We (Will and I) have been giving dinner parties for 37 years and we have now come down to an art of synchronizing how it will go. I usually am responsible for the table setting and Will does all the cooking. I also do all the food shopping and cleaning up afterwards. This year we gave 2 dinner parties back to back, one on the 24th and one on the 25th, we are not sure we would do that again because it means a lot of preparation, we are happy but exhausted.
For both dinner parties we were 5 around the dining room table. We had two separate menus and desserts with various wines and champagnes. The menu for the 25th December was two roasted geese and a plum pudding home made by Will. At one point it looked as if there was going to be a disaster with the geese, but no nothing of the sort. The secret to good dinner party giving is being organized, think ahead what you want to do and try to see what problems might arise, team work is a plus and we do it well.
We also learned that a 5Kg or 9.5 lbs goose will feed 5 adults. Given there are other courses before and after the main goose dish that is plenty. We also learned that goose like duck can be served medium-rare or well done, the meat is dark pink and very good to eat for those who prefer it more medium-rare. To achieve this result you cook your goose at 220C. or 425F counting 20 minutes per kilo. In our case we cooked the geese for 2.20hrs both at the same time in the oven. There is a lot of fat on that bird, but the fat can be rendered and re-used to make french fries or any kind of dishes requiring frying, it gives a wonderful taste to the food. If we do goose again, I would only buy one and ask the Butcher to cut off the wings and the legs thighs so it can be cooked separately from the bird itself.
The fat of the goose being rendered so it can be kept up to 3 months in your fridge and used for all manner of dishes.
The Plum pudding was very good this year, moist and well flambé with brandy as it was brought to the table, we always dim the lights for the full effect. I love Plum pudding the next day, a night in the fridge does wonder for it and seems to accentuate the flavours even more. There are many recipes for Plum Pudding, it is a bit like Fruit Cake everyone has a family or favorite recipe.
On our table each guest gets a Christmas cracker and a little gift bag, with a small bottle of booze, a fancy soap, an enveloppe of hot chocolate mix, a little fancy gift of some sort.
Today Boxing Day is quiet and so will the next few days. What are we doing for New Year’s Eve, St-Sylvestre or New Year’s Day? I do not know yet. Did you know that the First of January is celebrated as the New Year only since 1622 as decreed by Pope Gregory XV, (Ludovisi Family) a transition Pope, his reign was 2 years and 3 months only. A Pope between two great ones Paul V (Borghese) and Urban VIII (Barberini), both built much of the Late Renaissance and Baroque sites we see today with the help of great artists. Prior to 1622 Roman Catholics only celebrated Christmas and then Epiphany 6 January, the calendar followed religious holidays. There are quite a few in the Catholic Calendar.