Executive Chef Richard Turner tells us more about where the goose and ham on our festive menu comes from and why
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.
Please do put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!
Note that it is the geese that are getting fat, not the turkeys. At Gridiron this year we’ll be sticking to wood roast goose or baked ham: proper English fayre. We have ordered large, but by goose standards, lean, Legarth birds, reared free range on a farm at Leven in Yorkshire, where they have spent most of their lives grazing upon 40 acres of grassland. Grazing is the goose’s natural way of feeding and, in my book, nature will always deliver when it comes to flavour. They are then ‘finished’ with an adlib diet of home produced cereals in much the same way as cattle. To roast our geese successfully, we will gently smoke them over a dish to catch the vast quantities of valuable fat rendered from even our lean birds. With goose, less is most certainly more as it is so very rich. And it is the roast that keeps on giving; the fat going to make the finest roast potatoes and the legs used for potted goose to spread on lightly grilled Coombshead sourdough.
Alternatively a seasonal ham is the most versatile of meats, and a good ham can be revelatory in its deliciousness. Ham has a distinct and wonderful flavour that will happily go with almost anything - cheese, carbs, vegetables, fruits, other meats and yes, even fish - ham really is a perfect Christmas meat.
Unfortunately, mediocrity is more the norm of what is available in this country, and for this reason we have sought out the very best from families with generations of tradition to fall back on. A proper ham, from a proper pig, is truly a sight to behold. (And by proper, I mean free-range, extensively reared).
This Christmas promises to be a most delicious time of year in Gridiron.