30 December 2014

Roast goose

Goose has been a firm Christmas dinner favourite in the Turpin household since I was a child. We had occasional flirtations with capons and venison, and on one occasion turkey, but time and again we returned to the goose. Roast goose has a great flavour, and provides the appropriate sense of occasion for a Christmas dinner. It has a dark red meat, and tastes a bit like a cross between duck and beef. Goose was a popular Christmas roast in the UK during Victorian times, but during the twentieth century was overtaken by turkey. It has seen something of a return to popularity in recent years.

I was recently asked how to roast a goose, so here, after some consultation with my father who has been roasting geese for years, is our method. Unlike many other red meats, goose is best eaten well-done, and can be roasted long and slow. Farmed geese have huge fat reserves, which keep the bird moist as it roasts. The long roast renders the fat, which can be used for roasting potatoes and all sorts of other things. A medium-sized goose, about 4kg, should feed up to six people, and will take approximately 4 hours to cook. The geese at your local butcher's will almost certainly be farmed birds. It is possible to buy wild geese, which are in season between 1 September and late February, but they are fairly rare. I tried one once roasted and, lacking the fat of a farmed bird, found it rather on the dry side. So for roasting I suggest sticking to farmed birds. Many geese come with giblets, which can be used to make a stock for the gravy.


1 goose
1 lemon, zested
1 small bunch of thyme
vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
4-5 juniper berries 

For the stock:
the giblets from one goose
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 bay leaf
4-5 whole peppercorns
3-4 juniper berries

For the gravy:

approx 500ml goose stock made with the giblets, or good quality chicken stock 
1 large glass red wine
1 slug brandy
salt and pepper to taste

To make the stock, place the giblets in a medium-sized pan, along with the vegetables, bay leaf, peppercorns and juniper berries. The onion should be trimmed and halved. Add approximately 1 litre of water, and slowly bring to the boil. As the stock starts to bubble, skim off any impurities that come to the surface. Once the stock comes to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour and a half.

Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Remove any string if the goose has been trussed together. Reach inside the cavity where you should find two lobes of fat. These can be removed and rendered in a saucepan for cooking at a later date. (Sometimes the butcher will have removed the fat already).

There is a thick layer of fat underneath the goose's skin, which needs to be rendered down during the cooking process to leave a crispy skin. Prick the skin all over with a fork. Heat a metal roasting pan on the hob, and lightly brown the bird.

Remove the thyme leaves from the stalks, and mix with the lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Rub a little vegetable oil into the goose's skin, then the zest, thyme etc. The oil will help render the goose fat. Halve the zested lemon, and place along with the remains of the thyme, the juniper berries and some salt and pepper in the cavity.

Place the goose on a rack in a large oven tray. As the goose roasts its fat will melt. The tray should be large enough to catch the fat, otherwise it will drip into the bottom of the oven and smoke - which will both taint the goose meat and cause a mess in the oven.

Pop the goose in the oven, and reduce the temperature down to 170C/340F. The goose will need to spend about 30 minutes in the oven for every 500g. Baste the bird every half an hour or so. When you do so, pour off any excess fat in the pan. Some of the fat can be used to roast your potatoes (potatoes roasted in goose fat are delicious, and make a fine accompaniment to roast goose).

There is usually no need to cover the goose with foil while roasting, but if the skin starts to go beyond a deep golden brown, cover the breasts lightly with foil.

After the goose has been in the oven for the appropriate time using the 30 mins per 500g formula, remove it from the oven. If you have a probe thermometer, check the temperature where there is a lot of meat between the breast and the leg. The internal temperature should be at about 80C/175F. Lightly cover the goose with foil, and allow to rest for approximately half an hour. This allows the meat to relax and the juices to settle in the meat.

Pour any excess fat out of the pan. Deglaze the roasting pan on the hob over a medium flame with a large glass of red wine and a good slug of brandy. Allow the alcohol to bubble off, and then pour in a generous amount of stock (preferably the goose stock made with the giblets, otherwise chicken stock will do). Stir occasionally until the gravy starts to thicken. Season to taste.

Allow the fat that you poured out of the roasting pan to cool a little, then pour through a muslin-lined strainer to remove any impurities. The fat can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to six months.

To carve: Geese have squarish bodies, similar to ducks. The best way to carve them is to remove the breast whole, and cut slices down through the breast.


  1. Hurrah, as they say, for the goose! That recipe sounds great - I'm almost brave enough to give cooking a goose a try some year.

  2. Great post and thanks for all the peripheral information - our oven thanks you! We will definitely be giving this a go in early 2015.

    1. Thanks Paul and Siobhan. Good luck with cooking your goose!