Tag Archives: goose

Buttery Caraway Carrots

Incredibly simple – utterly delicious.

 

SERVES 8  /  PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINS  /   COOKING TIME:  10 MINS

Easy to prepare

1 Kg / 2lbs 4 oz carrots (about medium-sized)

25 g / 1 oz butter

1 tsp caraway seeds

Small handful of chopped parsley

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Peel the carrots and trim off the ends.  Cut in half lengthways, then cut on the diagonal into slices about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick.

Place the carrots in a steamer basket and steam for 5 – 7 minutes until softened, or place in a heatproof bowl with a little water and microwave on ‘High’ for 3-5 minutes.

To finish the dish: Gently heat the butter in a frying pan.  Tip in the caraway seeds and cook for 30 seconds until they start sizzling.  Add the carrots and stir into the butter until glossy and heated through (about 3 minutes).  Toss through the parsley and serve.

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THESE CAN BE PREPARED IN ADVANCE:

Cook the carrots up to 2 days in advance, leave to cool, then cover and store in the fridge.  Reheat in pan, finishing with butter and caraway seeds as above, just before serving.

 

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Bird? What bird?

roadr_coy1What size of bird (turkey) should you buy for you and your guests?  Aim on 1 pound of turkey for each adult guest (1-1/2 if you’re aiming to have leftovers).  Many people just go ahead and buy a great behemoth of a bird, regardless of this calculation – it’s no wonder they get sick of the sight of the thing by day two!  (A simple ‘What size turkey to buy’ chart is posted at the end of this article for quick reference).

If you only have a small group to cater for, you may like to consider an alternative.  Nowadays you can buy just a ‘turkey crown’ – this is literally just the turkey breast meat, so if you don’t like the brown meat anyway, this may suit you better.  Disadvantages: You’re unlikely to find it complete with giblets so you won’t easily be able to make your own turkey stock for the gravy (normally well worth doing), it won’t look as impressive if you usually take the bird to the table to carve (!) and it won’t cook in the same way.  Nevertheless, it’s a simpler option for a smaller family get together.

Steering away from turkey entirely, did you know that a growing number of people in the UK are opting for chicken on Christmas Day?  There is absolutely no reason why you can’t still do all the traditional trimmings  like ‘pigs in blankets’ to serve alongside the humble chicken. 

If your group is too big for a single chicken but too small to warrant an entire turkey, there is a kind of half-way-house option of a capon.   A capon is basically a castrated cockerel, the meat of which is succulent and tender.  They are, unfortunately, hard to find and big poultry producers use hormones to induce caponization (never something I’m happy with).  If you’re lucky enough to find a small supplier, and like me you’re bothered by hormones in food, check whether the bird has been surgically or chemically castrated.  You may find capons available through small, quality butchers or farm shops.

If you pick the ‘chicken option’ don’t feel you are cheating your family by the way.  I, for one, far prefer the flavour of chicken to the rather bland and often dry turkey.

Moving away from chicken and turkey, on continental Europe goose is the traditional choice in many countries.  It’s moist, tasty and has the added advantage of rendering a supply of fat to use for delicious roast potatoes and veggies.  See chef Gordon Ramsay’s roast goose recipe here.  (Cook the goose on a raised rack in the roasting tin to keep it out of the fat …not mentioned in this recipe).

Those are the most obvious bird alternatives for your Christmas meal.  No rule book says, however, that you need a bird at all.  A tasty roast of beef or pork would be very nice and judging by the number of hits I’ve been getting to this site lately for ham cooked in coke, I’d say that if that takes your fancy then you’d be in good company!

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If you’re going down the turkey route, here is a quick reference chart to tell you what size turkey you’ll need to buy:

5 lb / 2.25 kg                    serves 4 – 6

8 lb / 3.6 kg                       serves 6 – 8

10-12 lb / 4.5 – 5.6 kg   serves 10 – 12

20 lb / 9 kg                        serves 12 – 15

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Christmas Countdown, 2

Have you thought what you might cook on Christmas Day?  Whether it’s a turkey, a goose (or whatever else takes your fancy), don’t leave it until the last minute and buy it from a supermarket.  We were vegetarian for many years and I vividly remember seeing the meat section of the supermarket entirely bare at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve with shell-shocked women standing and staring in disbelief that there were no more turkeys to be had.  I thanked my lucky stars that year that I wasn’t one of them. 

Your local butcher will start placing orders with suppliers for the Christmas period very shortly now believe it or not.  Go in and have a word with him (or her!) to see when you need to place your order and what you can pre-order.  It may also be possible for the butcher to make a note to set aside any extras you have in mind like chipolats and bacon for ‘pigs in blankets’.  Make a note on the calendar, on the computer, on the back of your hand if you like but get that order in on time.

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