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Posts tagged ‘christmas goose’

How Your Goose Gets Cooked

The tradition of a roasted goose on the holiday table goes way, way back. The people of ancient Greece and Rome may have been celebrating different festivals, but they did so with the very same bird we do. From medieval days right through to the Victorian depiction in Charles Dickens, the goose has remained the ubiquitous holiday bird in all of Europe.

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The reason is the natural rhythm of its lifespan; a goose is at its fattest (think tastiest) after it feeds on late harvest grains to  bulk up for the cold months. And that falls right in step with the autumnal and winter holidays.

If you’ve decided you want to be a part of this long tradition, but have never prepared a goose before, there are a few things you should know. Of course, roasting a big bird like a turkey or a duck is much the same process. One thing you will notice is an astonishing amount of fat renders out of a goose.

There’s no reason to get nervous about your goose, just be prepared. Check out  the tips on our website here and here.

And watch Ariane talking goose in the Le Creuset Film Series below.

We have several goose recipes, including this Alsatian one which involves foie gras and chestnuts (lovely for the holidays). One of the nice things about the dark meat of a goose is how it well pairs with fruits, such as the pears in this recipe.

Ariane’s favorite version is the gala goose here, a recipe in which the goose is first poached and then roasted, which tenderizes the meat, renders out the fat and allows the skin to crisp.  Though it’s an involved process, this really is the right way to cook your goose. And you get the benefit of all that lovely fat rendered cleanly out; it’s perfect for the potatoes or other vegetables you serve alongside the main attraction.

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Roast Gala Goose Recipe

Forget your fear of flabby, greasy goose! This do-ahead method produces a succulent, flavorful bird with crispy skin. After poaching, only a half-hour of high-heat roasting is needed before serving.  It’s a classic and perfect centerpiece for a Christmas meal and should serve six.

Recipe_Gala_Goose_HomeMedium

Ingredients

One 9 to 11lb goose
3 tablespoons rendered goose fat
1½ cups each coarsely chopped carrots, onions, and celery
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups dry white wine
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
Peelings from 1 green apple (optional)
6 cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, cleaned, and coarsely chopped, liquid strained and reserved
½ cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons Armagnac
1 tablespoon red currant jelly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Remove giblets and neck from cavity, pull off any loose fat, and cut off first 2 wing joints, if still attached, and reserve. Wash goose, tie legs together, pick bird all over, and set aside.
  2. Put goose fat in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and render about 3 tablespoons of fat. Remove and discard remaining fat (or use later). Add giblets, wing pieces, neck, and vegetables to pan. Sauté until vegetables are browned, about 7 to 8 minutes, turning frequently. Sprinkle on flour, adjust heat to medium, and continue cooking until flour is lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Pour chicken stock and white wine into a covered roasting dish large enough to hold the goose, and bring to a boil. Add goose, breast side down, pieces of browned goose, and vegetables, parsley, apple peelings, cloves, and bay leaf. Pour in enough water to cover goose by about two-thirds, and bring to a simmer. Whisk a cup of this liquid into the sauté pan, then scrape the thickened liquid back into the roasting pan.
  4. Cover pan and cook very gently, regulating heat, if necessary, to keep it just simmering.
  5. After an hour, turn goose over, being careful not to break the skin. (A pair of rubber gloves is an easy way to do this.) Poach goose a total of 2 to 3 hours, or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off heat and finish immediately, later in the day, or the next day.
  6. Recipe may be done ahead to this point.
  7. To finish immediately, preheat oven to 450° F.
  8. Remove goose from liquid, drain, and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until skin is brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Take out of oven, and allow to stand for about 5 to 20 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, skim grease from pan liquid and strain to remove pieces of goose, vegetables, and seasonings. Discard pieces of goose and seasonings. Purée vegetables in a blender or food processor, and add back to pan. Boil quickly to reduce liquid by about half.
  10. Add porcini and soaking liquid, cherries, Armagnac, and red currant jelly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep warm until needed.
  11. To finish later or the next day, cover pan and set in refrigerator. When ready, remove layer of fat from liquid. Lift out goose and bring liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, then reheat goose in stock for about 10 minutes while preheating oven. Proceed with recipe as above.

About the Goose

If your goose is well cooked, it has a succulent, tender dark meat that is rich tasting but free of fat.  A fine roasted goose can be a feast for king and peasant alike, suggested the French writer Honoré de Balzac.

White Embdem Goose

White Embdem Goose

Although plentiful and relatively inexpensive for the common man throughout history, these long-necked, web-footed birds are a rich source of legend and folktales. Egyptian mythology tells that a goose laid the primal egg from which the sun god, Ra, sprang. Brahma, the Hindu personification of divine reality and spiritual purity, rides a great gander. Until the Romans conquered the Gauls, who taught them how to feed and cook their geese, the Romans considered the birds sacred.

Charlemagne was so fond of eating goose he mandated that his lands be kept supplied with them. Queen Elizabeth I was another fan. One tradition says that when she was told about the destruction of the Spanish Armada, it was September 29, the Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas, and she was dining on roast goose with sage and onion stuffing. She decreed that thereafter goose was to be served on this day in celebration.

Roasted Goose

Roasted Goose

Yet, for all these colorful tales, goose seems to elicit scowls or shrugs of frustration from home cooks. “It’s fine to let someone else fuss,” is the popular sentiment about geese. The perception of a fatty bird with a large frame and poor ratio of meat to bone is accurate, particularly when speaking about domestic geese. Incidentally, goose refers to a male or female. A gander is a male; a gosling is a young goose under 4 months of age.

Geese are actually pretty clever. The birds are also notoriously territorial. On farms, if geese are not fed by the same person every day they stage a hunger strike. If someone unknown tried to enter their domain, they are likely to attack. This characteristic has been appreciated through the ages. Romans kept geese at their villas as pets to protect their children and properties, and NASA has a flock to guard its launch pads.

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White Embden Goose, the same type we carry at D’Artagnan

Breeds of Geese
The bird raised for the table in America is the white Embden goose from Germany. It is pure white with an orange bill and orange legs and feet. The average dressed weight is 10 to 12 pounds. In France, there are Toulouse geese that are roasted and a subspecies, the Masseube, a gray goose with a big thoracic capacity where the liver expands for foie gras. Masseube geese can be very heavy. But once the liver is taken, they are quite fatty, and good to eat only when made into confit. Domesticated Chinese geese are smaller, brown-and-white birds.

Wild geese, of which the principal varieties are the Canada goose, snow goose, blue goose, and brant (black), are extremely lean and generally smaller than their domesticated cousins. However, in the 13th century, Marco Polo reported that the wild geese he saw in Fuchow weighed up to 24 pounds. The reports were accurate: they are still the largest wild geese.

Famous Toulouse goose of France

Famous Toulouse goose of France

Geese spend their lives flying and grazing on foods in their environment. If their principal diet is fish, beware; the bird may be very pungent. However, if they eat mostly grains, they are divine. The best wild geese to roast or grill are young birds, weighing about 5 pounds. They should be barded to protect the flesh from drying out.

Geese lay their eggs in the spring. Therefore, by Christmas a young goose is at its optimum weight. And that’s when most people think of having a goose.

Buying and Preparing Goose
When buying, look for a young bird, one that is about 6 to 8 months, and between 8 and 12 pounds. In estimating serving size, you should allow 1 ½ to 2 pounds of goose (raw weight) per person. Fresh geese are not available during February and March because the older birds are stringy and tough. If you have a mature bird, more than 12 pounds, you should braise, stew, or confit it in pieces, as you would a duck.

Rawgoose

Our Goose

To prepare a goose cut off the excess fat from the neck and from the inside cavities. The fat may be rendered like duck fat and made into cracklings, or used to cook potatoes, croutons, or omelets. Prick the skin of the back, breast and legs well to let to fat escape as the bird cooks. There will be a lot of fat –up to a quart—so it needs to be removed at least every 30 minutes during cooking. A bulb baster or large spoon will work. Take care; that fat is very hot!

As with most poultry, the problem with geese is that if they are cooked whole, the breast gets done first and can dry out while the legs are finishing. Either remove the breast and keep it warm, or tent it with aluminum foil. Either way, continue to baste the legs often to keep them moist.

The goose is cooked when the meat measures 165 degrees to 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and the breast juices run pale pink (not rose-colored, like a duck’s) when pricked. As a rule of thumb, calculate between 13 and 15 minutes per pound unstuffed, and 18 to 22 minutes per pound stuffed. When the goose is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 to 25 minutes before carving.

To reheat a goose, cover the bird with aluminum foil and put it back in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) until heated through. Alternately, reheat in a sauce to keep moist.


RECIPE SUGGESTIONS:

Gala Goose

Goose with Roasted Apples

Michaelmas Goose

Roast Goose Breast & Braised Legs with Cassis Sauce