The Thanksgiving feast that the American Puritans celebrated—and that we gratefully recall each year late in November—takes its roots in age-old European autumn “harvest-home” feasts. For centuries these feasts of thanksgiving to God for the harvest had taken place at “Martinmas”—the feast of St. Martin of Tours (in
Martin is a particularly interesting saint: he is the first holy person who was not a martyr to have been honored as a saint. He was a 4th century bishop—and clearly a remarkably holy man and a miracle-worker.
I have a wonderful old cake mold that shows
Here are a few new ideas for you, to help bring this great saintly figure back into mind and memory, food-wise:
When, as a young man, Martin was a soldier, riding along one cold winter’s night he cut his army cloak in two and gave half of it to a poor man—who later appeared to Martin in a dream as Christ himself. The image I have included here is one of my favorites of the many icons and pictures of
We can imitate this act of charity: let’s divide the food we make in two—and give half to the poor. That is the spirit of charity of St. Martin of Tours!
Goose is one of the major foods associated with the feast of
Roast Goose, Swedish style—stuffed with prunes and apples
1 goose, 10-12 pounds, fresh or frozen
20 large prunes, pitted, and plumped until soft in hot water
6-8 tart apples (I prefer Granny Smiths), peeled and quartered
½ teaspoon allspice
If the goose is frozen, defrost it for 48 hours or more in the refrigerator until completely defrosted. Remove the giblets and cut off as much fat as possible from the inside and all over the goose.
Wash the goose, pat it dry with paper towels, and set it aside.
Chop the fruit coarsely. In a box, mix in the allspice.
Stuff the next cavity with some of the fruit. Fold over the skin and secure it with a skewer or sew it up. Stuff the body cavity with the remaining fruit, and cover the opening with a piece of foil (or close it with skewers, or sew it up).
Sprinkle the goose with salt and pepper all over. Place it on a rack in a shallow pan. Place in a preheated 400 F oven and roast for ½ hour.
Prick the skin all over with a fork (this will allow the grease to drop out). Reduce the heat to 350 F. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without touching the breastbone. About every 20 minutes, pour fat out of the roasting pan, or spoon it out using a large kitchen spoon. Baste the goose frequently with the pan drippings.
Roast for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the thermometer reaches 185 F. Let the goose cool for 15 minutes to let the juices settle. Place on a heated platter and carve at the table.
Roast goose is delicious served with spiced red cabbage and potato pancakes.
And how about making sugar cookies (recipe on p. 95) in the shape of geese? You can find goose-shaped cookie cutters on-line, for example at: http://www.thecookiecuttershop.com/birds/bird16.shtml
Stay tuned for more thoughts and food suggestions as Thanksgiving—then Advent—approach!