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It Doesn't Have To Be Turkey Every Year

What’s Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander crack

As we hit the festive season we look at the latest Christmas dinner trends and explore the best way to cook your turkey, goose or even rabbit this year.

Turkey is the obvious choice but it seems this year there is a spirit of adventure. Goose is now fighting turkey for the title of Britain’s best-selling bird this Christmas. Although, not to be outshone by its feathered friend, the turkey is also seeing unprecedented sales with traditional breeds flying off the shelves.

In a poll of 2,400 readers, BBC Good Food Magazine found that turkey is still the most popular centre-piece. Sales of other seasonal meats are also soaring, with British beef sales up 20%, while gammon is on the rise with one in 10 families tucking into this succulent joint at the dinner table. Here are two of the magazine’s recipes to keep you on trend this Christmas:

Cider roast turkey

For the turkey:
4.5 to 6kg turkey, giblets removed and kept
450g stuffing
2 leeks, trimmed and halved
2 carrots, halved
50g butter, softened
300ml dry cider

For the gravy:
300ml dry cider
600ml chicken stock
2tbsp quince or redcurrant jelly

- Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Wash and dry the turkey, removing any feathers. Pull out the giblets and the neck, then set aside. Lift up the skin that covers the neck opening, then stuff the stuffing up and under the skin, securing it tightly underneath with a skewer or two cocktail sticks. Weigh the stuffed turkey, then calculate the cooking time, allowing 40 mins per kg (20 mins per lb). Put the leeks and carrots along the bottom of a roasting tin in a single layer to make a trivet for the turkey to sit on and add flavour to the gravy. Add the neck to the tin. Sit the turkey on top, coat the breast all over with butter. Pour in the cider, cover with foil, then roast according to your timings. Keep checking the tin - if the vegetables look like they’re burning, splash with water or cider. At 30 mins before the end of cooking, remove the foil and season generously.

To test that the turkey is ready, pierce the thigh through its thickest part; the juices should run clear. Take the turkey out and leave to rest, covered with a clean tea towel. Leave to rest for up to 1 hour. Now make the gravy. Drain the fat and juices from the tin into a jug, discarding the veg and the neck. Place the tin over a flame, then pour in the cider, scraping up the flavour-filled crusty bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce the cider by half, then strain into a saucepan.

Christmas goose with root veg, sticky pears and bramble gravy

For the goose:
4 to 5kg oven-ready goose, trussed for roasting
2 oranges
4 bay leaves
Bunch thyme
3 tbsp sunflower oil
8 medium carrots, peeled but left whole
8 medium parsnips, peeled but left whole
4 turnips, peeled and halved or quartered

For the bramble gravy:
1tbsp golden caster sugar
100ml good-quality red wine vinegar
Half a jar bramble jelly (Tiptree does a good one, or use blackberry jam)
100ml strong chicken stock

For the pears:
6 pears
2tbsp icing sugar
Large bag watercress, to serve

Remove all the fat from inside the bird and use a skewer to prick the goose skin all over, especially under the wings. If you have time to spare (although this isn’t essential), sit the goose in a sink, then slowly and carefully pour over 3 kettles of boiling water. Dry with kitchen paper, then leave for 1 hour or so to dry completely. This will help the skin to crisp.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Season the goose cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with the oranges, bay leaves and the thyme. Rub the breast and legs with 2 tbsp oil and season generously with salt. Lay the carrots in the middle of a very large roasting tin. Sit the bird the right way up on top of the carrots. In a bowl, toss the parsnips and turnips with the rest of the oil and bay leaves, then scatter around the goose. Cover the tin with a large piece of foil, scrunching it up at the sides so it’s a tight fit. Place the goose in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Take the goose out of the oven. Remove the foil and carefully use a baster to suck out most of the fat from the tin into a bowl. Lightly baste the goose and turn the parsnips. Re-cover with foil and roast for another 1 1/2 hours. Suck the fat from the pan again and baste, then increase the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Return to the oven without any foil to brown for a final 30-40 mins until golden brown. Remove the goose from the oven and transfer to a large board or platter to rest in a warm-ish place for 30 mins. Scoop the vegetables out into another roasting tin and keep warm in a low oven. Keep the goose tin to make the gravy in.

To make the gravy, remove the oranges from the goose using tongs. Pour off all the fat from the roasting tin into a bowl. Scatter the sugar into the tin and stir to scrape off any tasty brown bits. Splash in the vinegar, simmer down until practically dry, then stir in the jelly to dissolve, bubble and cook down. Finally, add the stock and squeeze in the juice from the oranges. Bring everything to the boil, strain into a jug or small saucepan to reheat later.

Peel and halve the pears. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the cores, then cut the pears into quarters. In a bowl, toss the pears in the icing sugar until completely coated. Heat a large frying pan over a high flame and add the pears to the pan. Cook for 1 min or so, tossing constantly, until the pears are really well caramelised and slightly burnt around the edges. Serve the goose on a platter surrounded by watercress and pear wedges. Serve the slow-roasted vegetables in a separate bowl and the gravy in a gravy boat.