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Ah, the goose

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I am thinking of switching things up a bit this Thanksgiving and considering roasting a goose. I have never done it before, though I am a frequent roaster/confit-er of duck. Several questions:

1.Does anybody have a great goose recipe? One that gets out a lot of the sub-dermal fat and crisps the skin? For this purpose I am looking for a recipe with its roots in Western Europe/North America.

2. Is goose fat as wonderful as duck fat? Should I make a real effort to conserve it?

3. Any outstanding sources for geese? I am in St. Louis city and will be looking for something local, but if anybody has a great farm they know about............

4. I was thinking of cold-smoking the goose for a bit before roasting. Any thoughts?

/Ready.......go

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  1. Goose fat, IMO, is the best!
    Roasting a goose is easy, but make sure you keep removing the fat.

    1. I highly recommend Julia Child's method for roasting goose (or duck) as detailed in "The Way To Cook"

      1. We made a roast goose for Christmas for several years. Though it is quite delicious, there were two problems we encountered, which ultimately convinced us to go back to the traditional English roast beef dinner. The first is that a goose does not feed as many people as either a turkey or a roast beef, and the second is that that the side dishes for goose tend towards the mittle European -- like cabbage and things with prunes -- and those just couldn't compare to mashed potatoes and broccoli with hollandaise. We were just never really satisfied with the total menu, which also never seemed to excite our guests all that much. After about 2 or 3 years, we just gave up and decided to live with duck fat from the annual confit-making. No question that potatoes fried in goose fat were pure luxury!

        1. love goose---its our Christmas day special and we've done it every year since we got married.

          First off, one doesn't stuff a goose. Stick a few carrots or onions and celery in the cavity and leave it alone.
          Second, be prepared to drain the fat OFTEN!!! As much fat as you think the goose will have, there will probably be more. and yes, you save every yummy little drop. The
          freezer works well for this.
          Third, we always end up with boring frozen geese. As I understand, there can be a big difference between farmed goose and those things I see down by the lake......If you find a local source, go for it.
          Fourth, I wouldn't bother smoking it, at least not the first year.

          As for side dishes, to be honest, when I think goose, I think Tiny Tim and Christmas. Goose is fatty and rich and you don't need that much of it for satisfaction. But the best goose side dishes are, in my mind, sort of Christmas themed--roast potatoes, apples [whole crab apples even better], quinces, onions. I scatter them on the bottom of the pan towards the end of the roasting so they cook in the goose fat. Serve all with sauteed kale & garlic.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jenn

            I like goose very much, so this is nothing negative. Ironically, to my surprise, Dickens specified that the bird sent to Bob Cratchet's house be the "prize turkey," not goose! I never understood that, seeing as how turkey is an American bird. Check "A Christmas Carol"'s text. And yes, potatoes fried in goose fat are wonderful!

            1. re: gfr1111

              oh yes I recall that he sent a turkey---never got that except maybe a turkey would be considered "exotic" and more costly.

              leftover goose makes awesome hash.....and tamales....and congee......

              1. re: gfr1111

                In Dickens' day, a goose was a relatively inexpensive meat. Turkey, on the other hand, was expensive. So Scrooge sending the prize turkey ("The one as big as me?!?") to the Cratchet family was a big, expensive deal!

            2. I raise domestic geese for individuals and chefs.This past week when the home kitchen
              orders came I requested methods and recipes.The "recipe"method of choice,(8 people,
              of 41) was a Julia Child etal VOL I "MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING".It
              is a very straightforward method,accurate and reliable.ALL DUCK (domestic) recipes
              translate to goose.Yes save the fat,bones etc,all contribute to more great eating.Goose
              will stretch a tad further than duck.(richer).
              Smoked domestic goose is wonderful,due to the fatty nature I only have great success
              if it is "hung",verticle,neck up.Seems not worth the time when you intend to roast.
              I roast mine upright,think beer can chicken,not in a regular capcity oven.My sister and
              a friend use the grill rotisserie.The recipes are a weave of Julia Child and WEBER.
              You should be able to find market geese in your area.One resource is the AMISH,most
              of the families have a source for goose.

              1. Goose is terrific! It is the creme de la creme when it comes to foi gras. The fat is absolutely worth conserving!

                My method for roasting both goose and duck (I like them stuffed, but not critical) is to slash "gills" with diagonal cuts down each side of the breast. Three to four slashes per side is fine. It is the breast skin that has the deep layer of subcutaneous fat attached to it. You want to slice through the skin completely, but not all the way through the fat. This is the best method for rendering the fat while keeping the bird moist. Many chefs (including Julia, on occasion) recommend piercing the skin with a sharp tined kitchen fork, but in my experience the fat often seals the peircings shut as it begins rendering out, and it's just not as effective.

                You can use any kind of stuffing for a goose your heart desires. If you want to go for unusual and unusually great, I make a fun stuffing out of roasted, peeled and roughly crumbled chestnuts (at least three or four cups, depending on the size of the bird), some chopped parsley, some chopped dried apricots, some walnut chunks (broken pieces), some chopped shallots, a couple of finely chopped celery leaves, a dash of ground cardamom, a touch of freshly grated nutmeg, salt, pepper, some white vermouth and some Grand Marnier. Mix it all together, add a slice of white bread turned to crumbs in the blender and a small egg. Toss lightly, stuff but don't pack the bird and roast. Glaze the goose during the last half hour with a couple of coats of Grand Marnier. And any extra dressing can be cooked in a casserole.

                But any dressing, from traditional sage dressing to corn bread, is delicious in a goose! Just be sure to roast it in a rack above the bottom of the pan. You'll have nice drippings, and drain off most of the fat for other uses, then use the pan to make your gravy/sauce.

                Hope you turn out to love goose as much as I do. Good luck!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1

                  interesting re stuffing---I've never tried stuffing a goose. its not just that I'm not big on stuffing [I do my turkey straight up too] but mroe that I was warned off by people who said the stuffing got too greasy and fatty due to all the fat rendering out. I would also think that stuffing the goose would impact the flavor of the fat and maybe restrict the usefulness in the post goose world.
                  or not.

                  1. re: jenn

                    I've never cooked an unstuffed goose. Ducks, yes. Geese? No! The primary location for fat storage in both geese and ducks is under the skin on the breast and spreading a little down the front of their bodies. Fat equals insulation. But under the fat is meat. Pretty lean meat. Should there be globs of fat at the cavity opening near the legs, you just pull it away as you do with a chicken. Then slash the breast as I described, and the fat renders into the pan, not into the goose's interior. I've had dressings with more fat in them from a turkey than I have from a goose. but stuffing isn't required. It's just the way I like to do it... '-)

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Maybe it depends on the goose or its the slashing that changes things. When I have cooked goose, at least 2-3 times per cooking, we end up picking up the goose and tipping it. An amazing amount of lovely fat always pours out of the cavity. And yes, I always pull the extra fat from the cavity before I roast it so I can render that fat first.

                      1. re: jenn

                        If the slashing goes all the way through the fat layer, you can dry out the underlying meat. But when done right, the slashing along with stuffing the goose and trussing it stops the rendered fat from saturating the dressing, and the dressing also helps keep the meat moist. I use an instant thermometer to check temperatures in several places, including the center of the dressing. When the goose is done, if the dressing isn't up to temp, I've been known to take it out, nuke it, then put it back prior to serving.. Sometimes I'm deceitful. '-)

                2. Goose fat...use it on bread instead of butter. AND, use it for everything else.
                  The last time I had goose at a restaurant, I asked them for a bit of fat for the bread and they said they didn't have any. WHAT? did you do with it? If they threw it away, it's not worth returning to this place. If they sold it, well, maybe. They certainly could not have eaten it all if the goose was just cooked that day. What happened to the fat. They wouldn't tell me. I haven't returned. Roasting goose at home is challenging. Find a good German, Swiss or Belgian restaurant. Goose fat makes the world's best sauce/gravy. Don't stuff it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: P Macias

                    isn't it funny how people get freaked by by-products, even when they're relatively harmless ones? try finding suet at the traditional butcher sometime.

                    such a waste. I'm kinda with the vegans on this (kinda in a relative sense) if we're going to use it - let's use it ALL.

                  2. I would buy a D'Artagnan goose. I have a fairly local supplier (1 hr drive, and worth it!). I bought ducks for Passover. Mmmm.
                    Here's their website -- search for goose. Includes recipes. http://www.dartagnan.com/

                    Once you get over FoF (fear of fat in the roasting), which I am so over having several ducks under my belt, as it were, a goose should be similar. Only thing is it's all dark meat. I do however remember very fondly a goose someone made at Xmas oh, about 20+ years ago and how delicious it was. I guess w/ that much fat it confits itself!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: NYchowcook

                      Roast goose is da bomb! I did one using the rotisserie attachment on my grill 2 years ago for XMas. My grill has a left-center-right burner configuration, but I would have preferred a front-middle- back configuration. Any ways it came out great. Took about 3-ish hours to cook a 14# goose @ 350F ( I think). I had to take the grates off and put a rimmed cookie sheet under the bird (rested on the burners). Make sure it is balanced on the spit. Drain the fat out of the pan with a metal baster periodically (I melted a plastic one - you live, you learn). And definitely save the goose fat!!

                    2. I'm glad this thread picked up, thanks for the advice everyone. Perhaps D'artagnan is the solution for my source. I have a few people scouring the countryside at the moment just in case though. My goal is to get out as much of the fat as possible (because I don't like to eat it with the skin, but I will certainly be saving it for other purposes).I don't have access to a rotisserie, but I figure if I take the gill slit recommendation (I too have been frustrated by the fork prick method) and couple it with the upright or tilted rack recommendation, and then add my own "low and slow" patience, I should be able to render it without drying it out too much.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: squabbit

                        I confess, the one thing I would worry about with the gill method is drying out the goose. I did that once --with a new oven that spiked--it was a tearful momment when the goose was presented in all its fatless despair......

                        1. re: jenn

                          You're piqued my curiosity! Was the goose stuffed? I've never had one dry out.

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            It was unstuffed but the oven [first time I really used it] spiked to around 450 and stayed there for a bit. We didn't realize it at first because we were across the drive at the neighbors cheering christmas. Then I started smelling it and realized the smell was ahead of schedule.

                            When I took it out, it was pretty darn sad. All the fat had rendered off the goose and it was---believe it or not--DRY!!!!

                            I actually did a dry duck once by mistake of course. I did the dip into boiling water and hang method only I hung too long or dipped too many times. The pores on the duck skin really opened up and all the fat just rendered out while it was cooking.

                            Sad, very very sad.......

                      2. would steaming it first ala bittman's duck work well?

                        1. Another Christmas, another goose. This years goose was frozen and not local etc. We had a lead on a fresh goose that was "happy raised" and organic but we just couldn't justify the price [$12 a pound]. Maybe next year.

                          Started this one upside down at 450 for about 45-50 minutes. Dumped the fat and flipped it and cooked it at 450 for another 20 minutes, then dropped it to 350. Dumped the fat again and added potatoes, quinces and onions. Continued cooking for another couple of hours.

                          Goose was NOT over done--I hadn't intended to cook it so high for so long but it seemed to work out well. In cutting up the goose for serving, it is a bit red in the deep thigh so I put those parts in the Christmas congee. But the breast etc was quite nice and sliced easily. No complaints at all.

                          1. I made the roast goose from CI, 1994 edition this Christmas. The goose came out delicious. The recipe included one for gravy (delicious) and stuffing (heavy and greasy). I would definitely go with those who skipped the stuffing and do mashed potatoes instead to soak up the delicious gravy, even if it isn't traditional. Roasting fruit and potatoes at the bottom of the pan sounds good too.

                            I used a frozen goose. One advantage I discovered is that when the goose is frozen the fat separates very easily from the skin, so at least at the thick section around the cavity you can get rid of a lot of fat simply by peeling it off. CI also recommends rendering some of the fat prior to cooking by immersing the goose in boiling water for one minute before roasting. Also prick the skin all over with a needle to aid the rendering process.

                            Another tip I can give you is don't waste time plucking pin feathers off of the raw bird. You'll be hauling it in and out of the oven several times, and the feathers come out much more easily after the goose has cooked for a while, and a lot of them simply disappear.

                            Roasting the goose was a snap, the meat is much tastier than turkey and everyone will enjoy the seasonal touch and change of pace. One downside, as someone mentioned, is that they don't have as much meat on them, so it's not appropriate for large groups. Count on one goose per family.