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Not just the guy behind Maverick

Somehow I got it into my head that it was time to try goose.  Last year I roasted beef for Christmas, and made duck prosciutto and confit, and I think I’ve taken the big bird as far as it can go so up next was the long bird.

The first order of business is obviously to find a goose.  I have seen frozen ones in the low cases at Loblaws but I worry about them for two reasons.  First, they’re from Quebec so I wonder if these are the byproduct of goose liver production and therefore possibly not ideal for their meat.  Admittedly, I don’t actually know that this is the case, does anyone have any information on this score?  Secondly, I’d wager that the turnover is very low on this item so I’d be concerned about how long they have spent in these coolers being jostled about and possibly bruised.

Instead I turned to Twitter for suggestions.  Both @samanthadjr and @whoresradish recommended Fresh from the Farm so that’s where I presented myself on December 14th and signed their charming order book with the details of my request. I mention the date because even this was too late to secure a fresh goose so I had to settle for frozen.  Their price for geese is $5.25 per pound.

Unlike the grocery store option I don’t think this was a negative.  These frozen geese were raised on a small farm in southwestern Ontario and delivered directly to Fresh from the Farm.

They were slaughtered and processed in late October so were smaller–a plus because some recipes state that one large goose would not have stretched far enough for our ten diners–and may also have been a bit less fatty.  When the supply of fresh grass runs out in October farmers traditionally put their gaggle into harvested wheat fields to eat the stubble.  These days when even small farms tend to be too specialised for this option they’re more likely to be finished on corn or wheat that is supplied in feeders so I imagine that December-killed geese are even fattier.

They went from frozen to workably defrosted after about twenty-four hours in a cooler filled with cold water that I changed regularly.  After that step I faced the task of removing the feather quills that the small processor missed.  A rather uncomfortable half an hour of popping goose pimples with a pair of clean pliers (needle-nose would probably work best) rendered the geese in a more pristine state.

Though much less spherical a goose is almost as long as a large turkey.   I worried that they wouldn’t both fit in a single roasting pan and unlike two trays of cookies, two full roasting pans are difficult to juggle in an oven at once.  I’ve also read that for goose the feat of having the breast and thigh meat cooked at the same time is even more difficult that it is for turkey.  Finally, I wanted to reduce the amount of work we would have in the hour or two before dinner and I also wanted to have some goose fat already rendered before the big day.  These three factors all led me to propose the solution of splitting the geese in half and dealing with the parts separately.

Two goose carcasses, freed of their leg quarters, breasts ready to be roasted.

The breasts I would keep attached to their bones and the birds’ backbone so that they could be roasted and still offer the festive appearance of a golden brown holiday bird.  I briefly toyed with the idea of using these two half-carcasses–once cooked and the breast meat had been removed–as serving dishes for the dressing but decided that would be a bit macabre and also a logistical nightmare.  The leg-and-thigh quarters I decided to braise in the same Earth to Table recipe that I used for duck last year.  Sort of on the spur of the moment I made a mousse pate with the goose liver (Julia Child’s recipe, of course) and as a nod to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall I stuffed the goose’s neck with ground pork, the rest of the giblets and lots of other delicious ingredients.

More details on specific methods and results will be forthcoming in a future post.

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3 Comments

  1. CallieK says:

    I’ve always wanted to try cooking a goose but have yet to have the opportunity- looking forward to reading how it all turned out.

    Nice Top Gun reference!

  2. [...] vanilla goat milk ice cream from Hewitts Dairy at Fresh from the Farm when I was picking up our Christmas geese and that went really well with the fruit but the ice cream is running [...]

  3. Bonita says:

    I opted to make goose for Christmas dinner this year as well! Looking forward to seeing what you did with it!

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