Turkey or Goose?


What are we like – even though we may momentarily flirt with the idea of having something new and exotic for Christmas dinner, in the end everyone just seems to crave the traditional favourites with all the trimmings, so which will it be, turkey or goose? Well I’m giving the recipes for both here with the favourite accompaniments. Hopefully by now you have already bought the bird, you could just slather it in butter or wrap it in butter soaked muslin but the traditional brining method so beloved by the Americans in particular perks up even an undistinguished turkey and brings it to a new level of flavour. Don’t forget to use the carcass to make a bowl of turkey broth. It has tons of flavour and is full of goodness – akin to Jewish penicillin as chicken broth is called.

When I was in Dublin at the Good Food Ireland awards a few weeks ago, Peter Caviston the charismatic fishmonger from Glasthule in Co Dublin arrived with a gorgeous Norfolk Black turkey reared by Sandra Higgins in Co Kildare.  It was ‘New York dressed’, still had all its insides intact in the time honoured way. I brought it home and hung it in a cold room for a further three weeks (years ago people would have hung the turkey in the garage which was like a fridge anyway during the ‘cold snap’.) Then I gutted it, made a delicious buttery herby stuffing and roasted it as below. It was absolutely scrumptious with a delicious mild gamey flavour, reminiscent of the flavour of turkeys years ago.

I didn’t tell the young people that I had hung the turkey with its innards in for three weeks until they had ‘oohed and aahed’ about how delicious it was and those who knew, where deeply sceptical until they tasted it.

The secret is in the hanging, so remember this for next year, order a bronze turkey well ahead, hang and prepare it in the time honoured way. If gutting the bird seems daunting in an era when so much of our food comes in a sanitised form wrapped in plastic on polystyrene trays – ask your Mum or Gran, it’s so much more fun to be able to do these things yourself, it’s easy and clean, and can be done in a matter of minutes.

Back to the goose one could use the turkey stuffing but traditionally a potato stuffing was used. I’ve added some mashed parsnip which is so good with the dark goose meat.

Don’t forget to save every scrap of the fat for roast potatoes – it will keep in jars in your fridge for months – remove the two chunky pieces of goose fat at the vent end and render those down separately 100°C/225ºF/gas mark ¼ for 30 minutes or more. They will produce about 8 – 10 fl oz of precious goose fat to use for roast potatoes. Red cabbage and mashed or roast parsnips and of course lots of crispy potatoes are favourite accompaniments to serve with goose and don’t forget the apple sauce and gravy.

San Francisco Chronicle Classic: Brined Turkey


Brining poultry and pork hugely enhances the flavour but doesn’t make it excessively salty. It is particularly beneficial if you cannot find a free range organic bird. This recipe is based on a tried and tested recipe which has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle several times because of its popularity.

How to prepare a turkey for brining and roasting

1 x 5.4kg -6.6kg (12-15 lb) turkey

225g (8oz) sugar

454 g – 510 g (15ozs-12 ozs) dairy salt

17 pints  (22 ½ litres) cold water

2 bay leaves, torn into pieces

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled

5 whole allspice or pimento berries, crushed

4 juniper berries, smashed

25g (1oz) softened butter and butter for basting

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

125 ml – 225 ml (4-8 fl ozs) chicken stock


Save the turkey giblets for stock. Rinse well with cold water. Mix the sugar, salt and 8 pints of water in a large bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the bay leaves, thyme, peeled garlic cloves, allspice (or pimento) and juniper berries.

Choose a large self-sealing or zip lock brining bag, put into a picnic cooler that is large enough to hold the turkey. Slip the turkey into the bag, pour in brine and remaining 7-8 pints water – there should be enough liquid to completely cover the bird. Press out the air in the bags.

Close the bag tightly. Keep the turkey cold by piling sealed bags of ice over and around the closed bag which will also help keep the turkey submerged. Brine for 12-24 hours.





Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F  / Mark 6. Remove the turkey from brine, rinse and dry well. Slather the softened butter over the breast and legs. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over skin and in cavity. Tuck the wing tips underneath, loosely truss the legs and transfer the turkey into a roasting tin. Cover the breast loosely with foil.

Put the turkey into the preheated oven. Roast for about 1 hour, baste the turkey with 112ml (4fl oz) of chicken or turkey stock. Return to oven and roast, basting with pan drippings every 20 minutes or so, use more stock if needed. If legs begin to brown too much, cover loosely with foil. Total roasting time should be about 2¼-3 hours. Let bird rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving. Make gravy with the juices. Serve with cranberry, bread sauce and lots of gravy.


Traditional Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing, Rose Geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce

A word of warning: a goose looks enormous because it has a large

carcass. Many people have been caught out by imagining that it will serve more people than it does. Ensure that you allow 450g (1lb) in cooked weight per person.

Serves 8-10

goose, about 4.5kg (10lb)

salt and freshly ground pepper

roux for the gravy (optional)



Giblet Stock

goose giblets

1 onion, sliced

1 carrot, chopped

bouquet garni

a sprig of thyme

4 parsley stalks

3 celery stalks, sliced

6 black peppercorns


Potato Stuffing

25g (1oz) butter

450g (½lb) onions, chopped

1 lb parsnips, peeled and blanched in boiling salted water

450g (1lb) Bramley Seedling, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon lemon balm

25ml (1 fl oz) fresh orange juice

900g (2lb) potatoes, in their jackets

1⁄4 teaspoon orange rind, finely grated

salt and freshly ground pepper



To Serve

Rose Geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce (see recipe)


To prepare the goose, gut the bird and singe off the pin feathers and down if necessary. Remove the wishbone from the neck end.

Combine the wishbone with the other stock ingredients in a saucepan, cover with cold water and the lid of the saucepan and simmer for 1 1/2–2 hours. Season the cavity of

the goose with salt and freshly ground pepper; also rub a little salt into the skin.

To make the potato stuffing, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes.

Then add the blanched parsnips, herbs and orange juice. Cook, covered, until the parsnips are fluffy.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked, peel, mash and add to the base mixture. Add the orange rind and seasoning.

Leave it to get quite cold before stuffing the goose.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Stuff the goose loosely, then roast it for about 2 hours or until the juices run clear. Prick the thigh at the thickest part to check the juices. If they are still pink, the goose needs to cook a little bit longer. When cooked, remove the bird to a serving dish and put it in a very low oven while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin (save the fat for sautéing or roasting potatoes – it keeps for months in a fridge). Add about 600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) of the strained giblet stock to the roasting tin and bring to the boil.

Use a small whisk to scrape the roasting tin well to dissolve the meaty deposits which are full of flavour. Taste for seasoning and thicken with a little roux if you like a thickened gravy. If the gravy is weak, boil it for a few minutes to concentrate the flavour; if it’s too strong, add a little water or stock.

Strain and serve in a hot gravy boat.

Carve the goose. Serve it, the rose geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce and the gravy separately.

Bramley Apple and Sweet Geranium Leaf Sauce

The secret of really good apple sauce is to use a heavy-based saucepan and very little water. The apples should break down into a fluff during the cooking.


450g (1lb) bramley cooking apples

2 teaspoons water

50g (2oz) sugar, or more depending on tartness of the apples

3-4 sweet geranium leaves, Pelagonium Graveolons optional


Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut the quarters in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan. Add the sugar, water and sweet geranium leaves if using, cover and cook over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, stir so it’s a uniform texture and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.


Old Fashioned Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing and Bread Sauce

If you’d rather not have the chestnuts, simply omit them from the stuffing, it will still be delicious.

Serves 12

4.5kg (10lb) free-range turkey with giblets

For the Giblet Stock

neck, gizzard, heart (save the liver for pâté )

2 carrots, sliced

2 onions, sliced

1 celery stalk

bouquet garni

4 peppercorns

For the Chestnut Stuffing

450g (1lb) chestnuts

175g (6oz) butter

350g (12oz) onions, chopped

400g (14oz) soft breadcrumbs

50g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs, e.g. parsley, thyme. chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm

salt and freshly ground pepper

For Basting the Turkey

melted butter

To Garnish

large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress

Remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey to make carving easier later. Then make the giblet stock by covering with cold water the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, vegetables, bouquet garni and black peppercorns. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 hours while the turkey is being prepared and cooked.

To make the stuffing, bring about 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water to the boil in a saucepan. Throw in the chestnuts and boil for 5–10 minutes, until the shell and inside skin peel off easily and the flesh should be soft. Pick them out one at a time and chop them finely. Melt the butter, and sweat the onions and chestnuts in it until soft. Add the breadcrumbs and herbs, taste and season carefully, mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time, allowing about 15 minutes per 450g (1lb) and 15 minutes over. Brush the turkey with melted butter (alternatively, smear well the breast, legs and crop with soft butter) and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover loosely with greaseproof paper and roast for about 11⁄2–2 hours.

The turkey is done when the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices to ensure they are clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin. Deglaze the pan juices with the giblet stock. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting tin. Boil it up, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning and serve in a warmed gravy boat.

If possible, present the turkey on your largest serving dish, surrounded by golden crispy potatoes and garnished with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly (make sure no one eats the berries though).

Serve with Bread Sauce and Cranberry Sauce.


Bread Sauce

Bread sauce sounds so dull. If I hadn’t been reared on it I might never have tried it. It is another ingenious way of using stale bread, I even love it cold!

Serves 12

450ml (16fl oz) milk

110g (4oz) breadcrumbs

2 onions, each stuck with 6 cloves

50g (2oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

110ml (4fl oz) thick cream

Bring to the boil in a small, deep saucepan all the ingredients except the cream and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and simmer gently on a very low heat or cook in a low oven at 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and add the cream just before serving. Correct the seasoning, and add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick. Serve hot.


Spiced Cranberry Sauce

We have the Americans to thank for the delicious combination of turkey with cranberry sauce. I’ve added spices to the classic version to give extra bite. If you prefer you can put all the spices in a muslin bag to save fishing out the hard spices at the end of cooking.

Serves about 6

450g (1lb) granulated sugar

125m (4fl oz) white wine vinegar

1⁄2 stick cinnamon

1 star anise

6 cloves

5cm (2in) piece of fresh ginger, peeled

1 chilli, split and seeded

450g (1lb) cranberries

lemon juice

Put the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger and chilli in a stainless-steel saucepan with 225ml (8fl oz) water. Bring to the boil. Add the cranberries, bring back to the boil and simmer very gently until the cranberries burst. Lift out the hard spices with a slotted spoon. Add a little lemon juice to taste. Serve warm or cold.


Red Cabbage with Caraway Seed

This red cabbage recipe sounds a bit dull no red wine or spices but it’s the most delicious one I know.

Serves 6–8

450g (1lb) red cabbage

450g (1lb) cooking apples (Bramley Seedling)

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1 level teaspoon salt

2 heaped tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons roughly ground caraway seeds

Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut in quarters, remove the core and slice the cabbage finely across the grain. Put the vinegar, caraway, salt and sugar into a cast-iron casserole or stainless-steel saucepan with 125ml (4fl oz) water. Add the cabbage and bring to the boil.

Peel and core the apples and cut into quarters (no smaller). Lay them on top of the cabbage, cover and continue to cook gently until the cabbage is tender, about 30–50 minutes. Do not overcook or the colour and flavour will be ruined. Taste for seasoning and add more sugar if necessary. Serve in a warm serving dish.



Rebel Chilli Sauces – I was blown away in the best possible way by Ken Moore’s Chilli Sauces when I tasted them recently at the Douglas Farmers Market. Ken is a Quantity Surveyor turned Chilli Sauce Maker – brilliant ‘hot Christmas pressie’ Ken’s Jalapeno and Raspberry Jelly is guaranteed to perk up even the dullest left overs and for the brave the Habanero with Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce – 0868049958. Also available at Mahon Point Farmers Market.


Cork’s English Market – for the first time ever the traders of the English Market are opening their gates until 9pm every night for Christmas week, also open Sunday 19th until 6pm. English Market Gift Vouchers now available – they make the perfect gift for anyone with an interest in good quality and reasonably priced food. Visit the English Market online www.englishmarket.ie


“Big Bird Day” with Claire’s Cheats and Treats. At Nash 19, Princes Street Cork, take the stress and hassle out of providing your family with the best, traditional Christmas foodie experience from home made plum puddings using Peter Ward’s of Country Choice fruits to Claire’s specially matured mincemeat. The list is available in the shop from 7:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8:30am til 5:00pm on Saturdays running up to Christmas week. You can also order bespoke hampers that are wrapped on Little Hill native timber chopping boards. 021 4270880 – www.nash19.com

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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