We've all read Christmas stories that mention eating goose for Christmas dinner; it's a common theme in tales and Christmas movies. For most of us, our first introduction to the concept of a Christmas goose came from the famous Dickens story "A Christmas Carol," in which a roast goose was the centerpiece of the Cratchit family dinner. But why? What's special about goose that made it popular at Christmas? Do people still eat goose at Christmas? Could you?
All of these factors lead to an ideal treat for a special holiday meal.
Goose meat combines well with fruits coming into season in the fall and early winter such as – apples, pears, plums, and figs – all of which make great side dish additions or simply mixed into a stuffing. These colorful treats add to the visual festivity of this meal as well as serving as a delicious addition to the main course. The typical preparation for goose is roasted, like turkey, however the higher fat content and lower cooking temperature actually make this bird easier to prepare; the meat naturally holds more moisture and flavor, so basting is not as much of a concern. Goose is also best prepared at a lower cook point than chicken or turkey--the meat should be prepared to more of a medium or medium rare, as opposed to the full cooking that chicken and turkey require to preventing sickness.
The typical goose recipe calls for the bird to be roasted in a dish in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes per pound. Recipes vary, along with suggested stuffing's and seasonings. Your best bet is to search through your favorite cookbooks or recipe websites and find a recipe that matches your intended celebration, tastes, and nutritional requirements. Don't be intimidated by this new bird--if you can cook a turkey or chicken, you can cook a goose! Try this Delicious Roast Goose Recipe.
Because it is simple to prepare, has great flavor, and it is steeped in tradition, geese are becoming more popular in the United States. A quick survey of popular internet cooking forums and websites will reveal that more and more Americans have made this old treat new again, much to our benefit since recipes and availability have increased with popularity.
If you do not see goose offered at your local grocery store, consider speaking with the butcher to discuss availability, visiting a local farmer or high-end grocery store that caters to more select tastes. Remember that because of their breeding season and speed of maturity, geese are not typically available for consumption until early winter, so don’t despair if you can’t find one in August because they are not ready. Return in December and you will find your holiday bird.
The Christmas Goose tradition of yesteryear is undergoing something of a revival in the United States. Its richness and complexity of its dark meat, the ease of preparation, and the uniqueness of this bird make it an attractive option. Are you ready to try something new and different? Perhaps this year is the year you break your tradition by trying goose for Christmas and reconnecting with what you saw in A Christmas Carol – a delicious, roast goose on Christmas Day.
Laura Holt, for Agrilicious!