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December 16, 2009 > A goose is cooked

A goose is cooked

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By Doris Nikolaidis

Break with your family's traditional holiday meat; cook a goose. This meat is popular for festive occasions in England, Germany, and was even eaten in ancient Egypt. It was the traditional Sabbath dinner of Eastern European Jews. Folklore tells us that Queen Elizabeth I was having goose when the news came that the English Navy had defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. Henceforth, in honor of the victory, goose was served every Michaelmas (September 29) by decree of the queen. It was typically eaten in the New World but gradually fell out of favor.

Here are some interesting bits of goose trivia to learn. A group of geese on the ground is known as a gaggle; geese in flight are called a wedge or a skein. Geese usually mate for life, although a few have been known to split up or 'divorce.' Officially, the name goose refers to the adult female. The adult male is known as a gander. Goslings are the young males and females. Together, goose parents protect the nest and the young. For this reason, goslings have a better survival rate than ducklings. Another claim to fame is that 'goose,' in its origins, is one of the oldest words in the Indo-European languages.

Goose, full of dark meat and rich in flavor, is also full of fat. (The fat can be saved and used later for frying.) It is a most favorable fat, especially for frying latkes (potato pancakes). Before cooking, remove the obvious fat; then prick the bird all over the skin but do not prick the meat. This is the escape route for the fat while the goose cooks.

Another technique is blanching the goose in boiling water for one minute. It can also dry in the refrigerator for one or two days. One more helpful hint is to siphon off the fat in the roasting pan; it will be plentiful. Occasionally, remove the fat with a turkey baster (bulb baster) or it may catch on fire.

A goose can be cooked with or without stuffing. Different regions vary the stuffing: German Jews stuffed a goose with apples, red cabbage and chestnuts, Germans used sauerkraut or mashed potatoes, Scandinavians inserted prunes and apples, and the English added sage and onion to the stuffing. Another goose delicacy is foie gras (French for fat liver). This pate is most popular in France but the United States produces and consumes it as well.

It is advisable to buy a goose, either domestic or wild, at a grocery store or meat market. Frozen geese are for sale at local grocery stores. A smaller bird, around 8 - 12 pounds, tastes better. Catching one at Lake Elizabeth, the Union City Lagoon, or at the Lake in Newark is not recommended or allowed. Besides probably being illegal, the goose would have to be cleaned and dressed!

If you experiment with a goose, you can state, "My goose is cooked!" Good luck and happy holidays.

Here is one recipe to try. For more recipes, just type 'goose' in any search engine.

Traditional German Roast Goose

1 lb. small apples
3 ounces currants
1 young goose, 8 - 12 lbs., fresh or defrosted from frozen
2 Tablespooms breadcrumbs
1/2 cup beef broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of powdered cloves
4 ounces thinly sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt

Peel apples; leave stems and do not cut. Wash currants and let dry. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash goose inside and out with cold water; dry with a paper towel; rub inside and out with 2 teaspoons of salt.

Put apples in roasting pan; sprinkle dried currants and breadcrumbs over apples. Put young goose atop apples. Pour beef broth with lemon juice, powdered cloves, almonds and 2 tablespoons of olive oil around goose.

Cover goose and roast about 40 minutes. Remove lid and cook another 50 minutes until crispy brown or until meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F. Turn off oven and open oven door. Let goose rest about 10 minutes in the open oven. Skim off any fat from liquid; remove apples and make gravy.

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