For me, enjoying a nice Christmas goose on the baby Jesus’ big day has always been left to the mythic “Winter Wonderland” pile of my youth. I just assumed such holiday merriment was meant only for blessed little rosy-cheeked children in Ye Olde England. This pile also included such baffling items as figgy freaking pudding and donning my gay apparel (which I do get now, girl puhl-eazze). As far as I ever knew, mean ol’ geese were only ever good for guarding the yard from various varmints and thieves.
So when one of my dearest foodie friends/GM asked me if I wanted to participate in Christmas dinner with him this last year, I thought it was about time to demystify, debunk and breakdown the beast. I also knew the only way I was really going to fully dispel my warped and ill-conceived ideas about the Christmas Goose was to approach it BIG MAMA* style.
The first thing I decided was that I wanted the end result to be as close to a Peking Duck as possible with (hopefully) some extra love thrown in. I mostly referred to this recipe, but wish I had done a little more research before I dove in.
The first step was to remove the innards and neck, rinse, drain and towel dry the bird. After that I removed the extra globs of fat (attached mostly near the inner thighs), trimmed more extra fat from the thigh and neck areas and trimmed off the wings at the second joints. Next, I made incisions at the leg joints. After that was the really fun part—separating the skin from the meat:
After one very greasy and intimate session with the bird, I took about ¼ c kosher salt mixed with ½ tsp ground black pepper and liberally coated the beast inside and out. Next, I placed the bird inside a pan with a roasting rack insert, poured about 5 cups water on bottom of pan and covered with foil. After that I set the pan over a a couple burners and steamed over a low flame for an hour.
After steaming I moved the goose to another pan and set it inside the refrigerator uncovered overnight to dry out the skin. Then I poured the liquid from the pan into containers to chill in order to separate the fat from the goose stock. I tossed out the neck, gizzards, etc.
The next day I moved the goose back onto a pan with a roasting rack and basted it liberally with a mixture of 1 C Molasses, ¼ C Water, 2 TB Dijon Mustard and 2 TB Coarse Mustard. I then placed it inside of a pre-heated 350* oven for 1 hour basting every 20 minutes.
After an hour I carefully turned the bird over with two sets of tongs placing it breast side down and basted its backside liberally with the molasses mixture. The bird went back in for another 40 minutes at which point the temperature in the inner thigh was 170*. Next I moved the bird onto a serving platter to rest for 30 minutes breast side up before carving her up.
Final notes: Next time, and there will be a next time because the goose was absolutely delicious, I would do everything pretty much the same except for a few things:
- I regret making incisions at the leg joints as instructed in the recipe. It wasn’t necessary and ruined the presentation.
- I’ll dry the goose for an entire day and find a place to hang it up somewhere to insure crispy skin all around and not just the breast side.
- I’ll roast it upright (also to get crispy skin all around) on one of these numbers.
*Big Mama is a handle I picked up back in the day while cooking in N.O. Here are three good things to know about Big Mama as she may appear from time to time:
1. While she is completely aware of the fact that she is almost always out of her realm, she still don’t take no sh*t. Being stupidly fearless in the kitchen has really come in handy most of the time.
2. While she is big in spirit and larger than life in so many ways, she is actually not yo’ Mama. You wish.
3. She will almost always out cook yo’ Mama.
All photos taken by Libby Truesdell