Michaelmas Goose with Apples and Prunes

Although Michaelmas is celebrated on 29 September in most of the country, it is celebrated on 4 October in Suffolk and 11 October in Norfolk. However when the calendar was reformed in 1752, “Old Michaelmas Day” was moved to 10 October. It heralds the day the Devil spits on blackberries and makes them unfit to eat! Or maybe it is just that by then frosts and the maggot flies have got to them?

With harvest over Michaelmas marked the turn of the seasons and time for the farmers to pay their debts, often presenting their landlords with a goose. Goose Fairs are associated with Michaelmas when it is probably the best time of year to eat goose. Having feasted on the winnowings in the wheat fields goose is particularly tasty at this time when it has not yet put on the fat it requires to take it through the winter. I am sure that those who have cooked goose at Christmas know just how fatty it can be. I doubt it would do anything for Government obesity targets.


9-11 lb (4-5 kg) fresh oven-ready goose with giblets, but thawed if frozen 6 Cox's Orange Pippin apples, cored and cut into 8 pieces
½oz (15g) Butter 4 tablespoons Port
1 large Onion, chopped 1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage
1lb (450g) no-soak prunes 4oz (110g) fresh breadcrumbs
½ pint (300ml) dry white wine  


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 °C/400 °F/Gas 6.
  2. Prick the skin of the goose all over with a sharp skewer or fork and pull out and reserve any excess fat in the body cavity, if necessary.
  3. To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a large pan, add the onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, until softened. Separate the goose liver from the giblets and chop finely, then add to the onion and cook gently for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the stones from half the prunes and discard. Chop the prunes roughly and stir into the onion with the port. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the sage and breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly together.
  5. Spoon the stuffing into the neck end of the goose, then truss with strong cotton or fine string. Weigh the bird.
  6. Put the bird on a wire rack placed in a roasting tin. Cover the breast with the reserved fat and then with foil. Roast for 15 minutes per 1lb (450g) plus 15 minutes, basting frequently.
  7. Thirty minutes before the end of the cooking time, drain off the fat and discard (or keep to use for the best roast potatoes in the world).
  8. Add the apples to the tin with the remaining prunes. Add the wine.
  9. Place the bird on top, standing on the roasting rack. Remove the foil and fat and cook, uncovered, for the last 30 minutes.
  10. Serve the roast goose with the cooking juices and the apples and prunes.
  11. Plain boiled or mashed potatoes are best to complement the richness of the goose.
  12. Braised red cabbage is also a traditional accompaniment.


goose meat