If you find yourself with a wide stretch of free time on a cold Sunday afternoon, I can recommend no better activity than spending the day playing around in the kitchen. Winter cooking is a breed of its own, and dishes that are braised, slow-cooked, and roasted are just what the doctor ordered on frigid days. So when I found myself in this situation last weekend, I decided that I’d finally test out Anne Burrell’s Pasta Bolognese recipe that was featured in the premiere episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. The recipe has been in my binder ever since I saw that episode, but because it lists its total cooking time at 4 ½ hours, it’s not exactly a weeknight dinner, so I was waiting for the right opportunity to tackle it.
Though known as kitchen adventurer, I even surprised my family when I announced a menu inspired by the Dickens’s classic, A Christmas Carol. Yes… the Cratchits enjoying a humble yet festive Christmas Eve dinner, with a goose at the center. I wanted a challenge.
As I’m entrenched in the Food Network Store, the right equipment is a must, and I made sure I had sufficient roasting pan. With any type of poultry — chicken, turkey, duck, or goose- a rack is critical. The bird is elevated; allowing heat to circulate fully. Without it, your goose will be cooked — and not in a good way. Some of my faves are here.
Another vital tool is the bulb baster. Basting with pan drippings while it cooks will help to keep the meat moist. Once an internal temp of 180F is reached, your goose is good to go. Need a temperature check? These are solid choices.
I finished with a port glaze, followed by a brief broil to crisp up the skin. As the skin quite brown in areas, I worried about overcooking, but it was actually great, if I do say so myself. It was more delicate than duck and more richly flavored than turkey, which I find bland at times.
I accompanied with goose fat-roasted potatoes, tawny port gravy and a side of steamed green beans. For Dickensian desserts, I made mincemeat pie and hot wassail, and my mom made my great-grandmother’s Christmas pudding with traditional hard sauce.
Despite potential for disaster, it ended up as a great experience for my family to share a special meal. Goose sounds daunting, but recommend the experience for any great dinner. Though inspired by a holiday story, this special gathering with family and friends could be enjoyed all year long.
We took a quick poll around the office…
Alexis (runs FineLiving.com) — resolution:
Less take-out, more big-batch, healthy cooking on the weekends. Update: So far, so good. Alexis whipped up Giada De Laurentiis’ tasty lentil soup and has been enjoying all week.
Danielle (FN’s interactive marketing guru) — resolution:
Fewer processed frozen meals and more packed lunches. Update: Has fallen off the wagon twice this week with her frozen faves — but hey, there was a sale. To boost the healthy factor, Danielle makes her own side salads.
Mark (FN Dish contributor) — resolution:
Bank more green with bag lunches versus pricey pre-made sandwiches. Sense a theme here? Update: Three for three this week — two hand-rolled turkey wraps and one amazing pot of chili (inspired by some great tips and enhanced with his secret weapon — chocolate!).
Emily (FoodNetworkStore.com) — resolution:
Less coffee! Loves the taste, hates the jitters. Update: Tea and tea only for over a week! She attributes her mighty resolve to the Mighty Leaf variety pack.
Rachael (FN Dish producer) — resolution:
Joint plan with her boyfriend to give up beer FOR THE YEAR. Update: So far, so good! However, wine is still fair game and Rachael just enjoyed a great sparkling Bonarda from Italy.
How are YOU doing? Hanging tough? Need moral support?
We want to hear your secrets to success (or your downfall)…
And, if you do need encouragement, try the healthy eating tips and recipes on our new blog, Healthy Eats.
You may remember Food Network staffer, Emily, from this amazing lattice-work apple pie she baked in our Thanksgiving Throwdown. Emily manages the Food Network Store and was asked to do a holiday gift segment on New York’s local CW network — PIX 11. To heighten the stakes, it was LIVE — which was a first for her.
We all think she did a pretty bang-up job and wanted to share. Check out Emily’s segment here. Plus, according to Em, you still have about five more days to place orders with guaranteed Christmas delivery, if you didn’t feel like dealing with Black Friday.