Roast a Goose

Roasted goose with fresh herbs
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If you prefer poultry's dark meat, are planning a holiday meal for 6 to 8 people, or are just an adventurous cook, maybe it's time for you to learn how to roast a goose. The cooking process is not too hard and the results are juicy and tasty meat.

Why Cook Goose

Goose is extremely fatty, similar to duck. They're big enough to serve a large crowd: in the ballpark of 10 to 12 pounds for a young goose. (To be precise, what we roast is technically a gosling, about 6 to 8 months of age.) Like duck, it's also a red-meat bird and goose breast is meant to be cooked medium rare. You'll want to watch the cooking closely, the overcooked goose isn't like overcooked chicken or turkey. Instead of turning dry and stringy, it will become tough and chewy and taste like liver.

Prepare the Goose

You'll want to buy a grain-fed goose. Fresh geese are usually available most of the year (April to January) and frozen ones are available year-round. If you get a frozen one, be sure to defrost it in the refrigerator, just as you would for a frozen turkey. For a 10 to 12 pound goose, expect this to take 48 hours. Once it's thawed, let the goose sit at room temperature for half an hour before you begin cooking. (Do this with a fresh one as well.)

There may be whole slabs of fat within the body cavity, which you should pull out. Trim away the tail and those loose flaps of skin around the opening of the body cavity. Save these bits! Goose fat is a marvelous thing. You can render it out to use for searing the breasts and also for making roasted potatoes. Simply drop the fat into a small saucepan along with about a cup of water. Simmer until the fat melts, then chill and scrape the solidified fat off the top.

Be sure to pull out the giblets and use the neck in particular to make gravy. The gizzard is good for gravy too, but skip the liver and heart and kidney, as their flavor can be a bit much.

Rendering the Fat

Since goose has large amounts of fat under the skin, you have to render it out so that you don't just bite into mouthfuls of fat when you eat it. Quite a few roasted goose recipes start off by steaming the goose to render out the fat. Sometimes the steaming is followed by braising, concluding with browning the skin.

As a cooking technique, this is perfectly valid, but it's not technically roasting. A goose cooked that way will not have crispy skin and crispy skin is one of the highlights of a roasted goose.

You can steam the goose to render out the fat and then roast it. If you do this, you'll need to let the goose dry out overnight to ensure that the skin crisps up when you roast it. To start the rendering, you'll need a roasting pan with a rack, an instant-read thermometer, and a digital probe thermometer.

Steps to Roast the Goose

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Prep the goose by pricking the skin with a heavy gauge needle or safety pin. Prick at an angle so you don't go too deep. You only want to pierce the skin and the fat, not the flesh underneath.
  2. Season inside and out with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Halve an apple, an orange, and an onion and stuff them into the cavity, along with some fresh sage.
  3. Place the rack in the pan and the goose on the rack. Pour 2 cups of hot water into the pan and transfer to the oven.
  4. Roast for about 40 minutes, then take the temperature at the breast with your instant-read thermometer. If it reads below 130 degrees Fahrenheit, leave it in and check again in a few minutes. Once the temperature of the breast is reading between 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, take the goose out and carve off the breasts. Set them aside and cover in foil. The breast meat should look pink.
  5. Insert your probe thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh and set the alert temperature for 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Return the bird to the oven and roast until the thermometer alert goes off, another 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the goose from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Get a sauté pan hot, add some of your rendered goose fat and sear the breasts, skin-side down, for about 4 minutes, until the skin is super crispy and golden brown. Set aside.
  7. Carve off the legs and wings and sear them the same way, skin-side down. Meanwhile, slice the breasts on a slight bias. When the legs and wings are nicely browned, remove from heat.

The liquid at the bottom of the pan is valuable. Pour it into a container and let it chill. The fat will rise to the top and you can use the liquid below for stock.

As for the fat, it's worth its weight in gold. Use it for roasting potatoes, roasting vegetables, sautéeing, or anywhere you'd use butter. It can even serve as shortening for pie crusts or other baked goodies.