Monday, December 8, 2014

Roast Stuffed Goose with Apricots & Prunes Armagnac

One of the most romantic images of the Christmas season must be a festive Roast Goose. Although turkey has far surpassed goose as Canada's preferred Christmas bird, goose is still the traditional favourite among many Northern, Central and Eastern Europeans. For lovers of rich, dark moist meat, nothing quite compares. Crisp and golden on the outside, Roast Goose is actually wonderfully lean and full of flavour. Stuffing the bird with a sweet and fragrant Armagnac prune, apricot and bread stuffing, is a delicious compliment to the rich roasted succulent meat, along with crunchy roast potatoes, braised red cabbage, brussels sprouts and butternut squash. With all of the tales we've heard about goose being very fatty and offering little meat, we couldn't have been more satisfied with our crisp, moist and absolutely delicious Roast Goose. Our 13-pound bird served our small party of ravenous revellers rather well, with lots of leftovers including a litre of prized goose fat for our upcoming annual February Cassoulet!

1 cup of pitted prunes are soaked in Armagnac for several hours

Chopped celery, onion and garlic sautéed with vegetable oil for 5 to 7 minutes

One day-old baguette cut into cubes

The chopped baguette is added and tossed well

Chopped Armagnac soaked prunes and chopped apricots are added to the stuffing with the armagnac

The stuffing is ready!

The goose is loosely packed with the stuffing, then the skin is pulled over the opening to seal the cavity

With strips of bacon laid over the breast, the goose is roasted at 425° for 30 minutes, 
then reduced to 325°F at about 20 minutes per pound, or until the bird reaches an internal temperature 
of 180° deep in the breast

Roast Stuffed Christmas Goose with Apricots & Prunes Armagnac
Serves 6-8

1 cup pitted dried prunes, halved
1 cup pitted dried apricots, halved
1 cup Armagnac
1 12 to 14-pound Goose, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
8 cups cubed day-old French bread
1 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh sage
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 slices of bacon

Soak the prunes in the Armagnac for 2 hours. Remove any excess fat from the goose. Rinse the bird and dry it inside and out, then sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper; set aside. Stuff the cavity with the fruits and close the opening with poultry skewers.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic, celery and onion until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the bread and toss well. Then add the chopped parsley and sage. Drain the prunes, reserving the armagnac. Coarsely chop the prunes and the apricots, and add them and the armagnac to the stuffing. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Loosely stuff the goose with stuffing and pull the skin flap over the opening to seal the cavity. Lay the bacon slices across the breast. Place the goose, breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan in the centre of the oven, and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and continue to cook 18-20 minutes per pound, or until the goose reaches an internal temperature of 180° deep in the breast — for our 13 1/2-pound bird, we cooked it for 4 hours and 20 minutes.

Once cooked, remove the goose from the roasting pan and set aside, and allow to rest, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 20 minutes. While it's resting, make the Madeira Peppercorn Sauce. Serve the goose on a warmed platter and garnish with seasonal herbs, holly and berries.

Madeira Peppercorn Sauce
Makes 1 1/4 cups

Pan drippings from the roasted goose
4 cup chicken broth
1 cup Madeira
1 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp green peppercorns in brine, drained and lightly crushed
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Simmer the giblets in a saucepan with 4 cups chicken broth on low for one hour. When the goose is cooked, skim any remaining fat from the roasting pan, saving the prized elixir for future use. Scape up the remaining browned drippings with the Madeira, red wine and peppercorns, and simmer over medium heat  until bubbling, about 5 minutes. Add the giblet stock to the drippings as necessary, to make a light gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve in a warm gravy boat with the roast goose.

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