Charlie Hibbert’s Christmas goose dinner

  • Main
  • medium
  • 4-6
  • 2 hours 10 minutes, plus 2 days prep time for the goose sauce and confit goose legs



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  • 1 goose, free-range and weighing approx. 5kg

To confit the legs


Fegato crostini (optional – requires the goose to come with its liver and heart)


Roast potatoes

Cranberry sauce

  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 300g of cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp of redcurrant jelly, heaped
  • 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

To finish

This dish needs to be started 2 days in advance – steps 2 to 19 need to be done on 23 December; steps 20 to 26 on Christmas Eve; then everything else on Christmas Day. The timings on Christmas Day assume you want to dish up at 2pm; if you have your Christmas dinner earlier or later than this, then adjust the start times accordingly
On 23 December, you need to take the breasts and legs off the goose, then make a goose stock and prepare the goose legs ready for the confit
To break down the goose, have the bird sitting on your board facing away from you. If your goose came with a liver and heart, keep them in the fridge to make the fegato later
  • 1 goose, free-range and weighing approx. 5kg
Using a sharp boning knife, cut between the leg and the body, pulling the leg away from you
Turn the goose as you work, cutting all away around where the leg and the body meet, until you expose the joint
When the joint is exposed, use your knife to cut through it, ensuring the small ‘oyster’ piece on the underside of the bird is removed along with the leg
Repeat this process with the other leg, then set both aside
Cut through the large cap of fat above the cavity of the bird and set aside – this will be rendered down for fat later
Cut off the other flap of fat from the front of the bird and set this aside too
Use your knife to cut a line down one side of the backbone
Continue cutting, using the goose carcass as a guide, to gradually separate the breast and wing from the bone
Once the breast is fully removed from the carcass, use your knife to separate the wing from the breast, then set the wing aside
Trim the excess fat from around the breast and set aside to render later
Once the breast is trimmed into a nice, neat shape, set aside and repeat with the other breast
If there are any large pieces of fat remaining on the carcass, trim these off and set aside with the rest of the reserved fat. You should now have a trimmed carcass, 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 wings and a pile of fat trimmings
Preheat an oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3
Place the goose legs in a bowl and coat with the salt, garlic and thyme, then cover and leave in the fridge overnight to cure. Keep the goose breasts in the fridge too, ready to cook on Christmas Day
Place the goose carcass on a rack over a deep roasting tray along with the fat trimmings and wings. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour until all the fat renders out of the various goose components and the carcass and wings are browned. Be warned – a large amount of fat will render out of the goose, so make sure your roasting tray is nice and deep
Once the fat has rendered, carefully pour it out into a heatproof container and reserve. Set the carcass and wings aside for the stock in the fridge, and discard any remaining pieces of fat. This is all you need to do today, so have a drink and relax!
On Christmas Eve morning, preheat the oven to 110°C/90°C fan/gas mark ¼. Brush the salt off the goose legs with a piece of kitchen paper, then place them in an ovenproof saucepan and cover with the rendered goose fat. Place in the oven, covered, for 3½ hours
Meanwhile, prepare the goose stock needed to make the gravy. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over a medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, peppercorns, garlic, bay, parsley and thyme. Stir well, turn up the heat a little and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is lightly browned, then add the goose carcass and wings. Cover with chicken stock – topping up with water if needed to ensure the carcass is fully submerged – then bring to a gently simmer over a low heat and cook for 5 hours. Do not let the stock boil, as this will incorporate any remaining fat into the stock, and top up with a little cold water if it reduces down too much
While the legs confit and the stock simmers, prepare the fegato. Melt 35g of the butter in a small pan over a medium-high heat, then when frothy, add the reserved goose liver and heart. Quickly brown for a minute on each side, then add the vin santo and brandy. Allow to bubble for a few seconds, then add in 4 tablespoons of the simmering goose stock. Leave to reduce by half – this shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes
  • 35g of unsalted butter, plus extra for spreading
  • 2 tbsp of vin santo, sweet sherry, Madeira or vermouth
  • 2 tbsp of brandy
Turn off the heat, then remove the liver and heart from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle, then finely chop with the anchovies, capers and sage. Add this mixture back into the pan and stir everything together, season with a little salt and pepper, then transfer into a small container or Kilner jar. Melt the remaining butter, then pour this over the fegato to seal it. Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve
After the goose legs have been cooking for 3½ hours, carefully lift them out of the fat and place in a container. Cover and set aside in the fridge, reserving the fat for the potatoes tomorrow
Once the stock has been gently simmering away for 5 hours, gently pour it through a sieve into a clean saucepan, discarding the solids. Return the stock to a medium heat and reduce until it is thickened, rich and dark (this should take around 45 minutes to an hour). Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like a gravy – you’ll be reducing it again tomorrow. Leave the sauce to cool, then store in the fridge. This is everything you need to do on Christmas Eve, so get on with wrapping presents!
At 11.50am on Christmas Day, start cooking the sprouts. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. While you wait for the water to boil, render and brown the diced pancetta in a frying pan over a medium heat until crisp, then turn off the heat
Add the sprouts to the boiling water and boil for 6 minutes, then drain and immediately cool in running cold water to halt the cooking process. Set aside
  • 400g of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
In a separate ovenproof pan over a medium heat, add the confit goose legs skin-side down and cook for 2 minutes, until they begin to brown. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, crisping the skin, then remove and set aside until cool enough to handle (be careful – the fat will be very hot when they come out of the oven). Turn the oven up to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6
Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place them in a large pan of cold, generously seasoned water and bring to the boil. Leave to cook until they are beginning to fall apart – the braver you are, the better the roastie!
While the potatoes cook, pick the confit goose leg meat and skin off the bones. Roughly chop the crispy skin into a crumb and set aside, then roughly chop the meat and set aside with the sprouts. Discard the bones
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander and leave to steam-dry for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, add a few generous tablespoons of reserved goose fat to a roasting dish large enough to accommodate all the potatoes with plenty of space, then place this in the oven for 10 minutes to heat the fat
Once the fat is hot, carefully transfer the potatoes to the dish, stirring to ensure they are coated thoroughly in the goose fat. Return to the oven and cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring halfway through
While the potatoes roast, prepare the cranberry sauce. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan, cover with a lid and place over a high heat. Allow to come to the boil, then give the pan a good shake, remove it from the heat and allow to cool (with the lid still on)
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 300g of cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp of redcurrant jelly, heaped
  • 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
At around 1.35pm, it’s time to begin cooking the goose breasts. Place the reduced goose stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer
Increase the temperature of the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Leave the potatoes in the oven if they’re not ready yet, until they’re looking golden and crispy, then toss with the garlic, rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil and keep warm. Meanwhile, place a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat with a dash of rapeseed oil
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1 dash of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil
Season both sides of the goose breasts with salt, and the flesh side only with pepper. Place the breasts skin-side down in the hot pan and allow the fat to render and the skin to crisp for 5 minutes. After this time, flip the breasts and transfer the pan to the oven for 12 minutes
Transfer the breasts to a warm plate and set aside to rest for at least 8 minutes. Meanwhile, add a glug of olive oil and red wine vinegar to the pan the breasts were cooked in to deglaze it, scraping all the caramelised pieces off the bottom of the pan vigorously. Add this mixture to the simmering sauce, which should have reduced to around 300ml by now. Whisk in a large knob of butter, taste for seasoning, the keep it gently simmering away until you’re ready to serve
  • 1 dash of olive oil
  • 1 dash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 knob of unsalted butter
Now it’s time to finish cooking the sprouts. Take the pan with the pancetta and pancetta fat in it and place over a medium heat. Throw in the sprouts, confit goose leg meat and chestnuts, tossing to ensure everything is combined. Keep on the heat for a few minutes to warm through, then season to taste, add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir through the parsley. Top with the crispy goose skin
To finish the fegato, butter the sourdough bread on both sides and fry until crisp and toasted. Spread a thin layer of the pâté on the toasts and place on a warm plate with some cornichons (if desired)
  • 4 slices of sourdough
  • cornichons, to serve (optional)
Check the potatoes are still warm – if they need it, place them back in the oven for a few minutes while you bring everything else to the table. Carve the goose breasts into slices on the diagonal, then transfer to a warm platter (pouring any remaining resting juices into the sauce). Pour the sauce into a warmed jug, the cranberry sauce into a bowl, then bring everything to the table and serve those hungry, drooling guests, with a bunch of watercress on the plate for colour if desired. Merry Christmas!
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