We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Christmas Day is a traditional feast day so we are expected to cook something either traditional or tasty. We have done all of the things: turkey, goose, roast beef, crown roast of pork with apple stuffing (wow - good), etc.
On the other hand, the Italians do a cool thing - they do their Christmas Eve fish dinner because it is a vigilia di magro (fasting, Italian-style).That is darn good. Fried baccala, fried calamari, scungilli, clams, mussels, maybe lobster etc etc. I love the baccala, and those little fried minnows bagiggi - smelt - with lemon that you eat whole like french fries, and clams (if they aren't cooked), but I hate those cold seafood salads - dolphin bait. In Sicily, the tradition is seven fishes.
But back to Yankee Christmas dinner, and goose.
As regular readers know, for the Canada geese we shoot we usually cook the breast only, marinated and sauteed rare. We confit the legs and thighs. For Christmas goose, you need to cook the whole bird.
Supermarket goose tends much smaller (maybe in Dickens' time they had bigger farm geese - if you can find a giant Christmas goose as big as Tiny Tim, great), and has more fat on it. In fact, it seems about 50% fat, which oozes out during cooking and fills the pan below. If you want to cook that traditional English bird, you need a few of them. I would say, one per 3-4 people if you are using the supermarket birds. (Some might disagree with this.) One bird will not do it, as a turkey does, because once the fat melts off, there isn't much left except bones. The plus side of all of the fat is that they are self-basting.
Overcooking a pair (brace) of whole geese, at low heat, is not a bad idea. For a roast goose, you may really want the meat falling off the bone, unlike a nice rare breast of wild goose. Goose is, of course, a dark meat like duck (but more coarse in flavor, I think). Stuff them with apples and onions and things, but don't eat the stuffing.
Make a tasty sauce out of the drippings, once you have removed the fat. Add a little red wine, maybe a handful of huckleberries or dried cranberries and a bit of sugar, and reduce/thicken.
What to serve with goose? Mainly braised and sauteed roots. Parsnip, carrot, potato, turnip. And how about a rutabaga puree? I love the mentholy flavor of parnips and rutabaga. Or a celeriac (celery root) puree? Maybe a pile of braised, sauteed baby squash, too. Cranberry sauce? You betcha.
Are store geese delicious? Not really. It's more of a tradition than an epicurian experience.
This recipe is pretty good. Definitely use the goose fat to roast the potatoes in. Toss some Rosemary into the pan with the potatoes. Salt and pepper. Potato heaven.
Christmas goose was served in my German family. The post-Christmas treat was "Gänse Schmaltz"... congealed goose fat smeared on bread or toast and sprinkled with salt. Perhaps not culturally appealing to us today, but delicious nonetheless.
Schmalz was/is an important Jewish food - basically used like margarine, because Jewish law prohibits mixing meat and dairy in the same meal.
Jews in Germany, Alsace, Eastern Europe and Hungary were often in the poultry business because it didn't require land, which they were often prohibited from owning.
If you render your own fat, the chopped skin becomes crispy morsels after the water is cooked out - these are called "gribenes" or "greiven" in Yiddish. Try sprinkling these on your Schmalz along with the salt.
Your food posts always make me hungry. The Italian info is interesting. I don't think I've ever seen it explained in writing. You nailed the Christmas Eve tradition exactly.
On Christmas, in my family and in a few other Italian families I've known, we do a two track celebration. Traditional American fare alongside an Italian dinner -- e.g. Turkey and lasagna. Sounds strange, but it works for us.
We used to rear our own Embden geese: http://www.domestic-waterfowl.co.uk/embden.htm.
As Bird Dog says , there isn't a lot in the way of leftovers, but one bird was enough for about 8. The tradition in England is a sage and onion stuffing and apple sauce (if you can't get the gooseberries) to cut the grease.
A little overcooked, the skin is fantastic and the breast exquisite. We used to serve it together with a roast sirloin of beef for Christmas and my mouth is watering now at the thought.
The goose fat is much treasured by cooks and we used to get a couple of pints from a 20lb bird.