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By Charlie Clapp

I can always tell when Christmas is around the corner because the world begins to smell a little different: clear, crisp days teamed with smoky wood fires and rich earthy stews – bliss after a summer of freshly cut grass and the heady scent of melting tarmac. Being a food lover, the thing I look forward to the most during the run up to Christmas is thinking about what we’re going to eat – happily we’re having the big day at our house this year, so I get to choose.

So, what to have, what to have? Obviously there’s the classic turkey – the beast that feeds the 5,000 and then some. But it’s going to be a small gathering this year, so I think I’ll go quality over quantity and opt for the goose.

Out of all the birds, goose is possibly my favourite – golden, crisp skin and deliciously succulent, dark meat that shreds off the bone. There’s nothing like it really. Just remember to buy free range and from a trustworthy butcher – it will make the biggest difference in flavour.

Jamie taught me the best way to cook a goose. You can even do it the day before if you like – once cooked just shred the meat from the bone and breast, place it all in an earthenware dish and toss through the gorgeous fat from the bird along with a squeeze of clementine juice and a handful of sage leaves. Or do it the Jamie way, with pomegranate. On the day, just reheat when you’re ready, pour away the fat and tada!

Back to the start though; rub the goose all over with five-spice powder and leave to marinate for a good few hours or overnight in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 170°C. Prick the large lump of fat inside the goose’s cavity with a fork, then pop a halved clementine inside along with some sprigs of rosemary and a little grated ginger. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place a large roasting tray on the bottom of the oven then put the duck (breast side up) on the rack above – the tray will catch all those lovely juices and fat from the goose that you will most certainly want to keep.

Roast for 3-4 hours, or until the skin is crisp and golden and the meat is cooked through, then remove to a board to rest for at least half an hour. If you’re making this the day ahead just shred the whole lot, cover with fat, clementine juice and sage and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to reheat – you could also make a gravy with the remaining bones. If you’re serving on the day, make your gravy while your bird is resting. Pour out most of the fat into a sterilised jar – this will keep in the fridge for months and is amazing for roast potatoes, stews and gravies – then put the roasting tray straight on the hob and add a heaped tablespoon of flour. Begin to mix with the lovely juices, scraping off the dark sticky bits from the bottom. Once you have a nice thick paste, add a good splash of red or white wine (whatever you’re drinking), and continue stirring so you don’t get lumps. Finish with either chicken stock or the water from your cooked veg. Allow to bubble and thicken, add a dollop of cranberry jelly, season to taste, strain and serve generously over your succulent goose and classic Christmas veg.

So there we have it. That’s what we’ll be eating this Christmas. What about you guys?

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