turkey and the bonus is that you won’t be bombarded with cold goose, goose sandwiches, goose soup or goose surprise for ever more afterwards either.

And any bright sparks who claim that goose is simply not traditional Christmas fare, can be put right too. Goose had always been the seasonal bird of choice on Christmas Day in England until Scrooge came along in A Christmas Carol (1843) and showed his new-found generosity by buying the Cratchits the biggest turkey in the butcher’s. Thereafter, every Englishman and his dog wanted a yuletide gobbler rather than a Christmas goose and Charles Dickens became the least popular person in the turkey community until Bernard Matthews came along.

Much like skinning a cat, there are many ways to cook a goose but should you wish to zing up your Christmas, why not give your goose some lemon zest? Once you’ve got your goose, get rid of the giblets and season it with lemon zest, parsley sprigs, thyme and sage (outside and in) and lightly score its skin and legs with a knife to help release the fat during roasting.

For a golden goose, heat your oven at 240C/fan 220C/gas 9 and brown your bird in a frying pan with two tablespoons of oil. Hold the legs, press firmly down on the breasts and try not to think of the good old days.

Next, glaze the goose in three tablespoons of honey, stick her in a roasting tin and let nature take its course, though you’ll need to reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 after ten minutes or so. Also, keep checking in every 30 minutes or so, to baste the goose with pan juices, taking care to pour off the fat through a large sieve into a heatproof bowl. You can use this later for the potatoes and vegetables. And if you’re worried your bird is getting too brown, cover her in kitchen foil.

And then do the same with the goose…

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