Make Roast Goose for a Dickens Christmas

Roast Goose
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  • Total: 15 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 12 hrs 30 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 8 servings

One of the most memorable parts of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is when the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to the house of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, as the family sits down for Christmas dinner, and the roasted goose is a prominent part of the scene. This depiction of a Victorian-era English Christmas dinner has become embedded in the cultural traditions of the holiday for Americans. Take a cue from Dickens and make this an old-fashioned Christmas dinner with roasted goose and all the fixings.

The overnight brining in this recipe ensures flavorful and moist meat. Filling the cavity with fruit not only gives the roasted goose a wonderful flavor and scent—it also makes your kitchen smell divine. Also, carefully pricking the skin is the secret to a beautiful, crispy finish.


  • 1 1/2 gallons water (cold)
  • 1 cup salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 to 12 pounds young goose (fully thawed)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 apple (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 orange (quartered)
  • 1 lemon (quartered)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Fill a container or stockpot large enough to fit the goose and brine mixture with 1 1/2 gallons of cold water.

  3. Add the salt, sugar, bay leaves, and peppercorns; stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.

  4. Unwrap the goose and remove anything in the cavity. Rinse and trim any excess fat from the neck and/or tail end of the goose and place into the brine so that it is completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.

  5. Remove the goose from the brine and pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels.

  6. Sprinkle the goose cavity generously with salt and pepper. Put the apple, onion, orange, and lemon into the cavity.

  7. Place the goose, breast-side up, in a large roasting pan with a rack to keep the bird at least 1 inch off the bottom.

  8. Salt and pepper the goose to taste and add 2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan.

  9. With a small sharp knife or large needle, prick the goose skin all over, especially where you can see and feel fat under the surface. Be careful not to pierce the flesh, only the skin and fat. This will allow the fat to drain during the cooking and make for a crisper skin.

  10. Roast at 350 F for 2 1/4 to 3 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat of 170 F.

  11. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 25 minutes before carving.

  12. Serve and enjoy!