Goose versus turkey: goose is best, I believe. I serve it with mashed potatoes, frozen petits pois and apple sauce. If you must have a stuffing, chop up soft, stoned prunes with eating apples and raisins and shovel them into the cavity, remembering to add this to the total weight. Take out all the fat inside the cavity and render it down in a slow oven for later use (think roast potatoes). Prick the goose’s skin all over and shake a little salt on. Use a roomy roasting tin, as more fat will come off during cooking.
Roasting your goose
Heat your oven to 220˚C and roast the goose for 30 minutes. Then turn it down to 170˚C and roast it for 20 minutes per pound. If it’s not brown enough, turn up the heat. For an Aga, roast it in the hot oven for 2½ hours for a 9lb goose and three hours for a 10lb–11lb one. Allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Cold roast goose is delicious with more apple sauce and potatoes roasted in the surplus fat.
Sauce for the goose
Although it has more flavour than roast turkey, goose lacks the gamey notes of pheasant or partridge. What sets it apart is its natural fat that melts into the flesh and gives us luscious gravy, thus creating an indulgent dish. This means any vinous partner needs to mirror this form bold in fruit and flavour, but with enough structure to handle its intensity. Some reach for the nearest bottle of Pinot Noir or aged Syrah, but, for me, the perfect spouse for a goose will always be a particular breed of white wine aromatic, yet rich and masterful.
The best wine needs some gravitas behind it, and that’s what you find in 2006 Pierro Chardonnay Margaret River, Western Australia. Margaret River has the benefit of tons of sunshine, but the heat is tempered by cool ocean winds that give a Meursault-like wine, with more amplitude and daring. Alternatively, Chester Osborn, the colourful winemaker behind d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale, conjures up a radically different take on this theme, instead utilising Viognier and Marsanne in the 2006 d’Arenberg, The Hermit Crab. Marsanne brings nuances of hazelnuts, as well as a honeyed perfume, and Viognier adds fleshier notes of quince and apricot.
For the committed Franco-philes, Chapoutier blends white Grenache, Clairette and Bourboulenc in the 2007 Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Blanc, which has similar nutty characteristics. However, as you’d imagine, the wine has more linear acidity, and the fruit leans toward apricot kernels and almond blossom. These wines have the intensity of fruit and balancing acidity that roast goose requires, but the real bonus is the surprise you bring to the table when you serve white wine with a dish that most people associate with red.