Four-bird roast

Go all out this Christmas with Valentine Warners Victorian-style roast goose and traditional accompaniments
By Valentine Warner
Four-bird roast
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes plus 30 minutes/500g for the roast
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour 30 minutes infusing/standing time
  • Effort: easy


For the meat

  • 1 Coppins 4-bird roast, (see Cooks note below)

For the Cumberland sauce

  • 2 medium oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 300 ml port
  • 125 ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced and julienned
  • 4 tbsp redcurrant jelly

For the bread sauce

  • 500 ml full fat milk, plus extra if necessary
  • 1 small onion, peeled, leaving root intact, and halved
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 150 g day-old fine white breadcrumbs
  • large knob of butter
  • pinch nutmeg

To serve

  • Christmas vegetables
  • roast potatoes
  • gravy

Tips and Suggestions

Called a 'Victorian Stuffed Goose', this dish consists of a boned goose stuffed with a boned chicken, stuffed with a boned pheasant, with a boned quail at the centre.

Each bird is separated with a thin layer of homemade forcemeat. The whole thing is then hand-stitched back into the original size and shape of the goose.

Note that the pheasant inside the goose may contain shotgun pellets; these are harmless if swallowed but may catch on a tooth so please warn your guests.


1. For the Cumberland sauce: using a potato peeler, thinly cut the rind from the oranges and lemons. Stack the peels and shred them lengthways as thinly as possible.

2. Put the peel slivers into a small saucepan, cover them with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes. This will remove the wax from the skin whilst also reducing its bitterness. Tip away the water leaving the peel in the pan.

3. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemon and add to the pan, avoiding any pips.

4. Stir in the red wine vinegar, mustard powder, port, red wine, bay leaves, peppercorns and ginger.

5. Put the pan back on the heat and add the redcurrant jelly. Break it up with a whisk and stir in until dissolved. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until reduced and syrupy. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

6. For the bread sauce: put the milk in a small saucepan. Stud one half of the onion with the cloves then put both halves in the pan to bob around in the milk. Add the bay leaves and heat very gently until the milk barely simmers. Cook for 20 minutes until the onion is very soft. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for a further 30 minutes.

7. Remove the onion pieces from the milk with a slotted spoon and discard the one with the cloves. Chop the other half as finely as you can until minutely minced, then add it back to the milk in the pan.

8. Stir the breadcrumbs into the milk until completely soaked. Add a knob of butter and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add more milk if necessary, as the sauce should not be too stiff, but more like thin porridge. Season with the salt, some finely ground black pepper and a hint of nutmeg. Set aside until ready to serve.

9. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

10. Put the bird on a rack above the roasting pan and roast for approximately 30 minutes per 500g, emptying the fat once or twice during cooking. Cover the breast in foil for about half the cooking time and then uncover to allow to crisp. (Its not uncommon for the skin to burst: it will not affect the cooking but spoils the look and can be avoided with care.)

11. Check that the juices run clear to ensure the birds are fully cooked. Remove the dish from the oven, cover the bird with foil and keep in a warm place for up to an hour if possible, to help the goose to set, allowing a better, more solid slice when carving.

12. Gently heat the bread sauce until warmed through, adding more milk if it has thickened too much while standing.

13. To serve, slice the rested bird and arrange on a serving plate. Surround the slices with Christmas vegetables and roast potatoes. Pass the Cumberland sauce, bread sauce and gravy separately.

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