Christmas was important to the Victorians, as it was a time for family gatherings, good food, exchanging of gifts, playing games, and for one day to forget the world outside their front door.
Some meals, depending on the family's income, could be an elaborate affair of many courses, which would take hours for the meal to finish. I've kept it simple and gone for two of the old favourite recipes.
9 pound goose (or turkey)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
For The Stuffing:
3 medium onions, peeled
4 large apples, peeled, cored & chopped (use tart apples, Granny Smith are best)
2 tablespoons loosely packed dried sage leaves, crumbled
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, cut into tiny bits
sliced apples, parsley or watercress
For The Brown Gravy:
Gizzard, neck, heart, liver and wing tips of the goose, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1-2 tablespoons rendered goose fat or cooking oil
3 cups stock or beef bouillon
½ bay leaf 3 sprigs parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
For The Port Wine Sauce:
½ cup port
1 teaspoon mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
Rub inside of goose with salt and set aside. Parboil onion in boiling water for five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and, when cool enough to handle, chop them finely. In large bowl, combine onions, chopped apples, sage, pepper and butter. Stuff cavity of goose, sew or skewer the openings, and truss in the usual way.
Roast goose at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and turn the goose onto its side. After 1 hour, turn goose onto its other side. For the final 15 minutes, roast goose on its back. Baste every 20 minutes during entire roasting time. (Allow approximately 15 minutes per pound for the total weight of the stuffed goose, or 2½ hours for a 9 pound stuffed goose. The internal temperature should register 180 degrees when done, the legs should move up and down freely, and the juices should run a pale yellow.)
Prepare the gravy while goose is roasting. In a large saucepan, brown the goose parts, onion and carrot in the fat. When they are nicely browned, add the stock and seasonings. Simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour, skimming occasionally. Strain, degrease and pour into a warmed sauce-boat for serving. For the optional port wine sauce, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan. Just before serving the goose, slit open the breast and pour the sauce on top.
It is said that the Christmas pudding originated in Shakespearean times as a plum porridge consisting of meat broth, fruit juice, wine, prunes, mace and breadcrumbs served in a semi-liquid state. Charles II saw plum porridge solidify into the true Christmas pudding in the late 1600's. The fruity alcoholic aroma of the pudding delighted George I in 1714 when it was served to him at the first Christmas he celebrated in England after his arrival from Hanover to take the throne.
In those days the pudding was ball shaped and wrapped in a cloth and it wasn't until Victorian times that the pudding was first placed in a basin to boil it. Since that time pudding has been served as a dessert during the festive season.
1 lb sultanas
1 lb raisins
1 lb currants
½ lb glace cherries
¼ lb mixed peel
¼ lb flaked almonds
¼ lb chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 lb Demerara sugar
1 lb breadcrumbs
1 lb suet
4 oz brandy
½ pint Guinness
Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add liquid and stir thoroughly. Leave to stand over night. Transfer into well grease pudding basins and cover with greaseproof paper and tie around bowl. Then cover with tin foil. Steam puddings for two hours. Cool and allow to mature for at least one month before Christmas.
I want to wish everyone at Unusual Historicals and our readers a magical Christmas holiday season. May you all be healthy and happy.