Not to fear though... this goose was soooo amazing!! It was like the very best beef filet wrapped in the juiciest bacon you've ever had. The meat was a wonderful, flavorful medium-rare and the skin was crispy with just the right amount of fat remaining to make it better than any other crispy animal fat I've ever enjoyed. If you've never had goose, you're really missing out. Here's the story of how we got that awesome beast on the table:
We start with a hunt for recipes of roasted goose perfection. There are two places that I go for absolute authoritative advice for cooking when it really counts: Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen (or Cooks Illustrated/Cooks Country) and Hank Shaw of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook fame. Hank will give me the in's and out's of wild food deliciousness (especially waterfowl), and Kimball will tell me exactly why it works (after testing a recipe 10 ways from Sunday). I also consulted FoodNetwork UK since Roasted Goose is still a traditional British Christmas meal.
The first thing I discovered is that you're a complete knucklehead if you cook your goose (or duck) beyond medium rare. Ducks and geese are red meat birds – meaning the breasts of both need to be served pink. I say it all the time: ducks are not chickens; so it follows that goose is not turkey.
OK... now we have more advice than we can shake a stick at and an almost 13lb free-range, all natural goose to cook for 6 people. I took everyone's expert recommendations to heart and created my own recipe (I know you saw it coming). The highlights I gleaned from the recipes were as follows:
FoodNetwork UK said to brine the goose for at least 24 hours. I went with a basic brine (1 part sea salt, 1 part brown sugar). And also followed their advice to the letter about stuffing the bird with fruit before roasting.
Kimball said that I should air-dry the goose in the refrigerator for 24 hours in order to tighten the skin so that during roasting the fat will be squeezed out. I neglected to do the boiling water dip first but I had totally intended to - I just got disorganized in the hubbub of preparing dinner.
Hank said, in his guest post at Simply Recipes, that I would better represent the Lord of the Marsh with a medium-rare breast and well roasted legs and wings. So he advises roasting the goose for a bit, then slicing off the whole breast to finish searing it in a pan once the legs are done. That way I'll still have a nice roasted flavor on the whole goose, crispy skin, and properly pink breast meat. He also has a superb photo tour for prepping the goose that I found very helpful.
We didn't take lot of pictures because we were pretty busy bustling about getting everything ready for dinner but here's the one good picture we did manage to grab: