Goose – it was good enough for Tiny Tim

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2011

I have read several articles lately about cooking a goose for Christmas and decided this was the year for me. I have never eaten or cooked a goose, so why not give it a try? A goose is an expensive item, as I have priced one at Whole Foods for $85 for a 12-pound goose. So I do not want to mess it up!

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, on the Cratchit family’s holiday table are potatoes, gravy, applesauce and a pudding “like a speckled cannon-ball” blazing with ignited brandy, but at the center of the meal, is a glorious goose. Dickens writes that the Cratchits rushed to take their places at the table with their spoons crammed in their mouths, “less they should skriek for goose before their turn came to be helped.” Mr. Crarchit said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Mrs. Cratchit saw one small bone left upon the dish, yet everyone had had enough. These are such great lines from this famous story.

Goose has played an exalted role in food history. Among French and German Jewish communities, beginning in the early Middle Ages, geese were fattened through the autumn and butchered around the time of Hanukkah, before the coming of winter. The Pilgrims brought the domesticated goose to this country, where it was a popular holiday dish until the 19th century, when it was gradually supplanted by the turkey, a bird now farmed on an industrial scale as the goose has never been.

I keep reading that the goose is hard to cook and that it is greasy. The goose fat can be used for frying potatoes, root vegetables, peppers, onions, eggs and even making goose liver terrines. I plan on putting the goose fat to work for me. Use the leftover goose to make stock for soups.

When I bring to the table my “beautiful roasted goose,” I would like to remember Tiny Tim’s grateful voice, “God bless us, everyone.”

This goose recipe is from executive chef Brian Alberg of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass.


Christmas Goose with Gravy and Roasted Vegetables

Serves 8

For the Goose and Gravy:

1 12-pound goose, wing tips, neck, and giblets reserved

Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 lemon, halved

8 sprigs thyme

4 sprigs sage

8 cups chicken stock

2 ribs celery, roughly chopped

2 small yellow onions, chopped

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz. baby carrots, peeled

1 lb. baby beets, peeled

1 lb. small potatoes, halved

6 cipolline onions, peeled

2 large parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into 1” slices

1 celery root, peeled, halved, and cut into 1” slices

1 head garlic, cloves peeled

1 sprig rosemary

¼ cup flour

Roast the goose. Prick skin all over with a fork; season with salt and pepper; squeeze lemon juice over the skin. Place spent lemon haves in cavity along with three sprigs each thyme and sage. Place goose on a rack in the roasting pan; heat pan on stove over high heat. Add stock; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover with foil, and steam (to render goose fat) for one hour. Discard lemon and herbs. Heat oven to 325-degrees. Uncover goose; remove it with rack. Pour pan liquid into a measuring cup; let sit until fat rises to top. Skim off fat; reserve for another use. Add 2 cups pan liquid to roasting pan along with celery, onion and large carrot; reserve remaining pan liquid. Return goose and rack to pan. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place goose breast side down; cover with foil. Roast for one hour.

Begin the gravy: Heat butter in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add wing tips, neck, giblets, and two sprigs thyme; cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Add reserved pan liquid; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until reduced by half, about an hour, Strain goose stock; set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 475-degrees. Uncover goose; turn breast side up. Roast until golden, about 70 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the vegetables: Toss remaining thyme and sage, oil, carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, parsnips, celery root, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper on two baking sheets. Roast, stirring, until golden brown, about 45 minutes; keep warm.

Transfer goose to a cutting board; let rest for 15 minutes. Strain pan liquid into a measuring cup; let sit until fat rises to the top. Skim off fat (about ¼ cup), and return to pan with the celery, onion, and carrot. Heat over medium-high heat; brown vegetables for eight minutes. Add flour; cook for four minutes. Add strained pan juices and goose stock; boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about three minutes. Strain gravy; season with salt and pepper. Serve goose with gravy and roasted vegetables.

Merry Christmas!