Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Roast goose

Austrians eat a roast goose around November 11 (St. Martin´s Day) which is celebrated in Austria, France, Germany and many other European countries. Learn more about St. Martin´s Day in my article St. Martin and the goose roast here at Many Austrian restaurants feature Goose Week (Ganslwochen) or Martin-Goose (Martinigans).

Wash the goose, inside and out, then rub it also in and out with salt, pepper and marjoram; mix chunks of apples and oranges with marjoram, and stuff the goose with that.

Being a waterfowl, a goose is very fatty; at first, put it in a baking pan in the oven initially at high heat and later at moderate heat for about 3 hours, depending on the size of the bird. During the first half of the roasting process, remove the fat which the goose releases. Then start to pour some dark beer, and later the pan juices, over the roasting bird. The goose's breast will be cooked long before the legs. So by pouring over the juices you make sure the bird does not dry out.

Serves 6-10, depending on size of goose, Cooking time: About 4 hours or more.

  • 1 whole domestic goose (6lb - 10lb)
  • 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 orange
  • Salt, pepper and marjoram
  • Liquid to pour over the goose:
    dark beer, red wine, poultry broth,
    even water will do
How to cook roast goose:

1. Wash, season and stuff the bird
Wash the bird with lukewarm water in and outside and dry with paper towels, then place it in your roasting pan. Now preheat the oven to 430 F. or 220 C. degrees. Meanwhile cut the fruit into quite big chunks and mix them together with a bit of salt, pepper and marjoram. Fresh marjoram is best, but dried will do the job.

Remove giblets of the goose (heart, liver, stomach) and rub the goose outside and in with a mixture of salt, ground pepper and marjoram. Rub it in very well; this is all the seasoning we will apply. Then stuff the bird with the fruit mixture; to ensure this stuffing remains in place when turning bird over, you can sew the goose after stuffing it.

2. First with high heat
Unlike a chicken, a goose is not just bigger, but its meat also needs more time to cook. So I put it in the oven at high heat, around 220 C or 430 F. I leave it there for about one hour and reduce the heat to 140 C or 280 F after that. In this first hour, the goose will release a lot of pure goose fat. I also turn the bird over at halftime, this being the only turning I do. I do not add any liquids at first, only after removing most of the fat, which is great to have in the fridge. The goose gets a good color in this first hour.

3. Lower heat
I use a full bottle of dark beer to pour over the goose, from time to time. After that I use the pan juices to pour over the bird, to keep it moist. You can use chicken broth or just water, all will serve.

The goose is done when you can easily turn the leg bone of the bird. Or test by sticking the meat with a fork near the leg bone at the thickest point; remove the fork and observe the juices coming out. If they are clear like water, the meat is cooked.

4. The gravy
The goose is a fatty bird. When cooked, I remove it to a platter and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving. During this time, I pour all the remaining pan juices into a saucepan and heat. A lot of fat floats to the surface; skim if off with a spoon. Or, if you have one, use a fat separator. Either way you free the gravy of most of the fat. Boil the juices, add more chicken broth, some red wine and water, till you have the volume you want. Boil and thicken with a bit of cornstarch or flour, season again to taste and cook another 3-5 minutes before serving.

5. Side dishes
In Austria we love to have braised red cabbage with goose or a warm white cabbage salad with bacon. And before I forget, you guessed it, a dumpling—here, the potato dumpling suits best.

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