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Roast Michaelmas Goose with Apples and Prunes

'Green' geese, which had fed on pasture, made a traditional feast for Michaelmas, in late September, and were less fatty than Christmas geese. in Ireland and northern England, it was thought that if you ate goose at Michaelmas you would have good luckfor the rest of the year. The roast bird was always accompanied by apples, as windfalls were plentiful. Geese are in season from September to December but are not widely stocked, so you will probably have to order in advance, especially for Christmas.

ingredients

serves 8
4 - 5 kg (9 - 11 lb) oven-ready goose, with giblets,
thawed if frozen
salt and pepper
15 g (1/2 oz) butter
1 large onion, skinned and chopped
450 g (1 lb) no-soak prunes
60 ml (4 tbsp) port
15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh sage or 5 ml (1 tsp) dried
100 g (4 oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
6 Cox's Orange Pippin apples
300 ml (1/2 pint) dry white wine

method

1. Prick the skin of the goose all over with a sharp skewer or fork and pull the inside fat out of the bird and reserve. Rub salt over the skin.

2. To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the onion and cook for 5 - 6 minutes, until softened. Separate the goose liver from the giblets and chop finely, then add to the onion and cook gently for 2-3 minutes.

3. Remove the stones from half of the prunes and discard. Chop the prunes roughly and stir into the onion with the port. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the sage and breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly together. Season the stuffing mixture to taste.

4. Spoon the stuffing into the neck end of the goose, then truss with strong cotton or fine string. Weigh the bird.

5. Put on a wire rack placed in a roasting tin. Cover the breast with the reserved fat and then with foil. Roast at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for 15 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 15 minutes, basting frequently.

6. Thirty minutes before the end of the cooking time, drain off the fat and discard. Core the apples and cut into eighths, then add to the tin with the remaining prunes and wine. Place the bird on top, standing on the roasting rack. Remove the foil and the fat and cook, uncovered, for the last 30 minutes.

7. Serve the roast goose with the cooking juices and the apples and the prunes. Plain boiled or mashed potatoes go well with the richness of goose. Braised red cabbage is also a traditional accompaniment.

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