The Queen of Cuisine’s goose recipe is adapted from the one Julia Child presented in her landmark book “The Way to Cook.” It involves steaming the goose for about an hour on tip of the stove. This leaves you with a lot of rendered goose fat which you can freeze and use later to fry perfect potatoes. Then you braise the bird in a covered roasting pan for an hour or so more, which renders out more fat. Finally you crisp and brown the skin in an uncovered pan. Voila! The goose is tender and moist, the grease is in your freezer and not in the bird, and the skin beats the pants off any crispy salty snack you’ve ever tasted.
Use an unfrozen goose whenever you can lay your hands on one. Recently vacuum-packed and flash-frozen geese are available at White House Meats on Bayview Avenue in Toronto. Avoid birds that have been frozen for more than a couple of months.
Start by pulling all the loose fat out of the cavity at the rear of the goose. At your convenience you can boil down that fat with centimetre-square bits of trimmed skin with a little water until all you’ve got left are golden brown goosie puffs. With some salt and fresh-ground pepper, they’re a lovely food. Research has suggested that bird fat is metabolized in humans as if it were a vegetable fat. If true, these little bad boys are actually good for you.
Next, rub the goose inside and out with lemon juice and salt the cavity lightly. Tie the legs together. (Julia recommends further trimming and skewering, but Her Majesty has deemed this activity unnecessary.) There are all sorts of recipes for stuffing, but it’s not essential to stuff. It’s enough to season the cavity with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of thyme or sage. You could choose to place some sautéed carrots and onion into the cavity for aromatic flavours. The possibilities are endless.
To ensure efficient fat drainage and avoid the notorious “greasy goose” you’ve doubtless heard about, inflict numerous little knife wounds to the skin of the goose without penetrating the meat. Pay special attention to the little fat pads under its wings. Place the goose breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Add an inch or two of water and bring it to a boil on top of the stove. Cover the pan tightly. Reduce the heat and steam the bird for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on its size). Take an occasional look at the water level and add more if too much has evaporated. The goose is steamed when the legs feel almost tender to the pressure of your fingers.
Remove the steamed goose from the pan and let it cool for about twenty minutes. Pour the liquid out of the pan. It should give you another few cups of pure goose fat. Place a double sheet of foil over the rack and lay in the goose breast-side down. Arrange the chopped vegetables in the pan around the goose and pour in a cup of wine or goose-steaming liquid. Cover tightly and braise for 60 to 90 minutes (again depending on size). Take the occasional peek to see if you need more liquid and to baste the goose.
Finally, turn the goose breast-up, baste it with pan juices and brown it for 30 minutes. If it’s already brown cover the pan loosely. If it needs crisping up brown it uncovered.
I love this goose with a sweet sauce like traditional cranberry or lingonberry. The dark, tender flavourful meet is like delicious well-done birdie beef filet. It’s perfect with aged red Burgundy, southern Rhônes, or any full flavourful red you favour.