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Roast Goose

Turkey can go forth and multiply.

There goes half the readers of this blog.

I guess I shouldn’t make such a brash statement without backing it up with at least a modicum of fact. Well, perhaps not fact, but my views on that rather large, rather disappointing bird…

I have cooked a fair few turkeys in my time. I have roasted them straight. I have wet brined, dry brined them. I have stuffed them. Cooked both large and small ones. Some techniques do yield better results than others, but it is still a pretty darn bland white meat. The legs are better of course, but those normally get fought over so much I just say “what the heck” and let others battle it out. Gravy makes things better, but if you ask me (I know you didn’t..) if you have to smother something in gravy to make it decent, the starting product should be seriously contested.

To make things worse it seems like my extended family every year demand a ridiculously big turkey because they want left overs. Cooking a huge turkey in a tiny oven is a silly idea to start with, and every year brings new heights of imagination to me as I try and work out how to cook everything in that small oven.

This year the turkey finished it’s cooking on the BBQ so I could roast some veg in that little oven. That was actually a very good thing. The BBQ added an extra layer of flavor that was quite palatable.

In my mind there are solutions to the bland turkey however:

Brining does certainly help. The wet brine method is a complete pain in the arse, and normally ends up with a rather wet fridge. Drine brine is another option.

Another solution is to buy a heritage turkey from a small local farm. I did this last year, the turkey was actually pretty great. It was small, and rather bloody skinny (thankfully we were only feeding 8 that year) because apparently it flew a lot.. But I do have to say that its flavor was far superior to any turkey you will find at the supermarket, even an organic turkey from a decent co-op store.

Of course, those bad-boys aren’t cheap – and when you start to talk heritage turkey, you have slapped yourself well and truly into the price range of a fantastic game bird with so much more to offer than even the most poncy of turkey.

GOOSE.

For the same money as that skinny flown-a-lot bird you get yourself a nice plump, very, very fat goose. And as we all know, fat means flavor, and fat doesn’t come much better than goose fat.

Oh lordy, goose fat.

So this year I tried my best to convince my fantastic in-laws that a goose should be on our Christmas table, and not that traditional American favorite of the turkey.

I was shot down faster than I ever possibly imagined. Shot down for the following reason, and I qoute: “I don’t like goose. I had one in the freezer for two years, it had freezer burn, but I cooked it anyway. It tasted horrible. I don’t like goose“.

This is quite understandable really. Freezer burnt anything is bad news.

And so it was to be. I would roast a goose before Christmas, invite over the parents-in-law, and hopefully convince them that goose doesn’t taste like crap – and then we can do a Turkey for Christmas. Win-Win for everyone!

I am happy to say my plan succeeded extremely well. A week or so before Christmas I invited some lovely friends of ours, and the parents-in-law over for roast goose. This was actually the first whole goose I have ever roasted myself personally (nothing like pressure of in-laws and a rather talented chef looking over your shoulder..) – I decided to go the route of considering it be just a rather large duck, and roasting it along similar lines.

Now, it would be foolish to write a blog post about roast goose without mentioning a rather large and important by-product of roasting a goose.

FAT.

GOOSE FAT.

The best darn fat known to man. Known to me anyhow. And a goose has buckets of it. Thank the maker, because that stuff is pure gold. When roasting a goose it should be considered illegal not to roast potatoes alongside in the strained goose fat. ILLEGAL people.

So that of course we did. Lots and lots of spuds. Parsnips too, and the last carrots from the garden. I think I might have served all this with a green salad too, but honestly cannot remember because of one thing – goose fat roasted potatoes!!!

Anyhow, what I am really trying to do here is to convince as many people as possible to drop the roast turkey for one year – especially here in the US (since what, you have roast turkey in November AND December), and roast a goose instead. You will be hooked.

I know I am.

I roasted the goose, but removed the lower half of the wings and neck. I had planned on stuffing the neck skin as a sausage, but alas this goose came with its neck without skin. The neck, giblets and wing tips all went into the stock pot, to make a quick stock for a goose au jus.

To help render fat from the goose its skin should be pricked all over, taking care not to puncture the meat. The goose fat should be harvested from the goose roasting pan a couple of times during roasting. The goose needs to be up on a rack, so it doesn’t sit in its own fat.

(thanks to my wonderfully talented and sexy wife for taking the photos)

Roast Goose Recipe, with all the trimmings (serves eight)

1 goose, about 10lb.

sea salt, lots of it. Freshly ground pepper too.

10 yukon gold potatoes

6 medium parsnips

a handful of carrots, plus 1 for the stock

green top of a leek

1 onion

1 bay leaf

1 small bunch of thyme

5 juniper berries, crushed

1 glass of dry white wine

Preheat oven to 450F

Using a sharp knife remove the lower wing tips at the joint.

Put the neck, giblets, wing tips, bay, thyme, onion, 1 carrot and juniper berries in a saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Skim if scum comes to the surface. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook this stock down all the time the goose is roasting.

Peel the potatoes, and cut into bite sized pieces. Par boil until cooked about half way through in lots of water. Drain. Toss potatoes gently to fluff them.

Clean the goose inside and out, removing any giblets in the cavity. Dry well with paper towel. Prick the skin all over with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Trim off any excess fat from around the cavity, and put into a small saucepan.

Tie the goose legs together. Place the goose on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub a lot of coarse sea salt into the skin of the goose. Roast at 450F for 30 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 350F. Continue roasting for another 90 minutes or so, until the temperature of the goose (when measured between leg and breast) reaches about 180F. Strain off the goose fat that has collected in the roasting pan at least a couple of times during roasting.

Pour this goose fat into the saucepan with the goose fat from around the cavity. Heat over a low stove until all the fat has melted. Strain through a fine sieve.

About 20 minutes before the goose is done, heat a large baking sheet in the oven. Take out the baking sheet, pour onto it a good half cup of the hot goose fat. Toss your potatoes, parsnips and carrots onto this sheet. Make sure these all get covered in the fat. Put the baking sheet back in the oven.

When the goose is cooked, take it out and cover in foil. Leave the vegetables in, and raise the oven temp to 450F. Let these roast for 15 minutes longer, whilst the goose rests. Toss the veg once during cooking, to evenly brown all sides.

Pour out the remaining goose fat from the roasting pan. Heat this pan over a high heat, and deglaze with the white wine. let this bubble away for a few minutes, and add a few of soup ladles of the goose stock.  Let this reduce by half to make the au jus. Feel free to add chopped thyme and butter to this if you wish.

Remove the legs and breast from the goose (the shot above is Danny carving the goose). Cut the meat off the legs. Slice the breasts against the grain. Serve with the roasted veg, au jus.

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26 Responses to “Roast Goose”

  1. Peter G says:

    I’m not a big fan of turkey and have never tried a roast goose. It looks like yours went down successfully! Bring on the goose fat!

  2. L says:

    Looks fantastic Matt! And those potatoes, oh my…

  3. Love your argument in favour of roast goose… I too am not a fan of turkey… but family pressure insists that we have one at Christmas. This year however we grew our own Bronze Turkey! And that’s definitely solution! Not only did we grow our own turkey (and ham, but that’s a different story), we bbq’d the bird on our Big Green Egg. Family were sceptical (will leave in Tipperary, Ireland) but it was really great…

  4. sue bette says:

    Way to go Matt – the goose looks wonderful and I love the play by play pictures! I roasted a wild goose that a hunting friend had dropped my way, it was delicious but a little lean so I am a bit jealous of the goose fat you’ve got above!
    Happy New Year!

  5. Adrienne says:

    I’ve never tried to roast a goose before, but between you and the New York times, and all this talk of delicious fowl fat, I may well be convinced.

  6. Rachel says:

    I’ll take goose over turkey anyday, anyday,
    All looks beautiful and as if cooking was a big happy event with friends and family – lovely.
    I used Simon Hopkinson’s top notch method for cooking a goose last year which involved pricking, hot water and a hairdryer – it was all very messy but just wonderful. Do you have Simon Hopkinsons books, Roast chicken and other stories is bloody brilliant, I think you might like it.
    Happy new year

  7. Kathryn says:

    Oh la la…now I have drool all over my keyboard!!

    This Blog is amazing…..in my humble opinion it’s perfect, so glad I stumbled upon it. I’ve sent it to all my foodie friends.

    Thanks Matt!

  8. kitchenbeard says:

    Well done! I agree that American’s addiction to turkey is misguided and that goose is a better option at Christmas. One year I dared to suggest to my expartner that I make a roast beef for Christmas and his reponse bordered on conniptic.

  9. monicajane says:

    I grew up eating goose as often as turkey…love them both, they don’t compete in my mind.

    I myself, though, have not made a goose and if I did, I’m sure it would be so novel and lovely it would become favored, if only briefly.

    yum! this is lovely.

  10. See, here is the problem. Thanksgiving is turkey. It just is. Maybe you have to be American to understand (and we have pretty darn good turkeys in our family Thanksgiving). Part of that is the essential nature of making turkey gravy to freeze for Christmas breakfast (always pancakes and gravy). And then Christmas is always roast beef. Always.

    So when am I going to roast this glorious goose that now I WANT?

  11. Kathleen says:

    Hey there! I just found your blog and love it! Thanks for all the photography help. I need it. I’m sold on trading in the turkey for a goose. My British grandparents used to serve it. Hopefully I can get the rest of my fam to go along!

  12. MB says:

    Never underestimate Americans addiction to turkey! An American friend’s parents actually hopped the pond with a frozen turkey in their suitcase for the holidays ~ bless. Your post has put the ‘nail in the coffin of our turduckin’, we ARE having a goose at Christmas in 2010 even though we will be in Florida! This will please my Brit of a husband tremendously!

    Thank you for being a gourmet and gourmand and most importantly thank you for your writing, we thoroughly enjoy your blog!

  13. codfish says:

    Jim and I have started a tradition of prime-rib instead of turkey on holidays, but we forgot all about goose! We may have to create a holiday for it soon. :)

  14. Matt, this goose looks absolutely delish! I agree with you, turkey can “go forth and multiply.” You haven’t lost me… :)

    Happy New Year! :)

  15. redbirdstyle says:

    I think this looks fabulous. I applaud you. I am too scared to take to do it myself!

  16. I was determined to roast a goose for Christmas this year, but I too was completely shot down. Defeated. We ate a smoked turkey, and I have no goose fat for roasting potatoes! Some time this year, however, I will roast a goose!

  17. Aran says:

    you had me at goose fat! love seeing both Danny and you at work!

  18. anticiplate says:

    Just had the best dish OF MY LIFE at DOC in Portland. Smoked Goose, Belper Knolle, heirloom apple, and delicata squash. I about died, and went to heaven.

  19. shauna says:

    I keep coming back to this post and looking at the photos, just to remember the taste of that goose. And really, the taste of those potatoes cooked in goose fat.

    My parents didn’t want potatoes cooked in goose fat for Christmas. “Too many calories.” Can you believe it? Well, no problem. Next time you come over, we’ll have goose fat for our dinner.

    Danny was so proud to be in this post that he blushed. That doesn’t happen often.

  20. Hank says:

    Nice one! I just did my version of Christmas goose over at Elise’s site Simply Recipes. There are lots of ways to do it, and yours is of course very English – and I say that in a good way.

    My way involves removing the breast so it stays medium-rare. And in actuality, THE best way to roast a goose is to not roast it whole at all, it is to part it out and roast the legs/wings slowly (they get like confit) and then pan sear the breast. Carcass becomes stock which becomes gravy with Madeira.

    Ain’t goose grand? I am so with you, Matt. Screw turkey. I don’t even hunt them, preferring to focus my energies on hunting geese, which are the Lords of the Marsh.

    Happy New Year!

  21. Jen says:

    I forgot about goose! Luckily, my family eschews the turkey for all occasions and opts for a leg of lamb, roast duck, roast beef and whatnot instead. Great read. Would like to submit that duck fat is also very tasty for potatoes.

  22. zenchef says:

    haha.. i agree about the potatoes roasted in goose fat!
    Best stuff, ever!

  23. Camille says:

    We roasted a goose for Christmas this year (and potatoes in the fat, obviously – you’re right that it should be illegal not to) and it was fabulous. It may even become a new tradition!

  24. I’ve always preferred goose to turkey. It makes even more sense to cook goose given the fact that over the last few years, it has been accepted that goose fat makes the best roast spuds. The flavour is far superior to turkey and the price of a medium sized free range goose doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (or should that be ‘wing and a leg’). A really informative article/recipe. Thankyou.

  25. Jessica says:

    An amazing experience– but we altered the above recipe to include a few things from other recipes (like the Joy of cooking) & to take advantage of some of our own favorite flavors.
    First– we scalded the bird slightly in order to tighten the skin & let it sit, uncovered, in the fridge for 16 hours (overnight). The Joy of Cooking has the instructions & recommended letting the bird sit for 24-48 hours, but just overnight was fine. Scalding the bird with hot water lets the skin tighten & dry out, which promotes the fat out during cooking. Be sure to pat the bird dry with paper towels & place him on a rack in a pan so air circulates around him while he’s in the fridge chilling out.
    Second– Just before cooking, we rubbed him over with 1/2 a lime (we didn’t have a lemon on hand), so our dry rub would adhere to the skin. The dry rub consisted of: semi-fine ground pink himalayan sea salt, semi-fine ground red sea salt, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, & coarsely cracked pepper. The salts & the paprikas made the skin absolutely to die for. We got them both at Mountain Rose Herbs. (google it; you won’t be sorry; they have the BEST herbs, spices & salts around & for the best prices too).
    Third– we stuffed the bird loosely with very coarsely chopped green apples, shallots, & some thyme– seasoned with some of the leftover goose rub.
    Fourth– we used a probe thermometer, set at 170 (medium-well) with a mind that the bird will continue to cook during the resting period before carving. By the time we carved it, the bird was about 178 & honestly if the breast was cooked any more it would have been dry & livery.
    The bird was so juicy I didn’t use the gravy at all– but my husband did.
    Make sure your roasting pan is at LEAST 3 inches deep. We got, I kid you not, a quart and a half of fat off this guy.
    Also, put about a cup or 2 of water into the bottom of the pan so that when the fat hits it during cooking, it won’t burn.
    Don’t forget those potatoes. Thank you Matt for that suggestion & for this guide. It helped so much more than the other recipes I looked at & the pictures are awesome.
    ~Jessica

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I have long loved the goose. I make one every xmas, and have fanatically converted my friends. I also make a wild rice/mushroom/celery and pine nut stuffing, since I have celiac disease and cannot eat regular stuffing. It is amazingly good. I am going to do your potatoes and carrots this year as well. I have the goose in the fridge thawing in preparation for the 25th, and I am totally looking forward to it.

    Hopefully this year your in laws won’t mind goose for Christmas dinner!