Monday, December 3, 2012


I think it was in 2005 that I started making a goose every year for the holidays.  Back then, it was one purchased from a local market that was located down the road from my office in northern New Jersey.

Blurry Photo Goose 2005
Every year thereafter it became an annual tradition to roast a goose. 

Ready for the Oven Circa 2007
Roasted Goose 2007
And, over the years I've purchased many from various markets in the City.  In some instances, I waited on line for more than an hour to pick it up. 

"Waiting" on line for over an hour 2011
And I am not one who likes to wait on line--let alone outside in sub-freezing temps.  But, it has become a tradition and the holidays wouldn't be the same without the annual roasted goose.

Goose From the Market
A goose has a very thick skin which conceals large amounts of fat. The fat needs to be drawn out of the bird during the cooking process. Properly cooked, the goose will not be greasy.  Roasting a goose or a duck requires some work and preparation not typical to roasting most other types of poultry such as a turkey or a chicken. 

So, my first attempt at making a goose was utilizing Chef Jacques Pepin's method of steaming the goose, then letting it sit in the fridge, uncovered, overnight.  The fatty skin on the goose becomes dry, sort of like parchment paper, and is literally covered with bumps--goose, that is.
The goose is then prepped and roasted in a traditional fashion-- sort of like a turkey or a duck or a chicken. Sort of.  We all know that a goose is not a turkey, just as a duck is not a chicken. 

Anyway... steaming the goose the night before is how I have been preparing it almost every year, and it has worked well every time. 

However, last year I opted to try something other than my traditional way.  I didn't steam the goose or let it sit uncovered overnight in the fridge.  Instead, I adapted a recipe for roasted goose from Chef Gordon Ramsey.  I figured that a British chef's recipe for a goose has to work.  It was a very simple method of just scoring the skin of the goose and smothering it with a mixture of spices and citrus zest and roasting it.  That method was also very good, but, as expected, different from steaming the goose first.
Last week, as I started thinking about this year's goose, I began to flip through one of my holiday cookbooks and discovered a recipe for goose stuffed with sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut?  I don't think I'll be trying that one.   

I'll continue with my Roasted Goose with Spices and Dried Fruit, which is always a winner--Steamed, first, of course.

One 12-pound goose, neck and giblets reserved, visible fat removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 cups warm water

Beginning at the neck end, work your fingers under the goose skin, snipping any fibers and sinews with kitchen scissors; work your fingers as far down over the thighs as possible.  Season the goose inside and out with salt and pepper.

Set the goose on a rack in a heavy roasting pan, breast side up. Add the neck, gizzard, heart and 5 cups of the water to the pan. Cover the goose with foil and seal the foil all around the edge of the pan. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 45 minutes.
Steaming the Goose
Remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer the rack with the goose to a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered overnight, until the skin is very dry, like parchment. Strain the pan juices and refrigerate. The strained juices will be used for the pan sauce.
Steamed Goose
Bring the goose to room temperature before roasting.  And now, the recipes.


Circa 2010
8oz dried figs, stems discarded
8 oz dried apricots (1 1/4 cups)
8 oz pitted prunes (1 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon whole allspice
2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns (black, white, green, and pink)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 (12-lb) goose that has been steamed; wing tips removed
2 medium onions, quartered
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
2/3 cup cognac
2 cups reserved goose pan juices from steaming the goose
1 Tablespoon arrowroot (or AP flour)
Prepare dried fruit:
Cover figs, apricots, and prunes with water in a 3-quart saucepan and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Drain. Reserve 2 cups of fruit.  Thread remaining fruit onto 4 metal skewers.
Prepare goose:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Crack allspice and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle (or spread spices on a kitchen towel and crack with bottom of a heavy skillet).  Stir cracked spices into melted butter.
Prick goose skin, especially thighs and breast, all over with a metal skewer.  Do not puncture meat.  Season goose well with salt inside and out. Fold neck skin under body.  Put onions and the reserved 2 cups of fruit in cavity and tie legs together loosely with string. Rub skin all over with spiced butter.
Pre-Oven Goose With Peppercorn Spices
Roast goose:
Put goose on rack in roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and continue to roast, basting goose and skimming off and reserving excess fat, every 30 minutes.
Arrange skewers with fruit on the rack around the goose.  Continue to roast goose, basting and skimming and reserving fat in same manner, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of a thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F and several fruits from bottom of cavity speared on thermometer register 160–165°F, about 1 hour more (juices will be slightly pink when thigh is pierced; temperature will rise to 175°F as goose stands).
Remove fruit from skewers and transfer to a bowl, or be creative and keep the fruit on two of the skewers and place skewers into goose. Transfer goose to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 30 minutes. Keep warm.

Make pan sauce:
Scrape the solidified fat off the refrigerated pan juices (the reminant juices from steaming the goose) and refrigerate for another use (roasting potatoes).   Put the rest of the pan juices into a measuring cup and set aside.
Pour off the fat in the roasting pan that was used to roast the goose.  Straddle the pan across 2 burners. Add shallots and saut√© over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add Cognac and deglaze pan by boiling and scraping up brown bits.  Add the reserved juices( from steaming the goose) to the pan and bring to a boil.  Pour the juices mixture into a saucepan.
Make a slurry of equal parts arrowroot and pan juice.  Add this into the saucepan and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and strain through a sieve.  Keep warm.
To Serve:
Discard onions from cavity of goose and add fruit from cavity to the fruit in bowl, then keep warm, covered. Carve goose, cutting breast into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve fruit and sauce on the side.


Roasted Goose with Spices and Citrus 2011
1 12-pound goose
4 lemons
3 limes
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp five-spice powder
1 sprig each of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
2 Tablespoons clover honey
2 Tablespoons Thyme leaves

Using the tip of a sharp knife, lightly score the breast and leg skin in a criss-cross. This helps the fat to render down more quickly during roasting.

Grate the zest from the lemons and limes. Mix with 2 tsp fine sea salt, the five-spice powder and pepper to taste. Season the cavity of the goose generously with salt, then rub the citrus mix well into the skin and sprinkle some inside the cavity.
Scored Goose with Zest and Spices 2011
Stuff the zested fruit and the herb sprigs inside the bird and set aside for at least 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 350degrees.

Drizzle the goose with the honey and sprinkle with thyme leaves.  Place goose in oven.  Every 30 minutes turn goose 1/4 and baste.  Gather any goose fat and reserve for another dish--potatoes, maybe.  Total cooking time should be about 2 1/2- 3 hours.  At the end of the cooking time, leave goose to rest for about 20-30 minutes, covered loosely with foil.

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