Follow me as I show you how to roast a goose to succulent, tender, perfection. I finally found the method (after many years of trying). This long, slow roasting technique works magic on that magestic bird. (Skip to recipe.)
Well, the goose has been ordered, as well as the meat for the Christmas Eve Rouladen. It's a week til Christmas Eve and decorations are only partially up, shopping just barely started, and we haven't found our tree yet. But none of that matters, because the kids are coming home and the Christmas goose will be in the oven.
For as long as I can remember, my mom has cooked the Christmas goose, and I never paid much attention to it. It was always delicious; though some years really tender, other years not as much. But because there was usually so much other food on the table, that didn't seem to matter. Then a few years ago, it started falling to me to cook that goose.
And no matter what I did to it; the goose came out of the oven as tough as an old shoe (a very pricey old shoe). It would be bronzed and shining, but man, to chew that bird gave you a jaw ache. I tried blasting it with high heat, I tried cooking it for a few hours on slow heat. In a closed roaster, in an open one. Stuffed and not stuffed.
Then last year while leafing through a stack of old German magazines my aunt gave me, I discovered this unusual method for how to roast a goose. Wunderbar! An hour-long blast at high, high heat, then 7 hours - yes, 7 hours! - at low, low, verrryyy low heat. Man, those Germans sure do know how to cook a goose. I was intrigued and used the roasting technique on our goose.
It was bronzed to a gleaming polish, the meat was moist, tender, and so full of flavour. We gobbled up every scrap of meat off that beautiful bird. I can't wait to roast one again this year for our Christmas dinner. I'll serve it with parsnip mashed potatoes or dumplings, there'll be brussel sprouts with mustard and bacon, probably carrot ribbons with cream and nutmeg, and a green salad. For dessert, there'll be some kind of cake since it's our oldest son's birthday on Christmas day (special guy, right?), and a platter of baking to nibble on later.
If a roast goose is part of your Christmas tradition, lucky you. If you would like to roast a goose for a special feast but have been intimidated by how to do it, search no further.
'Cause now you have the secret to cooking the best goose ever.
And yes, it takes a long time, but the beauty of it is, you get to plunk the goose into the oven in the morning, and then you get to cavort and play or relax and visit for the whole rest of the day, to pull a beautiful golden bird with crispy skin and tender meat from the oven when it's time for dinner. Take a bow when you hear the oohs and ahhhs.
How to Roast a Goose (even if you're not German)
Rinse and pat the bird dry. Salt it all over and prick the skin with a knife tip or skewer to allow the fat to cook out as the goose is roasting.
Stuff it with onions and lemon or with sauerkraut and prunes (my mom's way, and it's delicious!)
Try this nifty trick for trussing your goose. Poke toothpicks into both sides of the skin all along the opening of the cavity.
Wrap the string right to the end and tie it off.
The goose is trussed. Now it goes breast side down into the roaster.
Blast it for 30 minutes, turn it, blast it for another 30, then turn the heat waaaayyyy down and roast that bird for seven! more hours.
Look what you get.
Now make your gravy, and slice into that moist, tender bird.
Enjoy your holiday feast.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Remember to defrost your goose at least a day ahead. Because this roasting method takes such a long time, it's best to serve it for a late afternoon or an evening dinner. Start prepping and roasting your goose in the morning. Since the goose takes up the oven for most of the day, I like making side dishes I can prepare on top of the stove.
Save all the fat that accumulates in your roasting pan. Pour it off and strain it into a jar. Keep it in the fridge. It's a very healthy fat and great to use as a cooking fat. Goose fat is wonderful for roasting potatoes or other vegetables, making them especially crisp and flavourful.
(adapted from Liebes Land magazine, Nr. 11/ November 2013, Germany)
Time: 9 hours, including goose prep, cooking time, resting, and carving (8 hours total roasting time)
- 1 large goose, 8 to 10 lbs (3.6 to 4.5 kgs)
To stuff the goose
- 1 jar or can (900ml/32 oz) of sauerkraut
- 12 prunes
- 2 medium onions
- 4 to 5 slices of lemon
- 6 to 8 fresh sage leaves (optional)
Extra supplies needed: round wooden toothpicks and cotton kitchen twine
For the Gravy:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- reserved neck and wing tips from the goose
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks of celery or ½ of a small celery root
- 1 leek
- 1 litre (4 cups) water
- flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch, or gravy thickener
- gluten free soy sauce or salt (the soy sauce adds a nice brown to the gravy)
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Remove the neck and any innards that might be stuffed inside the goose. Trim any large fat deposits from the inside of the goose and save them for the gravy. Rinse the goose on the inside and outside with cold water, then pat it dry with paper towel. Cut off the wing tips and set them aside for the gravy. Cut off and remove the pope's nose (tail) or push it to the inside of the goose's cavity. Sprinkle the goose generously all over with salt. If you'll be using the onion + sage stuffing, salt the inside of the goose as well. If you'll be using the sauerkraut + prune stuffing, omit the salt on the inside of the goose.
If using the sauerkraut + prune stuffing: drain the sauerkraut, lightly squeezing out the excess juice. Toss the sauerkraut with the prunes, and use just enough of it to stuff the mixture loosely into the cavity of the goose.
If using the onion + lemon + sage stuffing: peel the onions and cut them into quarters, then cut each quarter crosswise in half, to form large chunks. Tear the sage leaves into smaller chunks. Stuff the cavity of the goose with the onions, lemon slices, and sage leaves.
Close up the cavity of the goose by poking the round wooden toothpicks through the skin on both sides of the opening, pulling the two sides of the incision together. Place the toothpicks about ¾ inch (2cm) apart, all the way from the bottom to the top of the incision. Cut a piece of kitchen twine about 3 feet long. See the photo above for a visual on how to tie up the opening of the goose. Loop the center of the string around the top or bottom toothpick, then criss-cross the ends of the string and bring them up around the next toothpick. Cross the string ends again and bring them up around the next toothpick. Repeat until you get to the last toothpick at the other end. Tie the string off and trim the ends.
Poke the skin of the goose all over with the tip of a small sharp knife or a metal skewer, trying to poke just into the skin, but not into the meat of the bird. Poking at an angle works well. This will give the fat places to drain out as the goose roasts and makes for a crisper skin.
Place the goose breast-side-down on a rack in a roasting pan large enough to fit it comfortably. Roast the goose in the preheated (425°F/220°C) oven for 30 minutes, uncovered, then turn the goose over (remove the roasting pan from the oven and use two large meat forks poked into the sides of the goose to help you turn it over). Roast it for 30 more minutes at high heat with the breast-side-up, uncovered.
Reduce the heat to 175°F/80°C and open the oven door for two minutes to let the heat escape so the oven comes down to temperature more quickly.
Roast the goose for 7 hours at this low temperature, uncovered (or until the interior temperature of the goose meat reaches 158°F/70°C).
To make the gravy: About 1½ hours before the goose is finished, heat the oil in a large saucepan or if you have chunks of fat from the goose, use that instead of oil. Saute the goose neck and wing tips (and pope's nose, if you removed it) in the oil or fat until they are a nice deep brown. While they are browning, peel and chop the onion, clean and chop the carrot, celery, and leek. Add the chopped vegetables to the browned goose parts and fry for 5 minutes longer.
Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the meat and vegetables, uncovered, for about an hour until the liquid is reduced by half. Drain through a sieve into a clean saucepan.
Remove the roasting pan with the goose from the oven, and turn the oven heat back up to 425°F (220°C).
Remove the goose from the pan to a platter. Pour the goose fat out of the roasting pan into a jar (save it for roasting potatoes or other vegetables). Stop pouring out the fat once you get to the roasting juices. Scrape the roasting juices and any bits of crispy brown fond from the bottom of the roaster into the gravy stock.
Bring the gravy stock to a boil and thicken it with a flour slurry of your choice (shake together several tablespoons of flour or sweet rice flour with about a quarter cup or more of water), then pour this into the boiling gravy, stirring constantly. Pour in the amount you need until the gravy reaches the thickness you like.
Season to taste with pepper and soy sauce or salt.
Put the goose back into the roasting pan and return it to the heated-up oven. Roast it for 10 more minutes to crisp up the skin. Remove it from the oven, tent it with foil, and rest it for 10 to 15 minutes, then carve.
Pull out the toothpicks and remove the string before carving the goose.
Serves 6 people.
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