Christmas might look a little different this year, but the merriment of the festive feast certainly shouldn't, says Philippa Davis, as she shares her tips on how to cook the perfect goose

With smaller gatherings this year, the larder might not be so outrageously full but the centrepiece should still be impressive, says Philippa Davis. A depleted guest list calls for the perfect goose, and here is how you should cook it.

Being inventive with the leftovers is the best part of the festive feast. Read how to use the Christmas leftovers for plenty of inspiration, from bread sauce croquettes to turkey tacos.

HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT GOOSE

When buying your free-range or organic British whole goose allow about 450g per person.

Ingredients

Stuffing mix

  • 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 sticks rosemary
  • Small bunch of thyme
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 apple, roughly chopped

To scatter

  • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 6 fresh bay leaves

Take your goose out of the fridge at least one hour before cooking so it comes to room temperate.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/ gas mark 7.

Remove the giblets and any lumps of fat from the cavity then check the weight of your bird to calculate cooking time.

Lightly roast the giblets for your gravy.

Pat the goose dry and prick all over, particularly under wings and around thighs. This helps the fat disperse when cooking; try not to pierce the meat.

Rub the skin generously with salt.

Mix the stuffing ingredients then season the cavity and stuff the mix inside.

To cook, select a roasting tin large enough for your goose to sit in but that will fit in your oven then scatter the onions, celery, etc, over the bottom.

Place the goose breast side down and roast on the bottom/middle shelf for 30 minutes.

Turn the goose breast side up, lower the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 and cook for 30 minutes per kilo, basting every half hour and pouring off the fat at least three times. The fat makes excellent roast potatoes or is great for making confit partridge legs at a later date. To check your goose is cooked, insert a sharp knife into the fattest part of the leg; the juices should run clear.

Remember the goose will take a little longer if the oven is packed with other dishes and the door keeps being opened. However, always start testing to see if it is done about 45 minutes before the end of cooking time.

Once cooked, move the bird to a serving platter and rest for 30 minutes loosely covered with foil. This gives the juices time to distribute, the meat
a chance to relax and you time to make gravy with the cooked veggies and liquid in the pan, along with the roasted giblets.