Pssssst, hey you! Your goose is cooked!
Wait. Make that geese.
I’ve been waiting for weeks to be able to say that. (It’s the little things. Such a dork, I know.)
This is my first experience cooking goose. I’m super excited about how they came out. Let me tell you all about it and show you how to make a goose at home.
How I got my geese
So, a while ago, I hooked up with Connie Cunningham from Sassafras Valley Farm on Facebook.
Now, Connie is one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met…and she’s definitely the only goose farmer I know. Here’s a peek at her in action on her family-run farm, which is the only commercial goose farm in Missouri. I have a ton of respect for how these guys run their operation. Check it out.
Connie raises ducks and geese on her farm from hatching to maturity, where they waddle around free range in natural pastures (that means no chemicals, pesticides, or hormones). A small pack of Great Pyrenees helps keep their flocks safe from predators. If I were a goose, I’d want to live there.
They also do the whole sustainable agriculture thing, and minimize their reliance on outside food sources through a combination of “Low Impact Sustainable Agriculture” practices, and scientific natural pasture planting and rotation processes.
You can tell that these folks really care for their animals and raise them humanely—something that can’t be said of all producers. I’m honestly really happy to help support a small American farm like this. They’re nice people and their birds are delicious.
So anyways, I told Connie that while I’ve made duck a bunch of times, I had never cooked a goose. She was kind enough to offer to send me a couple on the house to test out and share with you guys. (Thank you SO much!)
Someone always gives me grief when I do a post like this, so please note that Connie didn’t pay me for this editorial. She just sent me the geese to sample. I never promise to promote anything unless I can get behind it 100%. These geese, I definitely can.
Connie was also nice enough to donate one for a giveaway for you guys. Watch for a separate post later this week with details.
Fast forward a few months.
Two fresh geese and one fully cooked smoked goose landed on my doorstep in style. (Early Christmas at The Mouse House, right? Wowee.)
I’ve never actually mail ordered any kind of raw meat or poultry before. I know there are a lot of people who swear by it, but something has always sketched me out about the idea.
I stand 100% corrected. These were the freshest, most well packed birds I’ve ever seen. I’d order from them again in a heartbeat.
How to thaw a frozen goose
My geese arrived packed in a cooler-type box, well wrapped in silver insulation. Connie told me that the geese would take 2-3 full days in the fridge to thaw. I made the mistake of leaving them in this insulation. After 3 days in the fridge, they were still rock solid.
So, I took them out of the insulated wrapping and stuck them in my biggest bowl in the fridge. After another 3 days, they were completely thawed.
Order a goose from Sassafras Valley Farm
Click here to order your own goose from Connie, or call 866-684-2188. Tell her The Hungry Mouse sent you (because it’s funny to say, not because I get a kickback). You won’t be sorry.
They’re not necessarily inexpensive, but you get what you pay for, and they’re absolutely delicious. I checked around, and their prices were actually on par with local butchers and Whole Foods in our area.
If you don’t feel like roasting one yourself, get a smoked goose. The smoked geese are fully cooked, so you just need to get a little creative with serving. That said, they’re pretty rich for a main course. I’d do more of a side or app with it. More on that at the end of this post.
Sassafras Valley Farm smoked goose, fully cooked
Two goose recipes: Choose your own rub
Connie and I went back and forth about recipes for a while.
In the end, I settled on two dry rubs: A five-spice rub and a fresh ginger/garlic rub.
Both include citrus, which helps to cut the richness of the goose fat. For the five-spice, I largely used Gordon Ramsey’s recipe, minus the honey and fresh thyme. You either love Ramsey (we do) or hate him, but you can’t deny that the man can cook. Take a peek:
This post has both recipes. Considering that this was my first time cooking geese, I’m really happy with how both turned out.
If you’d like to make a glazed goose, follow this recipe, but use the glaze from my duck post about 20 minutes from the end of cooking time. That will give you a bird that looks more like this:
7 tips for roasting a goose
Geese let out a TON of fat when you cook them. From my two geese, I got more than 32 oz. of fat. Just like with a roast duck, you can save that fat in the fridge for all sorts of delicious shenanigans later on. (Hello, goose fat hash browns!)
- When you roast a goose, you want to keep a good eye on it. While all that fat makes for succulent treats later on, it means you need to be safe when you roast. Any kind of grease fire (or grease burn) is bad.
- Use a deep roasting pan to minimize splatter.
- Score the skin to help release fat. You want to cut through the fat layer, but not cut so deeply that you hit the meat. (I did this in a few places, you’ll see below. It’s just fine, but makes for a messier presentation.)
- Keep your goose as far away from the heating element in your oven as you can or else it can start to smoke. For me, this meant putting the pan in the lower third of my oven, since I have a heating element on top. Do what works for your oven.
- Don’t overcook your goose! (It’ll taste like liver!). As Connie put it: “There is nothing nice about an overcooked goose. So beware.” Aim for 7-10 degrees under 165 degrees, taking the temps in the thickest parts of the thigh and breast. Tent with foil when it comes out and it will finish cooking in the pan.
- Leave the bird untrussed as it roasts to help the legs and breast cook evenly.
- Cover the wingtips and drumstick ends with foil if they start to burn.
What to do if your goose starts to smoke in the oven
If your goose starts to smoke, don’t freak out.
First, make sure it’s not dripping over the edge of the pan in any way. If it’s not, your bird is probably just too close to the heating element.
Yank it out of the oven, move your rack down a notch or two, stick your goose back in, and get back to business. Like I said, keep an eye on it.
Did you know?
Get your fill of goose facts from the USDA here. A few interesting things to note:
- Hormones aren’t allowed in the production of ducks or geese in the U.S.
- The thick layer of fat underneath a goose’s skin helps to keep it buoyant and warm as it swims.
- Goose fat is actually pretty high in ‘heart healthy’ monounsaturated fats, which may help lower cholesterol.
How many people will a goose feed?
Because goose is really rich, people generally eat less of it. Connie recommends an 8-9 lb. goose for 5-7 people at a holiday meal that includes a lot of sides. Use your judgment.
The short version of the recipe goes like this
Roasting an 8-9 lb. goose will take about 2 1/2 hours to just under 3 hours, including resting time, depending on your bird and your particular oven.
1. Prep your goose (score the skin + rub it with the spices).
2. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
3. Prick the skin. Drop the heat to 350. Roast for 40 minutes.
4. Prick the skin. Flip the goose breast-side down. Roast for 30 minutes.
5. Prick the skin. Flip the goose breast-side up. Roast for 30 – 50 minutes, depending on the size of your bird.
6. When the goose registers 155 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, yank it out of the oven.
7. Tent it with foil and let it sit on the counter for another 30 minutes, until it reaches 165 degrees.
Roast Goose, Two Ways
1 8-9 lb. fresh goose
One of the rubs below
Rub #1: Five-Spice Citrus
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 lemons, fruit and zest
3 limes, fruit and zest
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
4-5 sprigs fresh parsley
4-5 leaves fresh sage
Rub #2: Ginger + Garlic
5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 large lemon
1. Prep the goose
Grab your deepest roasting pan and slap a rack in it. This is my grandmother’s ancient roasting pan. It’s heavy and serious, and always gets the job done. If it were a little larger, I could make a fort in it. (The lid has one of those awesome little steam vents that you almost never see any more. You know the kind I mean?)
OK, so, no matter which rub you use, you’ll prep the bird the same way.
Unwrap your goose. Rinse him and dry him well.
My Sassafras Valley birds came with wrapping on the ends of the drumsticks and the wings. Remove the wrap and discard.
Set the innards aside for another use. Both my birds came with a good sized neck, heart, and liver. The neck and heart, I’ll probably roast and use for stock. For an out-of-this-world treat, saute the liver in a little butter and deglaze with red wine or port. Or save it for an ingredient in your own homemade pate.
Pop those bits into a zip-top bag and toss them into the freezer for later use.
Next, score the skin. This is important, don’t skip it. Scoring the skin lets the maximum amount of fat drain out of the bird. Geese are super fatty birds, so you want to get as much of that fat out as you can. Score through the skin and fat ALMOST through to the meat. Don’t cut all the way to the meat.
Note all the fat on the knife already. No wonder these feathered beasts stay so warm on the water!
Score one way, then across the other way, so you have a diamond pattern. You’ll see I went a little too deep in a few places here. Prick the skin all over with a fork.
Rub #1: Five-Spice Citrus
If you’re making the five spice goose, zest your lemons and limes into a small bowl.
(Get the yellow/green rind, not the bitter white pith below it.)
Toss in the kosher salt and five-spice powder.
Mix until well combined.
(This smells SO good.)
Rub the spice mixture onto your prepped goose.
Stuff the fresh parsley and sage into the cavity.
Cut 1 lime and 1 lemon in half and stick the halves into the cavity as well.
Rub #2: Ginger + Garlic
If you’re making the ginger and garlic rub, combine the fresh garlic, ground ginger, kosher salt, white pepper, and dried parsley in a small bowl. Add the juice from 1/2 a large lemon.
Mix well to combine.
Rub all over your prepared goose.
Toss both lemon halves in the cavity of the bird.
2. Roast your goose!
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Pop your prepared goose into your preheated oven. Roast for about 20 minutes.
Keep a good eye on your bird. If the drumsticks or wingtips start to burn, cover them with a little foil.
After 20 minutes, drop the heat to 350 degrees. Pull him out of the oven.
Prick the skin all over with a knife or fork to let out more fat. Pop him back into the oven for 40 more minutes.
After 40 minutes, pull him out of the oven. Prick him all over to let out more fat. Flip him over (CAREFULLY, two people are ideal, one to steady the pan and one to flip), so he’s breast side down. At this point, there will already be a lot of hot, hot fat in the bottom of the pan. Pop him back into the oven and roast for another 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, yank him out of the oven. Flip him back over, so he’s breast-side up. Prick him all over to let out more fat. Stick him back in the oven. Roast for another 30-50 minutes, until he registers 155 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh and breast.
3. Let your goose rest before carving
When your goose has reached 155 degrees F, remove the pan from the oven and tent loosely with foil for about 30 minutes before carving. This will let him come up to 165 degrees gently, and will help ensure a juicy bird.
4. Carve, serve and enjoy!
Goose is really rich. I served with roasted potato wedges, a big salad, and cranberry sauce.
5. Don’t forget about all that glorious goose fat
When it’s cool enough to handle, skim off the goose fat from the bottom of the pan. Strain into a clean jar or measuring cup. Looks kinda gross now, but that’s liquid gold, trust me. Keep it in the fridge and use it just like you would bacon fat. It’s amazing for frying potatoes.
How to serve smoked goose
So, say you want to try a goose, but you don’t want to go through all the hullabaloo of roasting one yourself.
Get a smoked one instead. They’re fully cooked, so all you have to do is slice and serve.
The smoked goose from Sassafras Valley Farm is salty and rich with a ribbon of creamy fat, and has notes of hickory and maple. I honestly didn’t expect to like it, and it’s seriously some of the best stuff I’ve ever tasted.
For the smoked goose, we did a holiday-themed tapas-style plate.
Toasted bread with melted cheese. Sliced apple rubbed with a little lemon. Thin slices of smoked goose sprinkled with cracked pepper and pink Himalayan salt.
Really simple stuff that let the flavor of the smoked goose remain the star of the show.
If it needs to be said, the peanut gallery was transfixed the whole night. (They’re working on perfecting their Snout Tractor Beams.)
Other serving ideas for smoked goose
Here are some other ideas for serving smoked goose:
- Make the best sandwich of your life. Slice the goose thin, layer with cheddar, slices of green apple, some fresh watercress, and a smear of really good mustard.
- Combine bits of meat with fresh scallion, a little garlic, and ginger for a filling for Asian-style dumplings.
- Slice paper thin and wrap it around wedges of fresh, juicy melon (think prosciutto) for a killer salty/sweet appetizer.
- When you’re done with all that meaty goodness, don’t forget the carcass. Save it and use it to flavor an amazing bean soup or cassoulet.
Win a holiday goose of your own!
Thanks again to the good folks from Sassafras Valley Farm for sending me the geese! They’ve also graciously donated a frozen, raw goose for a giveaway.
Stay tuned later this week for info on my Sassafras Valley Holiday Goose Giveaway!
Learn more about Sassafras Valley Farm
Sassafras Valley Farm
PO Box 11
Morrison, MO 65061
Toll free: (866) 684-2188
How about you?
Have you ever had roast goose? Did you like it? Hate it? Almost set your kitchen on fire? Leave a comment below and share your story! Would love to hear from you.
The Hungry Mouse
Here's my cheat sheet for roasting a goose at home. Read my full post for more details and step-by-step photos. Happy roasting!
- Roasting an 8-9 lb. goose will take about 2 1/2 hours to just under 3 hours, including resting time, depending on your bird and your particular oven.
- Prep your goose (score the skin + rub it with the spices).
- Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Prick the skin. Drop the heat to 350. Roast for 40 minutes.
- Prick the skin. Flip the goose breast-side down. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Prick the skin. Flip the goose breast-side up. Roast for 30 – 50 minutes, depending on the size of your bird.
- When the goose registers 155 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, yank it out of the oven.
- Tent it with foil and let it sit on the counter for another 30 minutes, until it reaches 165 degrees.