Roast a goose for a traditional Dickens Christmas dinner

After half a century of relative obscurity, the goose is making a return appearance at holiday tables. If you are deterred by the cost of $5 or $6 a pound for a fresh one, you can buy one at your local supermarket frozen and ready to prepare.

Did you ever wonder how the definition of goose came to mean "a silly person?" Surely a bird smart enough to honk and alert the Gauls to a sneak attack on their city deserves a more flattering description.

Geese are better guards than watchdogs. A nurseryman in New Jersey has a gaggle of geese to protect his shrubs, peat moss, and top soil from pilferers. In scotland, geese are often used as factory guards. In the United States they have been used to guard missile sites.

Goose is very traditional in Europe at Christmas, and cooking it is a culinary art. The following is an Eastern European recipe, quite a change from our traditional goose with sage-onion stuffing. Roast Goose With Apple-Sauerkraut Stuffing 4 cups sauerkraut (2 16-ounce cans) 19 to 11 pound goose 2 cups apples, peeled and cubed 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed

About 4 hours before serving, heat sauerkraut and its liquid to boiling in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover pan and cook 30 minutes. DRAin and rinse.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove giblets and neck, rinse, and with twotined fork prick bird in several places.

Add apples, salt, and caraway seed to drained sauerkraut and lightly spoon into cavity. Skewer neck skin to back. With string, tie legs and tail together. Insert meat thermometer into center of thigh next to body, being careful that thermometer does not touch any bone.

Place goose, breast side up, on rack in open roasting pan. Roast 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 hours or until meat thermometer reaches 190 degrees F. and thigh is tender when pierced with a fork. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes for easier carving. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Roast Goose With Mashed Potato Stuffing 5 1/4 cup buter or margarine 1 1/2 cups milk 2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1 egg, beaten 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, lightly packed 12-pound goose 1 tablespoon salt

Pare, boil, and mash potatoes. ADd next 7 ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.Now remove neck and giblets, discarding fat from body cavity; rinse and drain. Rub inside of bird with 1 tablespoon salt. Fill with potato stuffing. Skewer neck skin to back of goose. With string, tie legs and tail together. Place breast side up in open roasting pan.

Bake on rack uncovered in 325-degree f. oven to 3 to 4 hours, or until tender. Do not prick skin to release fat during baking. Boil giblets in small amount of salted water until tender. Chop and add to drippings along with their cooking broth for gravy, or reserve liver to make pate de fois gras spread. Serves 10 to 12.

Rather than the traditional sage stuffing, you may prefer a fruity combination. Mixed Fruit Cranberry Stuffing 12-ounce package mixed dried fruit, chopped 1 medium onion, minced 1 16-ounce package cranberries 1 cup sugar 5 cups lightly packed, day-old bread cubes 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon allspice

About 45 minutes before stuffing goose, pit prunes and combine with other dried fruits and onion in a 2-quart saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and over high heat, bring to a boil. REduce heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Pour into large bowl.

In same pan, over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup water, cranberries, and sugar to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer 7 minutes, or until berries pop, stirring occasionally. Drain liquid from berries. Add berries to fruit mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Toss lightly. Makes about 8 cups of stuffing, enough for an 8-to 10-pound bird.

If you prefer, instead of filling the goose with stuffing, spoon it into a casserole and bake it for about 30 minutes along with the bird, which of course cooks more quickly without stuffing.

For a beautiful garnish, surround your golden goose with stuffed oranges or baked apples. Stuffed Oranges 4 large oranges 8 dates 4 teaspoons chopped walnuts 4 teaspoons raisins 4 tablespoons sugar 1 egg white stiffly beaten 4 teaspoons grated coconut

Cut a thin slice from stem end of oranges. Cut triangles evenly from top and remove centers. Dice pulp and combine with dates, walnuts, raisins, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Fill orange shells and bake in a casserole with 1/2 inch of water in a 300-degree F. oven 45 minutes. Fold beaten egg white and remaining sugar together. Remove oranges from oven; top with egg mixture. Sprinkle with coconut and return to oven for 15 minutes. Serves 4. REcipe can be doubled or tripled.

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