There did not seem to be many recipes or instructions for cooking a goose. The ones I found had dire warnings of oven fires and tales of orneriness of a goose in life as well as in death; not very encouraging if you ask me. But I have bought my goose so I might as well resign to its inevitable hissing fit. I informed the “hungry” hubby that we needed to cover the countertops with saran wrap and add an extra layer of aluminum foil to it since the business of cooking this fowl involves a lot of rendered fat. Knowing what a klutz and absentminded cook I am he nodded profusely in agreement, after all the picture of me dripping goose fat all over the kitchen is not an attractive proposition especially to his semi obsessive-compulsive self about a spotless kitchen. Oh and keep the fire extinguisher close by; to this he thought I was joking, so I showed him a video of Gordon Ramsay cooking a goose and pouring all that goose fat into a measuring cup. That sobered him up and I could see in his eyes the question of “Can we just skip the roasted goose dinner?”. He even offered to chop it up and grill it outside; great honey, just set the grill on fire instead.
Even if I was dubious of Gordon Ramsay’s instructions (he makes it looks so easy when it really isn’t) I decided that his way was the best route, after all there was a video of him making it so we know that this was actually tested, right? Well, it turns out I should have listened to my instincts instead of following his recipe to the letter; more of my musings in the “Cooking Notes” that follow this recipe.
Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Goose
1 goose, approx 9-12 lbs in weight
1 orange, finely zested and sliced into halves
2 lemons, finely zested and sliced into halves
2 heaped tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp runny honey, to drizzle
Place a deep roasting pan with a wire rack in the oven and preheat to the highest setting, about 450F. Remove the giblets from the main cavity of the goose and trim off any excess fat.
Coarsely grind the orange and lemon zest, five spice powder, salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar.
Lightly score the skin of the goose in a criss-cross pattern using a sharp knife, taking care not to slice through the flesh. Rub the seasoning all over the skin.
Season and stuff the neck-end cavity of the goose with the lemon wedges, tucking the flap of skin neatly down around it.
Place the goose on to the preheated wire rack and roasting pan, breast-side up, and bake for minutes until the skin is golden-brown. Turn down the heat to 350F and roast for another 30 minutes.
Pour off some of the fat from the roasting tin. (Don’t throw out the fat – it is wonderful to roast potatoes with.) Drizzle the honey over the goose. With a sharp knife, cut around the thighs and prise the legs open. (This will allow the heat to penetrate the dark meat and ensure that they cook at the same time as the breast meat.) Baste the thighs with a little goose fat and drizzle with more honey.
Place the goose back in the oven and roast for another half hour until browned and slightly caramelized. The flesh should feel firm with a bit of spring when lightly pressed with your finger. Alternatively, insert an electronic probe or a meat thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh. It should register 160°F. (Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bone or the reading will not be accurate.)
Remove the goose from the oven and cover loosely with tin foil. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
To carve, first cut off the wings and legs and set aside. Carve thin slices off the breast meat. Cut down the centre of the legs to separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Holding them upright on the chopping board, slice off the meat around the thighs and drumsticks. Arrange the meat on a large platter and serve.
The goose browned beautifully and did not hiss too much at all. I was able to extract about 3 cups of goose fat, no kidding! Goose fat is great in potatoes, just to let you know. For this it would be helpful to have a sauce pan sitting in the sink to empty the fat in between cooking. Some of the breast meat though got too dry it was rubbery and the thigh meat was not cook through the bone the way I want it. I think Ramsay intended it to be cooked to 160 °F but I wanted an internal temperature of 170 °F. What I should have done is follow Julia Child’s instruction which was to cook the goose on its side for the first 15 minutes @ 450 °F and then flip it to the other side for another 15 minutes before cooking it breast side up at 325 °F. I will also admit to a fault in that my criss-cross pattern did puncture into the flesh which was probably why the outer part of the breast was rubbery. The thigh legs I just popped into my smaller toaster oven for another 10 minutes at 350 °F and that did the trick. There is not much meat to a goose so I would not prepare it for more than 4 people especially since the people I know are quite hearty eaters. Save for some rubbery breast meat, the rest of the goose tasted amazing! The seasoning of Chinese Five Spice and lemon was perfect for the bird and the aroma that wafted from the oven was simply divine. While the goose was roasting I kept on adding water to the roasting pan so the fat will not burn. Towards the end though, I let it caramelize a little so I can make some gravy from it. Clean up was a breeze as we released all the saran wraps and threw them away. So, will I be cooking a goose again? That’s a maybe. “Hungry” hubby was not too crazy about the texture of goose meat, but he gave a thumb up to the seasoning. I wonder if this recipe would work for a duck. In any case, if any of you foodies have any idea of how to make cooking a goose more fool proof, drop me a comment!