Roast goose is no longer the traditional main course of the American holiday table, but it remains a literary Christmas classic—particularly highlighted in Dicken’s iconic A Christmas Carol, where the roast goose takes center stage in the Cratchit family meal. What reader doesn’t rejoice when Mrs. Cratchit cuts into the longed-for, carefully prepared bird as Tiny Tim “beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried ‘Hurrah’ ”? Nobody from FORMA had roasted a goose before, but we had enough Christmas gumption to manifest the entire spirit of the season. So, yep, that’s right, folks: we roasted a goose.
It turns out that geese are not easy to procure at a typical supermarket, but Whole Foods does carry a few in their frozen section, and your local butcher is sure to stock for those adventurous souls seeking a literary-themed Christmas feast. It felt right to make a trip to a specialty store and pay a few extra pennies for the festive bird since families in Victorian times would scrimp and save the entire year to grace their tables with the Christmas goose. For about as much preparation time and effort as your Thanksgiving turkey, a properly roasted goose with crispy skin and rich, peppered gravy is just the thing to lure (I mean gather) the family around the table for an unforgettable holiday extravaganza. Serve with buttered peas, creamy mashed potatoes, goose gravy, a colorful green salad, and, of course, plum pudding with hard sauce. Your family and friends are sure to rise up, call you blessed, and exclaim, “God bless us, everyone.” —Heidi White
Mrs. Cratchit’s Crispy Roast Goose with Goose Gravy
Take the goose out of the packaging. Remove the neck and trim the skin around the neck. Remove the organs; either discard or reserve to make goose stock.
Using a paring knife, carefully make 1-inch slits in the skin around the entire bird. Be careful to slit the skin without piercing the meat. Make extra slits under the wings and legs. (These slits are for rendering the fat, which will keep the meat from being overly greasy and will provide the fat for your gravy, so don’t skip this step.)
Meanwhile, boil enough water to cover the goose in a large stockpot. After piercing the skin, don heavy plastic gloves and dunk the bird under the water. Blanche for 1-2 minutes. If your pot is not large enough to dunk the entire goose, do not fear! Simply submerge as much as you can, blanche for one minute, then remove the goose, flip it over, and repeat. You may use any utensil to remove the goose, but I do not recommend metal tongs because of the risk of piercing the meat. Gloves work best.
Drain the water from the goose and pat dry.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons baking powder and 1/2 cup good quality salt. (I used French gray salt, but any high-quality sea salt, Himalayan salt, or kosher salt will work just fine.) Rub the salt mixture evenly over the goose skin. Be generous - this is what makes the skin crispy, so slather away! Make sure you sprinkle under the wings and legs. Transfer to a roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for 12-24 hours.
After the goose has been dry-brined for 12-24 hours, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the oven rack in the lowest position. Remove goose from the refrigerator and place breast side down in a deep roasting pan or a V-pan. The goose will render a lot of fat so you will need a deep pan. Transfer goose to oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours. (I did not roast my goose with stuffing for the totally professionally legit reason that I don’t like it. Dressing? That’s a different story. Yum. I dig dressing. But stuffing is not my jam, especially in a fatty bird-like goose. But there are plenty of goose stuffing recipes available online for those of you who want to add it here.)
Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the roasting pan or V-rack to a work surface. Carefully spoon or pour off all but a few tablespoons of the rendered fat in the roasting pan into a heat-safe bowl or container, being careful to leave behind any browned bits. Reserve rendered fat. Return goose to the roasting pan and carefully rotate the goose breast side up. Return goose to the oven and roast until skin is puffed up around breast bone and tops of thighs, and skin is browned, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove from the oven.
Raise oven temperature to 400°F. Return goose to oven until skin is fully browned and crisp, about 15 minutes longer.
Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer newly accumulated rendered fat from roasting pan to reserved fat. Scrape off the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan and add to the rendered fat.
For the gravy: Skim 1/2 cup rendered fat from the reserved fat. Place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup flour. Mix over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the flour is completely dissolved and the mixture bubbles slightly.
Slowly pour 1/2 cup reserved fat (through a strainer) and 1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock (use goose stock if you can find it or make it!) into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Repeat until the gravy is at your preferred taste and consistency. Once the gravy has boiled, it will not thicken anymore.
Stir 1 tablespoon of salt and 2-4 tablespoons of pepper into the gravy. Sample and continue to season with pepper to taste. Remove from heat once you stop whisking.
Carve the goose and serve with gravy and all the trimmings.
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