Roast Goose is a dark, gamey meat (but not overpowering like some game meats) and as a result it goes well with slightly bitter herbs like sage – chestnuts and apples are also delicious with a free-range Goose, therefore try making the recommended classic Sage And Onion Stuffing (force-meat) to serve with it. Roast Goose is traditionally served at Christmas when free-range birds from farms are at their best, and as we know from Charles Dickens, no Christmas dinner was complete without a Roast Goose …
‘A Christmas Carol’, by Charles Dickens, (1843): “Master Peter, and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession … Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course — and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot.
It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah! … There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration.”
Included with the Roast Goose recipe below is also a wonderful port and orange gravy; have it hissing hot in a little saucepan.
Roast Goose Recipe
Note: it is quite usual and traditional to roast a Goose (and present it to guests) with the wings and legs still attached, however you can, if you wish, present the bird without the wings – to do so cut them off cleanly before roasting.
Prepare the stuffing in advance if you are using it (this can be made the previous day).
For The Roast Goose
- 1 whole goose, (free-range) giblets removed and kept (about 5kg / 10lbs in weight)
- A few sage leaves, a few sprigs of thyme and a sprig of rosemary (leaves only)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
For The Roasting Tray (to make the gravy)
- the giblets from the goose, (particularly the neck)
- 2 onions, (peeled and chopped roughly)
- 3 carrots (peeled and chopped roughly)
- 1 orange, quartered, (remove any obvious pips)
- A few sprigs of rosemary
- A few sprigs of thyme
- A few leaves of sage
- A few bay leaves
- 3 tbsp of water
For The Stuffing
- See this Sage & Onion Stuffing Recipe
For The Roast Potatoes
- See this Roast Potatoes Recipe
For the Port And Orange Gravy
- See the recipe at the end of this post
Prepare The Goose And Roasting Tray
Allow the goose to reach room temperature for a couple of hours before you cook it (make sure the Goose is not frozen) remove any giblets or modern plastic bags etc. from inside the cavity. Wash the Goose inside and out under clean running water and leave to drain. Trim any excess fat from the cavity openings and neck – on a personal note I am quite strict in trimming the bird down as much as possible. Pat the goose dry with some paper kitchen towel. Lightly score the skin in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut through to the flesh.
Season the Goose all over with a ‘rub’: this is gently rubbing in ground herbs and spices with your hands, all over the lightly scored skin. To make the seasoning rub, use a pestle and mortar (or spice grinder) and add to it the sea salt, whole black peppercorns and the finely chopped fresh herb leaves of sage, rosemary and thyme – grind this mixture until a fine rub is made. There is no need to do anything else to the Goose: modern cooks putting on fancy glazes etc. spoil the wonderful natural taste of the crispy skin and juicy meat done this way.
Into the bottom of a large, heavy-based roasting tray add all the giblets, vegetables and herb ingredients intended for it. Then place a raised wire rack into the roasting tin over the vegetables for the Goose to sit on. If you do not have a wire rack sit the goose on the vegetables to raise it up.
Prepare The Stuffing In Advance:
See this recipe and make a wonderful Sage and Onion Stuffing, made with sausage-meat, chestnuts and apple.
To Roast The Goose:
Preheat the oven to 220C
Stuff the goose with the suggested stuffing (this is optional). Pack the stuffing in deep towards the neck, but leave the top of the cavity free, for hot air to circulate whilst roasting. Weigh the bird with the stuffing to calculate the length of the cooking time – see calculating cooking times below.
Then cover the legs and wings of the goose in foil – wrap them up tight to stop them burning. Place the fully prepared goose onto the raised wire rack in the roasting tin, (above the vegetables) and then cover it over in foil, or put the lid on the roasting tray.
1. Put the goose into the preheated oven at 220C.
2. After 45 minutes of roasting turn the oven down to 180C
Calculate Cooking Times
The goose will take roughly 25-30 minutes per 450g (1 lb) So a 5kg (10lb) Goose will take about 4 and half to 5 hours hours to cook. IMPORTANT: Do not forget to include the weight of the stuffing inside the goose if using it.
When roasting the goose check the fat level in the roasting tin occasionally, empty it carefully if it needs it. Note: even in a large roasting tray I will empty the fat out at least once, normally with an hour to go – which is perfect timing to make the Roast Potatoes with it.
An hour before the finish time remove the foil from over the Goose and from the legs and wings. This is to get the skin to crisp up and get a good colour.
Test The Goose Is Cooked
When the roast goose has had its allotted time remove it from the oven and test that the meat is cooked through. To do this you need to insert the point of a knife, (or skewer) into the meat, close to the joint where the legs join the body. Let the juice trickle onto the knife. If the juice runs clear (no blood) the goose is cooked. Test in several other places to make sure. A modern meat thermometer or probe is also excellent to use.
If it needs longer put it back in the oven, do not serve underdone roast meat. However, the meat should still be juicy and moist, so try not to over cook it either.
Lift the roast goose off the wire rack onto a serving plate and leave it to ‘rest’ in a warm place under some loosely tented foil, for at least 30 minutes: do not carve straight away.
Pour off most of the fat from the roasting tray, leaving any brown bits, vegetables, herbs and tasty juices etc. in the bottom to use as the starting point for gravy (see below).
When ready to serve, use a sharp carving knife and meat fork to carve slices of meat and the stuffing pulled out of the cavity. This can be done at the table in front of guests for Christmas and serve with roast potatoes cooked in the goose fat.
For The Port And Orange Gravy
- 2 tbsp Plain flour
- 60ml Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (demerara)
- 1 orange, juice and grated zest
- 500ml of fresh chicken stock
- 100ml Port (Ruby)
- 4 tbsp Redcurrant jelly
- tray of roasting juices, veg and herbs
Remove the roasted Goose to its carving plate and remove the raised rack. Drain off all the fat and all but 6 tbsp of the cooking juices from the goose roasting tin (remove the orange wedges, but you can leave any herbs, onion, carrot and giblets etc. in and mash them down into the gravy, they will be sieved out later).
Put the roasting tin directly over a medium heat on the cooker hob, and using the back of a fork or potato-masher to mash any remaining veg, herbs and giblets down into the juices. Stir in the plain flour and cook until the mixture is golden and the raw flour has ‘cooked out’.
Pour in the red wine vinegar and add the demerara sugar and cook for 1 min, stirring continuously and continue to mash everything down. Sieve this mixture from the roasting tray into a medium saucepan, squeeze out of the veg any remaining juice in the sieve.
Bring the strained gravy in the saucepan back up to a boil and gradually stir in the orange juice, the chicken stock, the port, the redcurrant jelly and any juices that have come out of the goose whilst it has been resting on its serving plate. Simmer the gravy and reduce the volume by a quarter or a half to thicken.
Pour the gravy once more through a fine sieve into a gravy boat or jug, garnish it with the grated orange zest.
Note on cooking and using the Goose Fat: Roast Goose is very fatty (which is the main reason for its decline in popularity over the 20th Century) and it needs to be roasted above the roasting tray bottom so the fat can drip down into it and away from the Goose.
If you have a small / shallow roasting tray you will need to check the fat level in the roasting tin several times as the goose cooks, to make sure it is not too full. If the tray fills you will need to carefully tip the fat from it, through a fine sieve, into a heat-proof bowl. The fat will then, over a ten minute period, start to separate, with any impurities settling to the bottom of the bowl.
However, the upside to releasing the Goose Fat is its usefulness as a roasting fat for vegetables – there is no better fat to Roast Potatoes with. The fat when clarified can be stored in the freezer in small pots for over 12 months – each pot can roast 1 set of vegetables through out the year.
Note on Stuffing a Goose: Most of the time we cook the stuffing separately in a tray, this reduces roasting times and allows hot air to circulte inside the bird, improving the reliability of roasting. However, for special occasions, like Mrs. Cratchet in ‘A Christmas Carol’, if you want to present the bird with stuffing cooked inside it remember that when calculating roasting times it is important to weigh the goose with the stuffing inside before roasting, to make sure you know how long to cook it for: this way you will get a perfect Roast Goose. Stuffing a bird like a turkey keeps the cavity area moist, but this is not that necessary with a goose.