How to cook a goose

Whether you're a seasoned lover of goose or this is a new avian adventure, read on to pick up our expert tips for buying, preparing, roasting and carving this beautiful bird

How to cook a goose

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? We're sure the family will be wowed (and don't worry, the turkeys probably won't mind either)...

How to buy the best

Look for even coloured, off-white skin with no signs of bruising. Frozen goose is available all year round.  Fresh British specimens are generally superior and are in season from the end of September up until January.

There isn’t as much meat on a goose as you’d expect when you look at the size of it, because the cavity-to-meat ratio is much higher than a turkey or chicken. Bear in mind that even the biggest goose is unlikely to feed more than 8 people generously. 

How to prepare a whole goose

There are two large lobes of fat just at the opening of the cavity which 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 6 months.

Don’t forget that poultry may contain a plastic bag of giblets, which must be removed before cooking. 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.

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 it 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, which you can reserve for other recipes, such as 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 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.'

Try Raymond’s roast goose recipe.

How to carve and serve

The easiest way to get the most meat off the carcass is to remove the legs first, then take the whole breasts off the bone and carve into thin slices. 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

Cold leftover goose that is wrapped in tinfoil or popped in an airtight container can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Leftover breast meat is ideal eaten cold, as it can become dry if reheated. 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, so try serving with a classic Bramley apple sauce or using cider in the gravy. Still after some inspiration? Try one of our favourite 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

What's your favourite way to cook goose? Let us know in the comments below...

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Meic
23rd Dec, 2015
Meic’s way of cooking goose 9-10lb goose 1 large onion 1 carrot 1 head of garlic Chicken stock or stock cube Bay leaves One bottle of gooseberry wine you made the previous June at 4lb fruit per gallon (failing that, a gooseberryish dry white – eg NZ Cloudy Bay Sauvignon is fine) One bottle of blackberry wine you made the previous August at 7lb fruit per gallon (failing that a large wineglass of Port) (okay, okay, counsel of perfection, but I start Xmas dinner at midsummer!) Potatoes. Fruit and nut stuffing: one cooking apple (Bramley), a few dried apricots, some chopped almonds, the liver of the goose, a few chestnuts, a few gooseberries in the unlikely event you have any. Chop the ingredients, mix together, and spoon in loose at one end of the cavity. Sage and onion: handful of chopped fresh sage (or tablespoonful of dried rubbed sage), one chopped or grated onion, two large slices of bread turned into crumbs (lightly toasted and put through an electric coffee grinder is the easiest way), one or more cloves of garlic to taste, one beaten egg, a good flavouring of white pepper). Mix all together into a firm ball and insert in the other end of the cavity. There’s not as much meat on a goose as the weight suggests, but the meat is quite rich so you do don’t need portions as large as for turkey. A 9-10 lb goose feeds six people comfortably, with some pickings and soup or stock off the carcase. (Supermarket packaging tends to say “feeds 4” on this size- for gluttons only!). The knack with goose is to get the skin slightly crisp, most of the fat out, and not to let the meat on top of the leg get overcooked and fibrous or the breast s get dry. Many published recipes recommend 20-25 minutes + 20 minutes per pound. This is overkill. In my experience 15-20 minutes per pound + 15 minutes is right for the temperatures I use in a fan oven. There’s a large cavity in a goose, and I like to use two stuffings, fruit and nut and sage and onion. Season the breast and legs with salt. Prick the underside and loose skin of the goose to help the fat out, but don’t prick the breasts or the legs, as that tends to make the meat go dry. There’s a lot of fat on a goose, and you don’t want the bird sitting in it while it cooks. Goose fat is wonderful, and lasts for ages (we’re still using fat from our Xmas goose last year), and makes the best roast potatoes. In dietary terms it’s “good” fat, with lots of High Density Lipids. Put the bird on a rack above the roasting pan, and start it off breast downwards. Make stock from the goose giblets, half the white wine, onion, carrot, bay leaves. If it reduces too far top up occasionally with water. Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes, drain, allow to cool naturally (so the surface moisture evaporates), and rough up the surfaces with a fork. Even better, steam them or microwave the potatoes before peeling, then peel them while hot, as that preserves the vitamin C and potassium that get dissolved in boiling water. Put them in a separate roasting pan with some of the goose fat, spooning the fat over them or rolling them in it. Heat the oven to 220oC. Put in the goose. After 20 minutes, turn the temperature down to about 170oC. Every 20-30 minutes pour off the fat (or you may risk a flood). Half way through the cooking time turn the bird breast side up. 30 minutes before the end of cooking time turn the oven up to 220oC, move the bird to the bottom of the oven , and add the rest of the white wine and the port to the roasting pan and add the head of garlic (separated into cloves, but still in the paper), and put in the potatoes at the top of the oven. At the scheduled end of cooking time remove the goose and garlic and let it rest for 15 minutes while the potatoes finish. Pour what you can of the remaining fat off the cooking juices (you won’t get it all, but what’s left will be just right for the gravy). Pour the stock into the roasting pan, let it deglaze and bubble, return to the saucepan, and thicken to taste. You should now have a very richly flavoured gravy. Serve with a couple of garlic cloves each and your choice of vegetable. Enjoy.