A Gift of Food!

The month of December focuses on Christmas and the meal for that day is by tradition more a banquet than the three course meal we have during the rest of the year. 75 years ago, this was a very different Christmas meal to what we have these days.

ARROSTO D’ OCA NATALIZIA (Roasted Christmas Goose – Main) Serves 4

1 x 4 to 5kg Goose trussed ready for the oven (Rawlings the butcher take such orders)
1 large carrot roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic crushed
4 bay leaves
1 large sprig of sage
600mls of strong stock
150mls of red wine or 100mls of Port
20g of thickening agent
Salt and Peppermill

1. On a metal oven tray with a little water place the trussed goose
2. Sprinkle it generously with salt and peppermill
3. Place in a preheated oven at 200ºC for 30 minutes then take the tray out of the oven
4. Lift the goose and place the chopped vegetables on the tray and the goose on it
5. Place back in the oven at 180º C and cook for 1 hour
6. After that, reduce the heat to 150ºC and start basting regularly every 20 minutes for a further one and half hour
7. At the end of the above time, check the temperature in the breast and in the leg joint
8. If the temperature is at least 75ºC the goose is cooked. Take the bird out of the oven tray, keep it hot while the sauce is made
9. In a suitable saucepan place half the roasted vegetables liquidise them, add the stock and the wine or port. Bring to the boil and thicken the sauce to the consistency required
10. Serve the goose with a compote of apples with added finely chopped sage
11. Roast potatoes, Cauliflower in white sauce and a green salad will be an adequate accompaniment

My favourite wine with this meal would be Amarone Della Valpolicella (a little expensive, but it is Christmas)

RISOTTO CON FUNGHI (Mushroom Risotto – Starter) Serves 4

160g of Italian rice
30g sun dried mushrooms broken into small pieces
50g finely sliced onions
50g finely chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
25mls of oil
25g margarine + 25g of butter
120mls dry white wine
50g grated Parmesan cheese
4 large fresh mushrooms
800mls of good stock
Salt and peppermill

(The night before, soak the dried mushrooms in the wine, cover and keep in a cool place)
1. Using a suitable saucepan, fry the vegetable in the hot oil and margarine until golden brown
2. Stir in the rice and when well mixed with the vegetables add the wine and mushrooms
3. Gradually add the stock stirring all the time over a moderate heat
4. Cook the 4 large mushrooms separately and keep them warm
5. The risotto is ready when “al dente” and if too dry a little water can be added
6. At this stage the butter is added mixing it well with the rice then add half the Parmesan
7. Adjust the seasoning and serve the risotto in a large dish with the large mushrooms on top
8. Serve the rest of the Parmesan separately

A good white wine will be appreciated: Soave or Orvieto secco.

PANETTONE – Dessert (Serves 4)

This is the traditional Italian dessert served at Christmas, is readily available in Sainsbury’s the weeks preceding Christmas.

My family was lucky enough to receive a Panettone at Christmas every year as thanks to my father the parish organist. The local Monsignor (a senior priest who ranked just below Bishop) was a very generous man who helped my family when father lost his job in 1934 when Mussolini decreed that all teachers must be members of the fascist party. It was certainly a different life back then.

Dear readers, this is my last contribution to the Cranleigh Magazine. I am sure that there are younger people in the Village willing to take on from me with more recipes.

I will still be available to help anyone in matters of food at

BUON APPETITO – Giovanni Fontebasso

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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