Advent is the period in which we anticipate and prepare for Christmas Day, the holy day of Christians around the world. Though it is a religious period in celebration of the birth of Jesus, it is also a time to enjoy those weeks leading up to Christmas. It is historically the beginning of the Church year for most Western churches and begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, nearest 30 November, and ends on Christmas Eve, 24 December. (Should Christmas Eve be on a Sunday, it is the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve itself begins then at sundown.)
The following pictures are from our luncheon this past Wednesday at the Krone in Allmannsweier. Each year the men invite the women to their weekly get-together in December.
One of the meals served was Sauerbraten with boiled potatoes or noodles and red cabbage (Hans and I both had potatoes as shown). See below.
One 8 to 10 lb goose (4 to 5 Kg)
Wash it well, inside and out, with cold water. Dry well. Any excess fat around the neck opening can be removed, but it should be added to the roast pan with the goose. (The fat will later be drained off for use in other cooking and for making the gravy.)
Salt the inside only. Stuff with dressing of your choice (we prefer Canadian-style sage and bread dressing; Germans generally add various fruit to theirs) and skewer or sew the openings together. Truss it as you would a turkey, with string around the wings and legs to keep them close to the body.
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Set the goose, breast down, on a rack in the roast pan. Add about three cups of hot water to the pan, along with two apples, halved. Cover the pan. Roast for about an hour, then turn the goose so that it is breast side up; pour a little more hot water into the pan; cover it. About halfway through its roasting time, insert the tip of a sharp knife between the leg and body of the goose to remove some of the fat. Continue roasting for 2 or so more hours, basting several times with the pan juices/fat. (Check for doneness occasionally as roasting time also depends on one's oven. It could take less or more time to cook than mentioned above.)
Note: We don't drain the fat from the pan until the goose is cooked, though you can. If you do remove it from the pan, reserve the fat; don't throw it out. It is great to add to Sauerkraut or Rotkohl (red cabbage) or in other cooking. A little can also be used to make more gravy for leftovers after Christmas.
About twenty minutes before the end of its roasting time, mix about 1/2 teaspoon of salt in about 1/4 cup cold water and brush it over the goose. This helps to brown and crisp the skin. When the legs move easily or the fat runs clear or yellow, the goose is done. Remove it from the roast pan. Let it stand a few minutes before carving, during which time the gravy can be made.
Gravy: Remove most of the fat from the pan into a heavy pot. Place the roast pan with the remaining fat over two medium hot burners; stir the fat and any brown bits well over the heat until combined and browning. Stir in some flour (1 or 2 tablespoons to start) and continue stirring until well mixed, doing it quickly so as not to allow it to burn, but just until it is brown. At this point there is no liquid in the pan, just fat. Pour into the pan some chicken broth, water or vegetable broth. Stir continuously until boiling and then simmer it until thickened. If it doesn't thicken, mix and stir together a spoonful of flour with some cold water, then add it slowly to the pan, stirring continuously with a whisk. If it thickens too much, add more liquid. Season to taste. If you wish, add some whipping cream (heavy cream) to the gravy before serving. We usually do as it makes for a smooth sauce--and also very good. Note: The leftover goose fat in the pot can be frozen to use at a later time.
Hans's Red Cabbage
1 large head of red cabbage, approx. 1-1/2 to 2 kg
Cut cabbage into quarters; remove core; finely slice. Place in a deep cooking pot with 1 onion, finely diced. This will make a lot, but as it freezes well, it is worth it. Add the following:
1/2 to 1 bottle (750mL size) dry red wine; about 1/2 liter (2 cups) water; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar; 2 large peeled apples, finely chopped or 1 small jar apple sauce; 4 to 5 cloves; 3 to 4 bay leaves; 5 to 6 whole peppercorns; 4 to 5 juniper berries; 1 to 2 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes; 1/2 teaspoon salt; a couple of grinds of pepper; 2 to 3 tablespoons goose or pork fat if you have it, as it adds flavour.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Make sure there is sufficient liquid so that it doesn't burn; if not enough, add some water. Stir occasionally so the spices are kept covered and to ensure the cabbage doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. Taste, as you may wish to add more sugar, spice or vinegar. The taste should be slightly sweet-sour. The cabbage should still have some bite, so don't over cook it. You want it tender, but not too soft. Remove bay leaves before serving. Red cabbage is excellent with Sauerbraten, wild boar and other game as well as goose.
Note: If you wish, instead of a whole cabbage, use two large glass jars (or tins) of ready-made red cabbage. You can buy this at the supermarket (two 28oz cans/800 to 1000mL size). If canned cabbage has apple in it, reduce your apples by one. Follow the recipe as given, though it might take a little less cooking time. Check for doneness and taste beforehand. I freeze any leftover red cabbage in zip lock bags.