Cooking Poultry

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Fact Sheet


Domestic geese are domesticated Grey geese (either Greylag geese or Swan geese) kept as poultry for their meat, eggs, and down feathers since ancient times.


A goose can be roasted as a whole bird, but its size tends to preclude this except for banquets and other festive meals (such as at Christmas). Goose meat contains much more fat than turkeys or chickens - at least 500 ml (around one pint) of fat may be rendered from an average-sized goose during cooking. One litre is not unusual for larger birds. The Cantonese barbecue features roast goose over a charcoal spit with a "tuned" crispy skin.


Most of the fat is concentrated in the skin, and the meat itself is very lean, rather like duck. It is easy to overcook the breast and undercook the leg if roasting whole. Separate treatment for breast and leg is therefore often necessary to achieve a consistently cooked bird.


Some argue that the breast meat of goose need not be cooked as thoroughly as that of chicken, since it has not endured the cramped living conditions of factory chickens.


Goose fat is often separated and stored for use on its own. It can be used as a substitute for butter, although the flavour can be slightly "gamey". Potatoes cooked in this fat are highly regarded by some. The fat keeps well in the refrigerator. Goose schmaltz is very popular in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, and the overfeeding of geese to produce this schmaltz is widely considered to be the origin of foie gras in modern Europe.


Roast goose is a traditional Christmas food in Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland and the UK.  Goose can also be prepared as confit, and the fat used to preserve the meat.  Geese are also used in the production of foie gras


Foie gras is "the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by gavage".  Pâté de foie gras was formerly known as "Strasbourg pie" in English due to that city being a major producer of this food product.


Gavage-based foie gras production is controversial, due to the force feeding procedure, and the possible health consequences of an enlarged liver, and a number of countries and other jurisdictions have laws against force feeding or the sale of foie gras due to how it is traditionally produced.


Foie gras is one of the most popular and well-known delicacies in French cuisine and its flavour is described as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of a regular duck or goose liver. Foie gras can be sold whole, or prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté (the lowest quality), and is typically served as an accompaniment to another food item, such as toast or steak.


In France, foie gras exists in different, legally-defined presentations, from the expensive to the cheap.


·         foie gras entier (whole foie gras), made of one or two whole liver lobes; either cooked (cuit), semi-cooked (mi-cuit), or fresh (frais);

·         foie gras, made of pieces of livers reassembled together;

·         bloc de foie gras, a fully-cooked, moulded block composed of 98% or more foie gras; if termed avec morceaux ("with pieces"), it

        must contain at least 50% foie gras pieces for goose, and 30% for duck.


Additionally, there exists pâté de foie gras; mousse de foie gras (both must contain 50% or more foie gras); parfait de foie gras (must contain 75% or more foie gras); and other preparations (no legal obligation established).


Fully cooked preparations are generally sold in either glass containers or metal cans for long-term preservation. Whole, fresh foie gras is usually unavailable in France, except in some producers' markets in the producing regions. Frozen whole foie gras sometimes is sold in French supermarkets




Goose is traditionally in season from Michaelmas, September the 29th until Christmas



Quality Indicators


                               The feet and bills should be bright yellow

                               The upper bill should break easily

                               The web feet must be easy to tear





Fresh geese are available from specialist suppliers and quality butchers. You may need to order in advance, particularly around Christmas. Geese are quite big-boned and so choose a larger bird than you would a chicken (allow at least 750g per person). Having said that, smaller (younger) birds are the most tender, so two small geese are preferable to a single huge one.


Choose plump-looking free-range birds.



Keep refrigerated, giblets removed, for 2 or 3 days.



Scoop out any excess fat from the cavity and put aside for roasting potatoes. Rinse the goose inside and out and pat well dry. Prick the skin to enable the fat to be released during cooking (try not to pierce the flesh) and rub the skin with salt and pepper.


Place breast side up on a rack over a roasting pan. Roast at 220°C for 30 minutes followed by around 2˝ to 3˝ hours (depending on size) at 180°C. Baste the goose every 20 to 30 minutes and remove the fat that accumulates in the pan or it will smoke furiously (the fat can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or frozen). If parts of the goose seem to be browning too quickly, wrap them in foil.


The goose is cooked when a skewer in the thickest part of the thigh reveals clear juices (the flesh may still be slightly pink). Remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes or so before carving.