Roast goose isn't as popular as turkey for the Christmas feast - supermarkets sell just a few thousand geese per one million turkeys - but it's really worth considering if you fancy a change. It's expensive, and produces half the meat of a turkey so you're unlikely to get many leftover sandwiches out of it, but it is so delicious! The flesh is rich and juicy, the skin is the crispiest gold, and the goose fat is like liquid nectar for the ultimate roast potatoes. Plus goose meat is surprisingly lean. Even the fat is good for you when compared with other fats - it is high in 'heart healthy' monounsaturated fats which can lower blood cholesterol level.
Ask the butcher to prepare it for you: to remove the legs and excess carcass, to chop up the wings and neck into 2cm pieces and to remove the wish bone (this makes the goose easier to carve). If you were to roast the bird whole then the breast would be over-cooked and the legs would be tough.
1 (4.5- 5kg)
Goose, free range/organic, excess fat trimmed, legs removed, excess carcass removed and chopped
Bay leaf, chopped
Coarse sea salt
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Goose wings and neck, cut into 2cm pieces
Onion, cut in to 3cm pieces
Carrot, peeled, cut in to 3cm pieces
Celery, cut in to 3cm pieces
Water, hot from the tap
Cooking the goose:
Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
Rub the flesh of the goose legs with the bay leaf, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Reserve.
Brush the goose crown with the softened butter & season well with sea salt & freshly ground white pepper.
In a large heavy duty roasting pan, on a medium heat, colour the wings and neck in the oil for 5 minutes until lightly golden, add the vegetables and continue to brown for 3 minutes.
Place the goose legs skin side up in the bottom of the roasting tray with the coloured bones, vegetables and excess fat and cover the tray tightly with foil.
Roast in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 230°C.
Remove the foil from the tray, sit the goose crown on top the legs and bones and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 150°C, add the water, bay leaf and thyme to the roasting pan which will create your jus as it cooks.
Continue to cook for 30-35 minutes or until the breast reaches 55°C, basting every 10 minutes with the roasting juices.
Remove the crown from the oven and tightly wrap in foil. Rest for 30 minutes – continue to cook the goose legs during this time.
Remove the goose legs from the oven and then place on to a tray to rest. Reserve in a warm place until needed.
Finishing the roasting juices:
Pour off the excess fat that has rendered from the goose and reserve it for your roast potatoes.
Place the baking tray on a medium heat, bring to the boil and stir the bottom of the tray to incorporate the caramelised roasting juices. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.
Remember to pour the resting juices from the goose into the jus. Strain through a fine sieve into a warm sauce boat.
The jus can be thickened with 2g of arrowroot diluted in 2g of water if necessary.
You may be a little concerned about the cooking time (or lack of it). Believe me, it has been tried, tested and tried again. Just make sure you allow your goose to come to room temperature for 3 hours before going into the oven.
A non-scented oil with a high burning point would normally be used for roasting potatoes but the flavour and very high burning point of the natural goose fat lend itself well to this purpose. If you were to use your best extra virgin olive oil it would begin to de-nature and turn carcinogenic at 191°C.
When you caramelise the bones, do not colour them too much, or the resulting jus will taste bitter and astringent. And remember there is 2.5 hours of cooking ahead! The bones have two purposes: they serve as a support to the goose crown allowing the heat to circulate around to give a more even cooking. Often, the roast sitting directly on the bottom of the pan will dry out and burn. The caramelised bones will also provide a wonderful roasting pan jus.
The only way to remove all the fat would be to freeze the strained juices. This would cause the fat and jus to separate with the fat being able to be removed from the top once it had set firm. However, a small amount of fat should be left in the sauce as it will carry a huge amount of flavour from the roasting process.