Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Goose Was Not Cooked

My wife has been away working a women's retreat weekend, so that meant ... time for British cooking!


Due to other commitments, I only had Saturday available for culinary creativity, so I decided to put on a full Christmas dinner with stuffed goose, Brussels sprouts and roast potatoes. The potatoes were good, the sprouts disappointing and the goose was a calamity.

It was a calamity, I tells ya! A calamity!
The recipe called for an onion and ground pork stuffing. I was to roast the bird for 2 1/2 hours, basting every 15 minutes. No problem there. It came out of the oven a delicious golden brown.

An underdone delicious golden brown.

Goose is unlike chicken or turkey. There isn't much breast meat and, being thin, it cooked through. My first cuts to determine if it was done showed the breast was ready to go. A guest noted red juices at the bottom and we all debated if that was just what geese did when they were done or if it was still a little raw.

We put it back in the oven for 15 minutes.

When it came out, we emptied the cavity of stuffing. (Geese have enormous cavities for stuffing.) The stuffing wasn't even remotely ready, as determined by a thermometer. The goose's legs were still undercooked, too. Back into the oven for another 30 minutes.

By this time, everything else was ready, dished and served at the table. Some of the guests were seated.


We covered the side dishes and opened more wine and beer. I'm fortunate that the guests were all close friends, accustomed to my culinary experiments, so it wasn't too much of a social faux pas.

When we finally determined the goose and the stuffing to be done, it was brought out, dished up and ... we sliced and served the breast meat and sent the unstuffed bird back into the oven for a third time to finish off those darn legs. By the time the legs were done, dinner was over. Two of the guys pulled the finally-fully-cooked bird out and sampled the legs. They were outstanding, probably worth the price of the bird and the effort. They brought me a piece and it was delicious. Subtle, crispy, fatty, everything I'd hoped.

I've been bitten by this kind of thing before with Cornish game hens. Only that time, it wasn't the stuffing that was the problem, it was the number of hens. Where it takes 4 stuffed hens 60 minutes to cook, it will take 12 hens much, much longer.

In this case, it was the stuffing that got me. The book was just flat-out wrong in the timing. There was no way on earth that bird was going to be ready in 2 1/2 hours and that's a fact. That the stuffing was a huge dud to me (a few guests liked it a lot) tells me to never, ever do that again.

Unlike turkey or chicken, goose is an expensive meat. Mine was $10 a pound, making this a meal you really don't want to screw up. In the end, the meat was good and I might do it again, but I'd never stuff another one.

Oh, and I mucked up the gravy, too, but I'm out of time so you'll just have to imagine what mucked-up goose gravy is like.


tim eisele said...

"But it isn't too good when a moose and a goose, Start dreaming they're drinking the other one's juice.
Moose juice, not goose juice, is juice for a moose. And goose juice, not moose juice, is juice for a goose. So, when goose gets a mouthful of juices of mooses, And moose gets a mouthful of juices of gooses, They always fall out of their beds screaming screams. So, I'm warning you, now! Never drink in your dreams."

I'm sorry, but it had to be said.

Incidentally, I forget which well-known chef it was that recommended this (maybe Julia Child?), but it is supposed to be easier to get everything cooked right if you remove the legs and wings from a bird and cook them separately. That big, compact mass of bird torso cooks at a different rate than the relatively small, well-exposed legs, and the legs get in the way of almost anything you try to do.

(the most extreme example of this I've seen was the time we butchered a rooster, and got him all prepped and into the oven so fast that rigor mortis hadn't even set in yet. His legs straightened out as he cooked, and he ended up kicking the lid off of the roaster pan)

K T Cat said...

Removing the legs - brilliant! You'd get insulating mass away from the rest of the body and the surface area of juice-leaking cuts would be pretty minimal.