Goose at Christmas was certainly a traditional fayre for the Victorian era although many people did have Chicken as well as Turkey:
“What’s to-day?” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him. “Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder. “What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge. “To-day?” replied the boy. “Why, Christmas Day.” “It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!” “Hallo!” returned the boy. “Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired. “I should hope I did,” replied the lad. “An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there — Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?” “What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy. “What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck.” “It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy. “Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.” “Walk-er!” exclaimed the boy. “No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell them to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown.” From Stave 5: The End of It – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
But back to the goose. Now if you are going to cook goose it’s worth remembering that the fat content of goose is higher than poultry and most other game birds, however it is comparable to or maybe even less than many cuts of beef or lamb. It is also a good source of protein and iron so there is some balance.
Mrs Beeton was advising that turkey was best boiled and served with celery sauce as it was apt to be dry and stringy. But our best bet is find local butcher explain exactly what you want and they are sure to help…my butcher is excellent. So here is a recipe for a Goose Pie from ‘Directions for Cookery; being A System of the Art in It’s Various Branches by Miss Leslie (Author of ‘Seventy-five receipts)’ published in 1837.
These pies are always made with a standing crust. Put into a sauce-pan one pound of butter cut up, and a pint and a half of water ; stir it while it is melting, and let it come to a boil. Then skim off whatever milk or impurity may rise to the top. Have ready four pounds of flour sifted into a pan.
Make a hole in the middle of it, and pour in the melted butter while hot. Mix it with a spoon to a stiff paste, (adding the beaten yolks of three or four eggs,) and then knead it very well with your hands, on the pasteboard, keeping it dredged with flour till it ceases to be sticky. Then set it away to cool.
Split a large goose, and a fowl down the back, loosen the flesh all over with a sharp knife, and take out all the bones. Parboil a smoked tongue; peel it and cut off the root. Mix together a powdered nutmeg, a quarter of an ounce of powdered mace, a tea-spoonful of pepper, and a tea-spoonful of salt, and season with them the fowl and the goose.
Roll out the paste near an inch thick, and divide it into three pieces. Cut out two of them of an oval form for the top and bottom; and the other into a long straight piece for the sides or walls of the pie. Brush the paste all over with beaten white of egg, and set on the bottom the piece that is to form the wall, pinching the edges together, and cementing them with white of egg. The bottom piece must be large enough to turn up a little round the lower edge of the wall piece, to which it must be firmly joined all round. When you have the crust properly fixed, so as to be baked standing alone without a dish, put in first the goose, then the fowl, and then the tongue.
Fill up what space is left with pieces of the flesh of pigeons, or of partridges, quails, or any game that is convenient. There must be no bones in the pie. You may add also some bits of ham, or some force-meat balls. Lastly, cover the other ingredients with half a pound of butter, and put on the top crust, which, of course, must be also of an oval form to correspond with the bottom. The lid must be placed not quite on the top edge of the wall, but an inch and a half below it. Close it very well, and ornament the sides and top with festoons and leaves cut out of paste. Notch the edges handsomely, and put a paste flower in the centre.
Glaze the whole with beaten yolk of egg, and bind the pie all round with a double fold of white paper. Set it in a regular oven, and bake it four hours. This is one way of making the celebrated goose pies that it is customary in England to send as presents at Christmas. They are eaten at luncheon, and if the weather is cold, and they are kept carefully covered up from the air, they will be good for two or three weeks; the standing crust assisting to preserve them.