Getting the goose is easy enough: we get ours from Northfield Farm.
Cooking the goose is easy enough: since 2003 we’ve used the wonderful recipe from The Daily Telegraph.
But what to do with the giblets is another story. I used to freeze them, with good intentions, and then throw them away a year or two later. A terrible waste. Then last year I found out, from somewhere, how to make a gravy from them (or sauce: I never quite know the difference). This year I couldn’t find that recipe again, but I patched together a few recipes I found around the place and the sauce was a stunning success. Here is a record of what I did: for Posterity, and, more importantly, for me for next year:
Make the stock
Goose giblets (apart from the liver)
A large onion
A stick of celery
A bay leaf or so
Half a dozen black peppercorns
Halve each of the giblets – heart, kidneys, and so on, to give more surface for the water to attack them. Make cuts on both sides of the neck, with the same aim. Quartered the onion, cut the carrot into half lengthways, and chop the celery into chunks.
Put the giblets and the onion into a saucepan, covered them with cold water and bring them to the boil. A lot of scum will rise to the surface: skim it off. Add the other ingredients, bring it all to the boil again, and reduce it to a simmer. Simmer it for 3 hours.
Strain it through a colander. Keep both the stock and the giblets: the vegetables can be discarded. The stock will be watery and won’t taste of much. Don’t worry.
Put the stock in a saucepan and boil it hard to reduce it. I do this by setting a kitchen timer to go off every 8 minutes, which means that I’ll see when it’s reduced enough for use without discovering that it’s burnt to the bottom of the pan and I have to throw the pan away.
(An ingenious idea which I had too late but will try next year is to measure the volume of the sauceboat(s) I’ll be using and measure how high up the saucepan that amount of liquid would come, because that tells me how far I should be aiming to reduce the stock).
While the stock is reducing, chop the giblets into as small pieces as you can manage. Remove the meat from the neck and do the same to it.
Make the sauce
Once the stock is reduced enough, tip the giblets into it and mix it all up. It will be grey and lumpy and taste of not much. There will also be more of it than there was, because the chopped giblets take up space.
Let it cool down to some extent, and whizz it up in the blender. This will make the sauce smooth, though thick. It will still be grey and tasteless.
Boil it up, and simmer it a bit to reduce it. Add some salt to bring out the flavour (remarkably little is needed). Grind some black pepper into it. If you have some red wine around, tip a glass or so into it.
This can all be done the day before. Reduce the sauce down a bit, to the volume you actually want, let it cool, and put it in the fridge.
The next day, the sauce will probably have set into a delightful mousse. Resist the temptation to eat most of it with a spoon. Instead, bring it to the boil and pour a substantial slug of brandy into it. Let it simmer for a few moments, take it off the heat and pour it into the sauceboat(s).
It will still look grey, but it will be outrageously delicious. I think the brandy makes all the difference.
The above recipe is not what I did, in two respects.
- When I went to Northfield Farm’s stall at Borough Market to collect the goose, someone hadn’t wanted their giblets, so I got an extra packet, which made the sauce extra thick.
- I’d made a stock from the bones of a roast duck we’d had for Christmas, so I added it to the goose stock when making the sauce.
And the goose liver?
Opinions vary. Some people say that it goes grey and bitter through long cooking, or recommend adding it only at the last moment. So I’ve kept the liver aside altogether and I’m going to see what happens if I dust it with flour and fry it lightly.
H did a comparative analysis on the web and many people recommend sautéing the giblets for 5 minutes, or even sautéing the vegetables too. I’m not convinced, since the idea is surely to get the flavour out of the giblets into the stock, but perhaps it may make the final sauce more brown and less grey. After all, some people roast bones before making stock out of them.