Decked out in twinkling lights, with the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon filling the air, Hamburg is a magical city in which to experience the festive season. In many homes, the centrepiece of the Christmas Eve celebration is a traditional roast goose. “Hamburg gets very cold and dark in the winter months,” says Daniel Thompson, Head Chef at Fraser Suites Hamburg. “But you’re warmed by the lights of the Christmas markets and the rich, festive food like roast goose – crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle.” Chef Daniel says he has stuffed hundreds of geese since moving to Hamburg from the UK nine years ago, and it has become his favourite meal of the season. As goose isn’t served at any other time of the year in Germany, the mouth-watering aroma of the bird being roasted in the oven has become a highly anticipated event in many homes.
Pro tip: Preserve the goose lard, called ganseschmalz, from this meal. This coveted cooking fat makes a delicious bread spread and can be packed in jars to be gifted in January.
Recipe Idea: Chef Daniel's Christmas Roast Goose (serves 4 to 6)
- 1 goose (5kg)
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 bay leaves, plus extra for garnish
- 3 small red apples, cut in half horizontally
- 3 oranges, roughly chopped
- ½ bunch marjoram
- A few sprigs of mugwort sea salt flakes and black pepper
- Place all ingredients and herbs in a bowl and season
- Stuff a 5kg goose, tying the legs together using kitchen string, and leave uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Place the goose in a preheated oven at 120°C, making sure you have a tray underneath it to catch all the fat and juices.
- Cook for 3 hours, then increase the heat to 220°C for 30 minutes to crisp the skin.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving with braised red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Family Reunion Dish from Dubai: National Day Lamb Machboos
On 2 December each year, the United Arab Emirates celebrates National Day, which commemorates the unification of the seven emirates. It is one of the most highly anticipated holidays of the year and is marked with festivities, including feasting on traditional dishes such as machboos. Machboos comprises rice, meat, vegetables and spices cooked slowly together in one pot. The meat – usually lamb or chicken – may be prepared in one of three styles: mandi, where it is barbecued in a deep hole; mathbi, where it is grilled on flat stones; or madghut, where it is placed in a pressure cooker. “The best lamb to use is locally farmed and fresh, while the best spices come from Yemen – they add a depth of flavour and authenticity to the dish,” says Sohan Singh Negi, Chef De Partie at Fraser Suites Dubai. “Middle Eastern culture focuses on sharing meals with the people you love, as it’s believed to lead to a happier, healthier life. This holds true for a lot of other cultures here too, whether it’s sharing a big pizza, a pot of biryani or machboos,” he adds. Pro tip: Traditionally, this dish is eaten together with family or friends from one large plate. Mint-infused red tea is usually served after the meal, which aids digestion.
Recipe Idea: Chef Sohan’s Celebratory Lamb Machboos (serves 3)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tomato, diced
- 800g lamb with bone, cut into pieces
- 1 sachet Kabsa Arabic Mix
- 2 dried limes, cut in half and seeds removed
- 2 litres water
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 cup golden raisins
- In a large rice pot, saute diced onion in vegetable oil until golden.
- Add tomato and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add lamb pieces, Kabsa Arabic Mix, dried limes and water, and bring to a boil.
- Once lamb is cooked, add rice and raisins, and adjust the water level so that there is around 3cm more water than rice in the pot.
- Cover and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is fully cooked.
- Serve on a large platter with sliced cucumber and yogurt raita. You can also add vegetables such as carrot or peas to the lamb machboos to make it a complete meal.
Adapted from Fraser Cachet Issue #37 © Frasers Hospitality and SPH Magazines. Updated November 2022.