GooseThanksgiving means turkey.
But, what do you do if you or someone in your family doesn’t like turkey? There are any number of possible replacements for a roast turkey. Plenty of people cook a ham or roast some beef along with their turkey. A large number of us in the Bay Area have Dungeness Crab with our turkey, assuming it’s available. You could still go with something from the poultry family just a bit more exotic.

What about roasting a goose for Thanksgiving?

Geese, much like duck, have a large amount of fat on them which must be rendered out during cooking to make them edible. It is the fat content that makes the goose meat rich and flavorful but also a dish more suitable for holiday celebrations. Also, like duck, goose is a red meat. This means that the breasts are traditionally cooked until medium-rare, unlike turkey which needs to be cooked through and may lead to dry meat. Even better, the fat can be saved and used in other dishes like roasted potatoes.

Most butcher shops carry geese on a year-round basis. But, they will almost always only be available frozen—which is something to consider when deciding on cooking a goose. You can defrost it in the refrigerator or by using cold, running water.

When deciding what size goose to get you should allow for 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per person (unless you have big eaters). An 8-pound goose will serve 4 to 5 while a 12-pound goose should feed 6 to 8. You can always get two smaller geese and roast them together.

There are a number of ways to prepare goose for dinner. It can be roasted whole in a low oven over a long time. This produces a goose that is crisp and crackling-like and the legs become melt-in-your-mouth tender. But roasting the goose whole can also run the risk of over-cooked breast meat. Another approach would be to cook the different parts of the goose separately by roasting the legs and thighs slowly in the oven and sautéing the breasts quickly on the stove. The presentation of a whole bird may be lost but the meat itself will be perfectly cooked. Goose can also be wonderful when braised but again, if you’re going for the wow factor of bringing a goose to the table, this may not be your best option.

There are numerous recipes available on the internet for you to try if you decide to go with goose this Thanksgiving. All of them require rendering out the fat in some way shape or form. One of our favorites is this one adapted from Food & Wine Magazine…

Roasted Goose
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Yields 6 to 8 servings
This recipe requires you ben the day before roasting the goose. You separate the skin from the meat and then steam the goose. This technique is adapted from Chinese cooking and helps the bird to baste in its own fat and makes the skin extra-crispy.

One 12-pound goose (neck and giblets reserved) with visible fat removed
Freshly ground pepper
4 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon potato starch
2 tablespoons red wine

Separate the skin from the meat
Beginning at the neck end, work your fingers under the goose skin, snipping any fibers and sinews with kitchen scissors. Work your fingers as far down over the thighs as possible. Using a sharp knife, cut halfway through the wing and leg joints to help the bird cook evenly. Generously season the goose inside and out with salt and pepper.

Steam the goose
Set the goose on a rack in a heavy roasting pan with the breast side up. Add the neck, gizzard, heart and 4 cups of the water to the pan. Cover the goose with foil and seal the foil all around the edge of the pan. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Transfer the rack with the goose to a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate the goose uncovered overnight, until the skin is very dry, like parchment. Strain the pan juices and refrigerate.

Bring the goose to room temperature before roasting.

Roast the goose
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. In a bowl, mix the honey with the Tabasco and the remaining 1/4 cup of water. Return the rack to the pan and roast the goose for 1 hour, basting occasionally with the Tabasco mixture.

Carefully turn the goose breast side down. Roast for about another 30 minutes, basting occasionally. The goose is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 170°.

Turn off the oven and allow the oven to cool to 160°. Transfer the goose to a heatproof platter, breast side up. Return the goose to the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Pour off the fat in the roasting pan. Scrape the solidified fat off the refrigerated pan juices and refrigerate for another use. Add the juices to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Pour the juices into a small saucepan.

Make a slurry with 1 teaspoon of potato starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of red wine. Stir the potato starch slurry into the saucepan along with the juices and simmer. Continue stirring, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute). Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste and strain it into a gravy boat.

Carve the goose and pass the gravy at the table.

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