Updated: March 7, 2014 1:23PM
In “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is guided by the Ghost of Christmas Present to a vision of Bob Cratchit’s family enjoying Christmas dinner. At the center of this celebration sits a goose:
“When the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all around the board and even Tiny Tim … feebly cried Hurrah! ... Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration.”
Tenderness, flavor, and size all seem reasonable — but cheapness? Surprisingly, a goose in Victorian England was relatively inexpensive. When wealthy Scrooge actually visits the humble Cratchit house on Christmas Day, he brings the more exotic — and expensive — turkey.
We found a goose at Blue Ribbon Meat Market (426 N. Austin) for about $7 a pound, which can be an expensive meal since most birds are more than 10 pounds.
Goose is no longer common or even stocked at many stores. Ron Savino at Blue Ribbon explained, “Demand isn’t what it used to be because price isn’t what it used to be.”
Still, goose traditionally has a place of honor on the holiday table.
Chef Paul Virant (Perennial Virant, 1800 N. Lincoln, and Vie, 4471 Lawn, Western Springs) suggested a recipe (simplified, below):
1. Prick goose skin to release fat.
2. Warm 1 pound sauerkraut, 1 teaspoon butter, 1 onion and 1 rounded teaspoon each of caraway, coriander and fennel; combine with ½ loaf day-old rye bread pieces; stuff into bird.
3. Cook at 350 degrees for three hours.
Save the goose fat! You can use it for fried potatoes and many other dishes.