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Free range, slowly reared goose makes a fantastic alternative to turkey.

Much more moist and flavoursome, with skin that goes wonderfully crisp, roasting Goose lends an added sense of luxury and indulgence to the festive meal. Despite its size, goose does not carry that much meat and an average size bird, weighing 4-6 kg will probably only feed 6-8 people with enough scraps for leftovers perfect for serving up as Aromatic crispy duck; in pancakes with plum sauce and finely shredded cucumber and spring onion.

1. 24 hours before you want to start cooking: bring a kettle to the boil. Using a wire coat hanger, fashion a hook from which the goose can hang. Pour hot water all over the goose and then suspend the goose in a cool area with plenty of air moving through it. A clean space in a garage or shed works well as long as it is out of reach from any potential scavengers.

2. Prepare the stuffing by chopping the onion and apple in largish chunks. Put in a large mixing bowl. Add 2/3 of the prunes, the spices and seasoning as well as 150ml Armagnac - more if it doesn't cover most of the onion and apple. Cover tightly with cling film and keep cool over night.

3. Put remaining prunes with 75ml Armagnac in a small saucepan and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. Leave to infuse over night.

4. When getting ready to cook: pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Fill the entire cavity of the goose with the stuffing. Close the bird using two metal skewers to keep the stuffing in. Season the skin with extra salt and pepper.

5. Place the goose on a rack over a large roasting tin and put in the pre-heated oven.

6. Keep an eye on the goose fat - it will drip into the roasting tin in copious amounts. Drain off at various stages of cooking. If you aim to collect the goose fat make sure to decant regularly or the fat will become blackened and bitter.

7. Roast the goose for 45-50 minutes per hour. There's no denying that roasting a goose fills the kitchen - in fact the entire house - with smoke. However, the wonderful aroma of seasonal spices and heady scent of Armagnac compensates for that.

8. The goose should be served with crisp roast potatoes, cooked in goose fat and sprinkled with plenty of sea salt; aromatic, unctuous red cabbage and the whole prunes in Armagnac.

9. For the potatoes, follow normal procedures for roast potatoes, using goose fat.

10. When getting ready to carve, gently heat the prunes to be served on the side and arrange the goose with its soft and aromatic stuffing.

For the Red Cabbage:

1. Halve and quarter the red cabbage. Remove some of the tough inner core then shred.

2. Peel, halve and chop the onion finely. Peel and roughly chop the apple.

3. Melt the goose fat in a large, heavy cast iron pan. Add the shredded cabbage, chopped onion and apple. Stir while these take on a nice shiny gloss from the hot fat. Add the golden syrup and stir over fairly high heat for another minute or two. Add the vinegar, jelly or black currant drink and spices, incl some of the salt and pepper. Pour over the red wine and about a third of the water.

4. Cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to simmer for approximately 2 hours. Give the red cabbage a stir, and check the seasoning, every now and then. As and when, top up with a little more water. Good red cabbage is all about balancing sweet and sour, as well as getting the overall seasoning right. You may find that you want to add a little more of something.

5. The cabbage should be veering towards tawny in colour, and have a mellow, aromatic and well balanced flavour by the time it is cooked.

6. It will only benefit from being made a day or two in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to be served. Gently reheat, adding a tablespoon of butter to lend shine.

Recipe provided by


1 free range goose

8 aromatic apples

3 yellow onions

2 large bags of Agen prunes

150ml Armagnac

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon ground all-spice

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Plenty of Maldon sea salt

75ml Armagnac

1/3 of the prunes

1 tablespoons of caster sugar

For the Red Cabbage:

1 large head of red cabbage

2 generous tablespoons of goose fat

1 aromatic apple

1 small red onion

40ml/1 fl oz golden syrup

2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

5-6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

A pinch of allspice

2 tablespoons red currant or other fruit jelly, or concentrated black currant drink

1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

50ml red wine

50-100ml water

1 tablespoon butter

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