Goose getting fat?


The first two of the Christmas trees are now up and sparkling here, gifts are being wrapped and festive menus planned.  Christmas is just around the corner and let’s hope that the news of the roll-out of a vaccine is a gift for thousands.  It’s time to smile again – even behind your mask.

I’ve been reviving a classic country recipe from the Vendee. I first tasted this recipe in France with friends, Joan and Jeff: simple and hearty for a comforting lunch.  If you are having goose for Christmas, then it is worth saving some of the fat for this dish.  Alternatively, there are jars of both goose and duck fat around for roast potatoes so you could use what’s left-over.

In France, a boudin noir would be steamed on top of the mogettes (white beans).  My UK alternative of black pudding is close enough.


4 large handfuls of dried white haricot beans, soaked in water for at least 24 hours.

2 medium onions, peeled and diced.

2 carrots, peeled and diced.

4 sticks of celery, diced.

6 cloves garlic, peeled and diced.

1 tablespoon goose fat.

2 chicken or vegetable stockpots/cubes.

A good squeeze of tomato puree.

Half a glass of white wine.

2 stems rosemary, leaves removed and chopped.

3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed.

Black pudding

Apple puree.


Sauté the onions, celery, carrots and garlic in the goose fat until softening.

Add the drained beans (they will have become about 6 large handfuls).

Add enough water to cover plus the stockpots/cubes, tomato paste, wine and the herb leaves (about a tablespoonful).

Simmer very gently until the beans are soft (about 8 hours) when nearly all the liquid will have been absorbed and check seasoning – perhaps some pepper.

About half an hour before serving, place the black pudding on top of the beans to heat through.

Warm the apple puree in the microwave and place a spoonful on each plate – top with some black pudding.

Serve the beans alongside.


I brought the beans to a simmer and then put a heat diffuser between the pan and gas.  They cooked for five hours one day; were switched off overnight and re-simmered the next morning.  A pressure cooker (too terrifying for this blind person) would probably be quicker or, in desperation and at the cost of authenticity, a can of pre-cooked beans (NOT Baked Beans!) might do.

I tossed a diced courgette on top of the beans before the black pudding so I didn’t have to trouble with any more vegetables.

Be aware: this bean dish is long-winded in more than one sense!



Clutch of different eggs for Easter.

Rodney (my builder) brought me four dozen eggs laid by the quails reared by his brother, Terry.  I’ve tried two recipes to get the best out of such a special gift:


Not-so-mini Scotch eggs – watch me make them on YouTube

Each quail egg in the middle of a crisp and spicy coat of sausage meat and black pudding.

Outstanding while warm from the oven and still delicious halved as canapés.

Don’t expect these oven-cooked Scotch eggs to look as dark brown as the deep-fried versions – although they are paler, less calories!

Oriental canapés – watch me make them on YouTube

These quail eggs marinaded in soy sauce with sesame seed dip are tasty nibbles to go with drinks.

As soon as the sesame seeds start making cracking noises in the pan, keep them moving and remove from the heat once they have started to give up their distinctive sesame smell.

The eggs make cracking noises as they cook which can seem quite alarming!

Soft-boiled quail eggs only need about a minute simmering if first covered by boiling water, about two minutes for hard-boiled.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

All the recipes are available at

You Tube