How to cook a goose
Whether you're a seasoned lover of goose or trying it for the first time, read our expert tips for buying, preparing, roasting and carving this beautiful bird.
If turkey is an annual fixture on your Christmas table, why not try another traditional favourite this year? Roast goose offers a moist meat par excellence, basting as it roasts in the layer of fat that naturally resides under the skin. What's not to love?
How to buy the best
1. Look for even-coloured, off-white skin with no signs of bruising.
2. Frozen goose is available all year round, though fresh British specimens are generally superior and are in season from the end of September until January.
3. There isn’t as much meat on a goose as you might expect when you look at the size of it, as the cavity-to-meat ratio is much higher than in a turkey or chicken. Bear in mind that even the biggest goose is unlikely to feed more than eight people generously.
How to prepare a whole goose
1. There are two large lobes of fat just at the opening of the cavity that need to be pulled out before roasting and can be rendered down for frying or roasting. To do this, melt them very slowly over a low heat, then cool, strain and keep in the fridge for up to six months.
2. Don’t forget that poultry may contain a plastic bag of giblets, which must be removed before cooking.
3. The neck and gizzards make great stock for gravy and the liver can be used to make pâté or pan-fried and enjoyed on toast.
4. Like duck, goose has a good layer of fat under the skin, which will come out of the bird during roasting. For this reason, it's best to pop the goose in the oven on a wire rack or on top of a trivet of vegetables to lift it off the base of the roasting tin. This will allow the fat to drain into the tray below; you can then reserve it for other recipes, such as our delicious roast potatoes.
How to roast a goose
Unlike turkey and chicken, which should be roasted until the meat is an opaque white, goose can be served slightly pink. However, the legs need cooking for a lot longer than the breast, so keep the temperature low. Although the breast meat will be well done by the time the legs are cooked through, the layer of fat will ensure that it’s nicely basted and won’t dry out.
Raymond Blanc says, 'In my opinion, it is impossible to roast a whole goose and end up with the legs and breast cooked perfectly – by the time the legs are tender, the breast is overdone. My solution is to take the legs off and slow cook them, then quick-roast the breast on top so it’s still nice and pink.'
Basic roast goose recipe
- 1 goose, about 5kg
- 2 onions, halved
- 1 orange, halved
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Remove all the fat from inside the bird and, using the point of a small knife or skewer, prick the skin all over, including under the wings and around the legs. Sit the goose in an empty sink and slowly pour over 2-4 kettlefuls of boiling water. The skin will tighten and become glossy. Leave to cool, then pat dry.
- Stuff the goose with the onion, orange and bay. Rub all over with the oil and season generously with salt. Sit the goose on a rack in a large roasting tin and tightly cover with a large piece of foil. Cook for 1 hr 30 mins.
- Remove from the oven, remove the foil and use oven gloves to lift the rack (and the goose) out of the roasting tin. Pour all the fat from the tin into a bowl and set aside. Sit the goose back in the tin, cover with foil, then roast for 1 hr. Remove the foil and return the bird to the oven for 15-20 mins to brown the skin. Transfer to a large board or platter to rest, uncovered, in a warmish place for 30 mins.
How to carve goose
1. The easiest way to get the most meat off the carcass is to remove the legs first.
2. Next, take the whole breasts off the bone and carve into thin slices.
3. Removing the wishbone when preparing the goose will also make it easier to serve – you can ask your butcher to do this for you.
How to store leftover goose meat
1. Cold leftover goose can be wrapped in tinfoil or popped in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for three months.
2. Leftover breast meat is best eaten cold, as it can become dry if reheated.
3. Brown meat is delicious reheated in a sauce or leftover gravy.
How to serve goose
Seasonally and traditionally, the rich meat of goose pairs well with apples. Try serving with a classic Bramley apple sauce or using cider in the gravy.
Enjoyed this? Try our favourite goose recipes:
Roast goose recipes
Golden stuffed goose
Classic roast goose with cider gravy
Roast goose with potato & stuffing
Gordon's Christmas roast goose
Christmas goose with root veg, sticky pears & bramble gravy
Honey-glazed spiced roast goose
What's your favourite way to cook goose? Let us know in the comments below...