Chet’s Roast Goose, Chestnut & Pear Greens
Chet sat down to talk Christmas traditions and cooking essentials with Mr Porter. Read the condensed article below as well as the recipe for Chet’s own Christmas roast goose, chestnut and pear with perfect roast potatoes.
The Christmas feast is a paradox. On the one hand, it’s the one time of year it’s acceptable to go all out in the kitchen, splurging on luxe ingredients and serving multiple courses. On the other, it represents a real challenge for the home cook. How does someone more used to catering for four suddenly scale it up to 14, with a single oven and under the influence of the champagne they’ve been necking since 8.00am? How do you keep the flavours interesting while pleasing the traditionalists? We’ve asked for some seasonal guidance from three star British chefs, who share their advice and recipes befitting the feasting season below.
“Everyone expects chefs to be super confident when cooking for their family,” says Mr Chet Sharma, chef-patron of BiBi, a contemporary Indian restaurant in Mayfair, London. “But it’s the most difficult day for any of us. I want to be prepared so I’m not scrambling around in the kitchen. I make a list and plot out every hour from 8.00am on Christmas Eve, including a good break to go to the pub. I’ll have all my vegetables prepped and potatoes parboiled.”
Don’t forget to get your meat to room temperature – a crucial step for even cooking. “Bring it out of the fridge for at least two hours before cooking,” he says.
Mr Paul Ainsworth, chef-patron at Michelin-starred No 6 in Padstow, Cornwall, agrees it’s all in the prep. “Make things such as gravy and stuffing in advance,” he says. “Most households have only one oven and it can be so hectic trying to get it all done.”
“You don’t need three types of potatoes or 15 different dishes,” says Sharma. “The key is to do one and do it really well.”
Source your meat carefully
“Get your meat from small, local independent butchers and buy the best quality you can,” says Mr Josh Katz, chef-patron of Berber & Q and the recently opened Camel in London, who specialises in Middle Eastern and North African-influenced sharing dishes and live-fire cookery.
“I’ll be sourcing my goose from a farm shop near where I live,” says Sharma. “There are online retailers such as The Ethical Butcher and Farmison, which do a brilliant job. As a chef, I want to make my job easy and that starts with sourcing the best produce I can afford.”
Don’t neglect the vegetables
“I like to make sure there are lots of bright, wintry colours,” says Katz. “A plate of purple beetroot, pumpkin purée or roasted carrots and ruby red cabbage. Texture is important, too. Try to balance softer vegetables with crispy potatoes.”
Ainsworth also treats veg with as much care as the meat. “For things such as green beans and broccoli, steam with just 3 or 4cm water, butter and seasoning. If you just boil, you’ll lose all the flavour. Hardier veg, such as parsnips, cauliflower and onions, I’d always roast.”
The all-important potatoes? “I like to cook them in goose fat with a bit of mustard powder, crushed garlic and turmeric,” says Ainsworth. “It adds a lovely warmth.” Or try them confit, as in Sharma’s recipe below. “It’s similar to how we do them in the restaurant and is the best way to guarantee a soft, creamy middle with that glassy exterior,” he says.
Mr Chet Sharma’s roast goose, chestnut and pear greens and perfect roast potatoes
“This is how I’ll be cooking goose this Christmas. It’s a treat, but it’s such a great bird and doesn’t get used enough. The bitterness and fruitiness from the greens and pear lift everything up.”
1 free-range organic goose (4.5-4kg)
Salt and white pepper, for seasoning
1 garlic bulb, sliced in half
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1kg chicken wings
2 litres white chicken stock
5 sprigs of thyme, picked and chopped
01. Take the legs off the goose (or ask your butcher to do this). Rub a generous pinch of salt and white pepper into one half of the garlic bulb, then rub into the skin side of the goose legs. Leave for 1-2 hours at room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160˚C fan (180˚C non-fan).
02. Layer half carrots, onions and celery in the bottom of a roasting tray, mix with the chicken wings and any other trimmings from the goose. Top with the legs, cover with tin foil and roast for 1 hour (set the crown aside).
03. To make the sauce, take the legs out of the tray and put 2 tbsp goose fat from the tray into a large pan. Add the remaining vegetables to the pan and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and the goose trimmings and chicken legs to the pan along with the white chicken stock, or water. Leave to simmer for at least 2 hours.
04. Meanwhile, turn the oven up to 230˚C (250˚C non-fan). Score and season the goose crown with salt. Place the legs on the base of a clean roasting tray. Top with the goose crown and place in the oven. Roast for 25 minutes, or until a meat probe placed in the thickest part registers more than 50˚C and the skin is nicely rendered.
05. Remove the goose crown, brush with honey and season again with salt, white pepper and thyme. Place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Remove the crown and legs from the oven and leave to rest on a plate, covered in foil, for 1 hour.
06. To finish the sauce, strain the goose fat from the tray and pour in the port, brandy and madeira to deglaze the tray over a medium heat on the hob. Strain the goose stock from the pan, add the contents of the deglazed tray, and cook down until you have a thick, glossy gravy. Season to taste.
Chestnut and pear greens
1 tsp mustard oil
50g smoked bacon, cut into lardons
200g peeled chestnuts
400g seasonal greens, such as sprout tops, chard or cavolo nero, washed and sliced
100ml white chicken stock
1 Asian (nashi) pear, diced
Half a lemon (optional)
01. Heat the mustard oil until smoking hot. Leave to cool down. This removes the really intense and harsh flavour raw mustard oil can have.
02. Add the smoked bacon to the pan and return to a low heat to render out the fat.
03. Add the chestnuts and turn up the heat to medium-high so they sizzle and colour a little.
04. Add the greens and the chicken stock. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Add the pear and season with salt and a squeeze of lemon to taste.
Perfect roast potatoes
500g goose fat
1kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into big pieces and washed in cold water for 5 minutes
5 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of sage
1 sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 tsp white peppercorns
1 garlic bulb, split in half
Fine sea salt
01. Mix together all the ingredients, except the salt, in a large saucepan. Slowly bring the fat up to a low simmer for 15 minutes. Test a potato with a fork – it should hold its shape, but be tender and cooked through. Remove from the heat and leave the potatoes to cool in the fat. Strain.
02. Preheat the oven to 230˚C fan (250˚C non-fan) and place a heavy baking tray inside to preheat for at least 15-20 minutes. Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200˚C (220˚C non-fan), toss the potatoes around and then roast for a further 15-20 minutes.
03. When the potatoes come out of the oven, generously season with fine sea salt, then serve immediately while glassy and crisp.