Serving goose for Christmas should not be intimidating

Home cooks are often stumped when it comes to cooking goose. But really, it’s just a large duck. Goose lends itself well to any recipe using chicken, duck or turkey. The breast is best cooked medium rare to keep the meat tender. Legs and wings are tougher and benefit from a low and slow cooking method.

A good selection of recipes for wild goose is on a website called Hunter Angler Gardener Cook by Hank Shaw of Sacramento, California. He also has a cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose.

Western Producer readers Justin and Julie Fry from Swift Current, Sask., love wild goose.

“The first time we had Christmas goose was six years ago, the day after being discharged from the hospital after I gave birth to our newborn son. We had Christmas goose and goose fat baby potatoes.”

Their favourite is a speckle belly goose.

Greater Canada geese are usually a bit tougher than the uncommon lesser Canada goose, which are also known as cackling geese. And Justin, the cook in the family, says to always save the fat. He usually uses it to make nice, crispy oven-roasted baby potatoes.

Roast Goose with Squash and Lingonberries

Prepare the goose by trimming excess fat from the bird and reserve for another use. With a sharp knife, lightly score the breast and leg skin in a crosshatch pattern. This helps to render the fat more quickly during roasting.

  • 1 whole goose, about 10 pounds
  • coarse salt
  • 1 pinch crushed juniper berries
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1 c. lingonberries, also called lowbush cranberries 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. Dijon style mustard 5 mL

Rinse and dry the goose with paper towels. Rub it inside and out with salt and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least six hours or overnight.

Pat dry with paper towels, set it on a rack, and allow it to come to room temperature, about an hour. Brush off excess salt and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C).

Season the goose with the ground juniper.

Place goose on a rack in a deep roasting pan and roast for about an hour.

Baste the bird with the pan juices once or twice. Pour off the fat through a sieve into a large heatproof bowl and reserve it for later use.

Reduce heat to 275 F (140 C).

After about an hour, remove the goose from the oven and add the cubed squash and lingonberries to the pan.

In a small dish, whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar and mustard to make a glaze and brush the goose with the glaze.

Return goose to the oven. Continue roasting until a thermometer registers 165 F (73 C) at the centre of the breast, about another hour.

Total roasting time is about three hours. Don’t worry if it is longer. The low and slow cooking will ensure tender meat.

When the goose is done, place it on a board and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Serve the goose with the squash and lingonberries drizzled with the pan juices.

Five Spice Christmas Roast Goose

Prepare and cook goose as in the previous recipe.

  • 10 lb. fresh goose 5 kg
  • 4 lemons
  • 3 limes
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder 5 mL
  • small handful each of parsley sprigs, thyme and sage, plus extra for garnishing

Grate the zest from the lemons and limes. Mix with two teaspoons (10 mL) fine sea salt, Chinese five-spice powder and pepper, to taste.

Season the cavity of the goose generously with salt, then rub the citrus mix well into the skin and sprinkle some inside the cavity.

Stuff the zested fruit and a small handful of parsley, thyme and sage sprigs inside the bird and set aside for at least 15 minutes.

Goose and Pear Salad with Candied Pecans

  • salad greens
  • cooked goose, sliced
  • fresh pears, sliced
  • pecans
  • maple syrup
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • Dijon style mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make vinaigrette by whisking the lemon juice with mustard, salt and pepper. While whisking drizzle in oil.

Set aside. Use one part lemon juice to two parts oil.

Candy pecans in maple syrup on the stovetop in a heavy bottomed pan.

Toss salad greens with the lemon vinaigrette.

Arrange on a plate.

Top with sliced duck, sliced pears and pecans.

Christmas Goose Biryani

Even if you don’t have all the spices on hand, use what you have and make this. It’s delicious and a great way to use not only leftover goose, but also turkey this Christmas.

  • 1 lb. leftover goose shredded 500 g
  • 1 white onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. goose fat 60 mL
  • 3 tbsp. goose fat 45 mL
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds 5 mL
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 in. cinnamon stick broken 5 cm
  • 1 white onion thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic pounded to a paste
  • 2 in. peeled ginger pounded to a paste
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 tsp. dried red chili 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. turmeric 5 mL
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander 15 mL
  • 1 c. water 250 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground fennel 5 mL
  • 3 tbsp. Greek style yogurt 45 mL
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. garam masala 5 mL
  • 2 tbsp. goose fat 30 mL
  • generous pinch of saffron infused in 2 tbsp. of warm milk 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped mint 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro 15 mL
  • red onion, lime wedges, pomegranate to garnish

For the rice

  • 1 lb. basmati rice washed & drained 500 g
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 4 c. water 1 L
  • salt to taste

Heat two tablespoons (30 mL) goose fat in a frying pan and fry the onion over medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir well making sure it evenly colours. Fry until golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

To cook the biryani, heat three tablespoons (45 mL) goose fat in a heavy bottomed pan and add cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves. Sauté for a minute over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion. Sauté 12 to 15 minutes until onion softens and turns light brown.

Add garlic and ginger paste and sauté, stirring well, for a minute. Add tomato puree and sauté for two minutes. Stir well. Add dried chili, turmeric, ground coriander and fennel and cook for a further minute, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Add the water, scraping up the bottom of the pan. Simmer on low heat for two minutes.

Add yogurt a little at a time and stir well, letting it cook through for six to seven minutes. Season to taste with salt and add the shredded goose. Cover with a lid and let it warm through for two minutes. Turn off the heat and add the garam masala, stir and set aside.

Preheat oven to (180 C). Bring a large saucepan with a litre of water to a boil. Add rice, bay leaf, cardamom pods and salt. Bring to a boil and cook the rice for about seven minutes until the rice grain has a slight bite to it. Drain the rice and set aside.

Brush the base of a deep casserole dish with goose fat. Add half of the goose curry followed by half the rice. Top with a sprinkle of saffron milk, half the mint and coriander and handful of fried onions.

Repeat with another layer of the remaining goose curry, then the rice topped again with saffron, mint, coriander, fried onion and leftover goose fat.

Cover the dish with parchment paper and a tight fitting lid.

Place dish in oven for a final cooking time of 25 minutes. Turn oven off and rest the biryani in the oven for 15 minutes.

Once done take the lid off and the aromas will fill the kitchen.

Fork the rice gently and place on a serving dish garnish with cilantro and serve warm with onion rings, pomegranate and lemon wedges. Serve with raita.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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