Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Goose-Hanukkah Goose

Last night, for the first night of Hanukkah and simultaneously for Christmas Eve, we cooked a goose and shared with friends. It's a pretty involved project that involves making a stuffing of apples and prunes, placing the goose on a large rack in the oven, and paying constant attention to removing the fat that starts to drip from the bird as soon as it goes in the oven. We're aware of both the English Christmas goose tradition, and also the traditional place of the goose and goose fat in Eastern European Jewish cooking. 

Len was the chief cook and also did the carving.
We ordered the goose a few weeks ago at a specialty meat market where we picked it up on Friday. It made a beautiful roast! We were aware of how goose was once appreciated in various traditions, especially in England, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia, but is now no longer cooked very often. Our goose came from the one major farm in the US that raises geese commercially, which is in South Dakota. Other than that, if you want a goose you have to find a local farmer that's raising and slaughtering geese. Turkey and chicken and to some extent duck have replaced the goose that was once a much-loved centerpiece of celebrations.

Carving the goose is much more challenging than carving a turkey!
As it happens, the New York Times published an article about Jewish goose traditions which appeared just as we were eating our own goose: "Goose: A Hanukkah Tradition." According to the author, "Hosting a goose-centric holiday meal may sound like an attempt to make Hanukkah more like Christmas, but it’s actually a distinctive Jewish tradition and a way to support small-scale farms that practice sustainable agriculture."

Elaine making the first course salad of lettuce, clementines, avocado,
and walnuts.
The table ready for the seven of us.
We also had latkes -- potato pancakes -- the more familiar Hanukkah dish...
... and lit the candles for the first night of Hanukkah.
Dinner: goose with apple stuffing  and gravy, latkes with sour cream, weisswurst
(in honor of the Christmas Eve tradition of the Bavarian side of the family), red cabbage, and red wine. 

Dessert: our guest Linda brought a fabulous French apple tart, here seen in her kitchen.

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

Your dinner looks wonderful. Love the pix of Len and the goose -- that's a big bird! I don't think I've ever had goose and it was interesting to hear the tradition.

On Christmas Eve/Hanukkah Day 1 we also had latkes. Rick had never made them before and found the recipe in the NYTimes. It was great and it made us feel like we were with our Cleveland family.

What a lovely season this has been. Takes some of the sting away from all of November! Just some.