Ah, the Christmas goose – a glistening golden brown bird brimming with roasted chestnuts, flanked by colorful winter fruits on a silver platter. If this is your vision of a Christmas goose, you’ll need to stop by the meat market and purchase a big, fat farm-raised bird. Wild geese don’t look or taste like their domestic cousins. The wild meat is darker and much leaner. It still tastes great, but only if it has been handled with a little care and consideration.
Let’s start by removing the legs at the body. We’re going to cook those at least two hours longer than the body. But first, the brine. Place the goose parts in a heavyweight bag, a trash compactor bag is ideal. Combine 1 gallon water with 1 cup kosher salt (or 3/4 cup table salt) and 1 cup brown sugar. Pour the brine over the goose, secure the bag so that the brine covers the goose and place the bag into a container, just in case it leaks. Refrigerate of place into a cooler loaded with ice for 12 – 24 hours. Remove the goose, rinse and pat dry. The brining process replaces goose blood with a more flavorful brine.
Rub the legs with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, place them in a roasting pan and throw in some chopped celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Add about an inch of chicken broth and/or dry white wine to almost cover the legs. Cover with foil and place in a preheated 425 degree oven for one hour. Then, flip them over, replace cover and cook for another hour. Check them for doneness. The meat should start to pull away from the bone with minimal effort. If not, stick them back in the oven, making sure that there’s still about an inch or so of liquid in the pan, and keep cooking until tender. When ready, carefully remove the legs from the pan and set aside. Discard the stuff left in the pan.
Repeat the process for the body. Start by rubbing with olive oil, you know, just like the legs. Place them in a roasting pan, BREAST SIDE DOWN, with fresh chopped celery, etc. and add about one to two inches of chicken stock and/or dry white wine. Cut a few wedges from an apple and place under the breasts to keep it from falling over onto its side in the pan. Cover with foil or lid and place in a preheated 325 degree oven for about twenty-five minutes or, and this is really important, the internal temperature of the breast is 130 degrees. After about fifteen minutes into the cooking, add the cooked legs to the pan and replace foil or lid. When done (130 degrees in the center of the breast), remove the goose parts and let stand for a few minutes.
Now, it’s gravy time. Pour the contents of the pan through a colander and into a saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Add some sliced mushrooms, herbs, finely diced vegetables, etc. if you like. Thicken gravy with a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and cold water. Add a little at a time while stirring until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, remove the whole breast halves from the carcass. Slice and arrange on a platter with the legs. Garnish with apples and oranges. Serve with gravy on the side.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays from all of us at Sportsman Channel!!