Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Roast Goose

Several years back the family and I did a themed Christmas--Dickens themed to be exact.  This mainly involved costumes, but some of it translated to the food as well.  We had (in addition to the Turkey) a standing rib roast and some sort of figgy pudding.  What we didn't have, though, was the quintessential centerpiece for any Victorian-themed table:  A Roast Goose.

Reason--Well, I couldn't find one, but I have to admit, back then, I didn't look that hard.  I was a little bit intimidated by roasting a goose for the first time, and perhaps a bit worried how the family would take to it.

Well, I was at the grocery the other day and I saw frozen geese for sale, and the wheels in my brain started turning.  Should I finally try this for Christmas?  Well, it was a few weeks before, so I decided this was the perfect time to to a test roast on a goose--see if I could pull it off and see how it tasted.

Here's the goose I found at the store:

I'd seen this brand once at Central Market selling for around $75 bucks for an eight to nine pound bird.  This one (same brand) was selling for $35 at my local groc, so I figured it was time to snatch one up.

Out of the plastic and thawed it looked like this.

Much longer and thinner than a fat American turkey.  Also, check out these wings:

Unlike the stubby wings of a common turkey, the goose is a true flier, so it's got some incredible wings.  They were so long, in fact, that I trimmed them up a bit (saving the cut pieces for stock)

Now, how to roast this sucker?   I've roasted quite a few turkeys over the last 20 years or so, and despite the fact that many people find such a thing intimidating, it couldn't be any easier.  Roasting a turkey is just a matter of time and temperature.  Roast it in the oven until it reaches the right temp--just don't overcook it.  Turkey comes out perfect with the breast 165˚F and the legs about 180˚F.

In researching goose roasting techniques, I found recommendations all across the board as to final temp.  Martha Stewart said to roast until the breast was 180˚F.  I cringed a little at this, as even I with my limited goose roasting knowledge knew that such would dry out that breast.

The FDA says to cook goose to 165˚F.  That's fine with nice white meat turkey, but with the dark red meat of goose?  Finally Hank Shaw, author of the cookbook Duck, Duck, Goose, recommended the rather unorthodox technique of cooking the breasts to 135˚F, then removing them, and then cooking the rest of the bird to 180˚F.  This sounded intriguing, as several other recipes said 135˚F was fine for the breast.  But, I really wanted a whole bird as the final product, as it makes such a purdy presentation.

I finally decided to roast to 150˚F in the breast, and see where I got with the thighs and other dark meat.

To prep, first I used a sharp boning knife to cut several slits in the skin of the breast, drum and thighs.

This bird is going to render a lot of fat, so you've got to give it a way to leak out.  By the by, just as with my entry on duck breast, don't throw out that fat, it is one of the most luxurious fats there is, great for roasting or flavoring other dishes.

After this, I squeezed some lemon juice on the skin,

then rubbed it in with the lemon.

Then I deposited the squeezed lemons into the bird's cavity,

Along with some fresh rosemary from the garden.

Then it's into the oven at 325˚F.

Yes, this is a rather low temp, but as Hank Shaw suggests, the bird needs time to render that fat out.

I ended up roasting for about an hour and forty-five minutes to get to 150˚F in the breast.  The thigh at this point was about 165F, so it was acceptable.

Here's the final product.

Take a gander at that goose!

The breasts are a little thin for carving like a traditional turkey, so I removed them and sliced them crosswise instead, as you can see below.

Final verdict:  The bird was good, but the decision I made to get a 'whole bird' presentation compromised things a bit.  The breast was tasty, but a bit dry.  Next time I will try the 'remove the breasts at 135˚F' technique.  I think, like my duck recipe, they will be much better that way.  This is a red meat bird, like duck, and I think it is best on the rare side.  As for the thigh meat, it was still a little oily--it could have benefited from a longer cooking time.  Shaw says if you take the thighs to 180˚F, you'll get almost a confit-like, falling apart consistency, which is intriguing, as I like duck confit, so I may just do everything separate next time.

Anyway, it was a worthy experiment.  Oh, and that fat.  I roasted some potatoes in it.  Best I've ever tasted.

Until next time,

Hope you get a goose out of this recipe!


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