August 22, 2010
A friend of mine offered me a 10 lb Goose recently. She’d bought it at Christmas, hadn’t cooked it and the poor thing had languished in the freezer for a while – she wanted to give goosey a good send off and reclaim the freezer space. I jumped at the chance to cook goose for the second time in a year, since normally it’s just for Christmas.
Geese are quite different to turkey or even duck. Goose meat is fairly dark and is gamey or beef like in texture and flavour. Geese which naturally migrate hundreds of miles, have to eat huge amounts to put on fat in order to keep flying and stay warm. Geese will apparently gorge themselves to this end – it is said that foie gras was invented or discovered and encouraged by the the Ancient Egyptians, more than 2000 years ago.
I left the goose to thaw for 2 days, in a cool box. It’s preferable to cook meat at room temperature and I also wanted to allow the goose to breathe for a couple of hours, outside of the plastic bag it have been frozen in. In the meantime I fried up the goose liver for lunch (which was delicious) and added the rest of the giblets to my stock recipe, to simmer for an hour or two. This is for making gravy.
Recipe for roast goose:
To cook a goose you need a large oven tray with a rack inside of it. Geese are full of fat and you don’t want your bird to be boiled or poached in fat, so a rack is needed to keep it up above the bottom of the tray. As it’s not Christmas, I didn’t make stuffing (which would add an hour to the cooking time), but I did want to add some flavour to the goose, so I put some herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme), a large nob of butter, an onion, lots of garlic and salt and pepper into the cavity. I sprinkled some salt and pepper on the breast too. It’s important to prick your goose all over with a large needle or the sharp point of a small knife – pay particular attention to the sides, around the legs and around the cavity opening. On this particular bird I could see large pockets of fat between the legs and wings.
Heat your oven to about 220º C before putting your roast in to cook. I estimated that the bird would take about 3 hours to cook and to my taste and for the size, it was the perfect time. Turn the oven down to about 180º C after the first half hour. Check your goose at half hour intervals and pour off some fat each time. Goose is practically self basting via the fat it contains, so if it looks moist there’s no need for basting. If however the breast looks in any way dry and there’s still red juice coming from around the legs, you can do a little basting with the goose fat. If your rack lifts the goose a long way off the bottom of the tray, you can even roast potatoes underneath. You’d still want to be pouring off some fat at regular intervals. This goose gave me about 2 pints of goose fat – you wouldn’t want to be deep frying potatoes and I don’t recommend roasting vegetables under the goose – they will end up very greasy. I did see a fool do this once at Christmas and the vegetables were quite disgusting.
Turn your goose over after an hour or so – this allows it to cook on all sides. You shouldn’t need to cover it in foil at all and you do want crispy skin, so this may also give the breast some breathing space so it doesn’t brown too much. Only give it an hour breast side down and then turn it back upright for the final hour. Goose meat can be served a little pink, but if you serve the breast pink the skin will not be crispy and the legs will be under cooked. I tend to go for just cooked all over with a nice crisp skin. Use a fork and prick behind the legs to see if the juice is clear – that’s a good indicator of the roast being done. If you use a meat thermometer you can cook it to perfection – I have found that the 20 minutes per pound rule can (in comparison to a thermometer) lead to over cooked meat, in a large bird.
Use a little of the goose fat to roast your potatoes and put the rest in jars – it will keep for months in the fridge (I’d only just finished the goose fat from Christmas) and it is the very best thing for roast potatoes.
Once your roast is done, remove it from the oven and rest it for 30 minutes before carving – I recommend this for any type of roast, it makes the meat succulent. Wrap the meat up well to keep it warm. Geese do not have the same amount of meat as a turkey, pound for pound. From my own point of view, I would suggest a 10 lb goose feeds about 4 – 5 people.
While your meat is resting you have time to finish of the roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy.