Extensive cross-breeding of turkeys has lead to the meat becoming mushy in texture, in geese however cross breeding is more difficult and therefore less widely practiced, as a result the natural cycle of raising geese is largely still intact, therefore making it a more healthy choice for anybody concerned with artificial additives in meat.
Goose flesh is textually rich and lends itself to the more flavoursome dishes, in France the traditional dish Cassoulet is a thick soup or casserole using goose fat, beans and vegetables. Another famous dish is Confit of goose; Confit means cooked in its own fat and if done properly is crisp and deliciously rich.
Throughout the world there are many varieties of geese, but the most popular for eating are White English, Gray Toulouse and the common Chinese goose. To achieve the best flavour farmers feed a mixture of corn, wheat and Soya bean. Mature birds weigh between 8-9kg although younger birds weighing 4.5-5.5kg are a better buy being tenderer. All varieties of goose contain a high proportion of fat and should ideally be cooked using methods to reduce the fat content.
By blanching the bird prior to cooking, a large amount of fat can be drawn off, this will require a meat dish large enough to contain the bird and leave sufficient room around the edges to hold the surplus juices. On the hob part of the cooker place the goose in the meat tin and pour in a little water (roughly about 1.5 inches) bring slowly to the boil, after simmering very gently for a few minuets on one side, carefully turn the bird and repeat the procedure on the other side, when the colour is slightly transparent in appearance, drain the juices off and after pricking all over lightly with a fork, place the goose in the oven to finish cooking.
Start roasting at 475f for twenty minuets and reduce the oven to 375f until the bird is fully cooked, allow roughly 20 minuets per pound or 30 minuets per kilo, test the goose is cooked by inserting a meat probe into the fattest part of the thigh, if the bird is cooked properly, this should read 170f.
If you are serving stuffing with the goose, this would be better cooked separately to lower the chances of it soaking up unnecessary fat, instead try filling the body cavity with peeled apples, onions, oranges or celery.
Being far more moist than turkey, goose can be served without the need for a sauce however, a good homemade cranberry sauce will heighten the flavour even more (see this months recipe, page 28) you should expect to pay a little more for goose then turkey, but the experience will be well worth it.
Carving and serving
Carving a goose is a similar procedure to carving any large bird; begin by removing the wings from the body, next, ease away the drumstick and thigh at the hip joint, this can be divided into two pieces.
If the bird is a large one, you may want to slice the meat from the drumstick and thigh. Remove the breast meat all in one piece from each side, by a inserting knife between the meat and the keel bone, cut down the breastbone, continue cutting along the wishbone to the wing joint with the knife parallel to the breastbone and lift the meat away from the breast and rib cage. The breast meat can be divided into 2-4 equal portions depending on the size of the bird.
Goose is amazingly versatile with most wines, being particularly good with the more crisp white wines especially those of a higher acid as this counter-balances the very rich taste of the meat.
Being a more gamey bird then turkey or even duck, goose can be enjoyed with a full bodied red, most of the Reojas work well.
Some recommended wines for goose are, an Austrian Gruner Veltliner, an Alsatian Riesling or a high acid Merlot.
However you decide to try goose, you may just discover that its too good just for Christmas.