Roast Goose

When I set about creating a non-traditional Christmas Menu, it was to survive the craziness of food shopping in Hong Kong. An HK ‘semi-lockdown’ Survival Guide to cooking your own Christmas dinner. I roast a chicken weekly; duck is my go-to for a special event…I needed a new idea.

Turkeys can be impossible to get here at the last minute – who has the freezer space to buy one ahead of time!? But locally, we know how to party: and that is with goose. It is a true feasting food! Peking duck is special, but a whole roast goose? Now THAT is a celebration.

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Tips and Tricks

To make life easier, I’ve included directions for duck and chicken as well – so whichever non-turkey, non-game bird you get your hands on, you’re covered!

The one piece of equipment I do recommend investing in (and you don’t need a super fancy, bells and whistles one) is an oven thermometer. When you’re cooking poultry, you want to make sure you’ve cooked it safely and even a basic meat thermometer will save any worry or doubts.

Roast Goose

A perfect Christmas centrepiece: Szechuan pepper spiced, crispy goose. Served with a sumptuous gravy thanks to a semi-spatchcock cook. Incredibly tasty and incredibly achievable. Plus goose fat…! Versatile and easy to tweak for a chicken or pekin/Gressingham duck.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Resting Time20 mins
Total Time2 hrs 40 mins
Course: Christmas Food, Christmas Menu, Dinner, Family Meal, Main Course, Poultry
Cuisine: British, Cantonese, International
Keyword: Christmas, Duck, Goose, Poultry, Roast Dinner, Roast Goose
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Wire rack
  • (Foil) roasting tin
  • Meat thermometer
  • Kitchen scissors / poultry shears
  • Cake tester / toothpick
  • Pastry brush (or kitchen roll) to apply the glaze
  • Kettle (for goose/duck only)

Ingredients

  • 1 Goose Around 2kg / 4.5lbs before trimming; substitute large duck or chicken*
  • Szechuan peppercorns Whole or coarsely ground
  • 2 Brown onions
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tsp Dark soy sauce Substitute: gluten-free alternative

Instructions

Christmas Eve / The Day Before your Cook

  • If you're cooking a chicken, skip ahead to 'Christmas Morning'!
  • If you're dealing with a pretty farm-fresh piece of poultry, cut off the head and feet with a chopper / sharp knife and discard.
    Goose only: trim the layer of fat around the cavity and discard; trim the remaining fat closer to the breast meat and seal in a Tupperware. We'll add to this tomorrow.
  • Thoroughly rinse the inside and out of your goose/duck. Leave it for ten minutes or so to air dry; check the duck over for feather beds – remove any with some tweezers or a kitchen blow torch if you have one at home!
  • Using a cake tester or a toothpick, stab the skin around the breasts and legs. Rub 1-2 tsp coarse salt into the skin and place the bird onto a large plate. Cover it loosely with a large zip-loc or two and leave it for as long as you can to dry out in the fridge.

Christmas Morning / The Day of your Cook

  • If you're cooking a chicken, rinse it, air dry and check for any substantial feathers; rub 1 tsp of coarse salt into the skin. Trim any excess fat by the cavity and keep aside for your gravy.
  • Bring your bird up to room temperature.
  • To semi-spatchcock your bird, place a couple of sheets of kitchen towel over the breasts to stop too much moisture getting into the skin. Remove any excess neck skin and set aside in a small bowl – we’ll use this for the gravy.
  • Lay the goose/duck/chook breast-down and, working from the neck, cut down one side of the spine until you get to the hip joint area. Repeat down the other side of the spine.
  • Working up from the cavity, continue cutting along the spine towards your previous cuts. Take care around the final ribs as this is a harder snip. Repeat on the other side and add the whole spine to the skin/fat.
  • Turn your goose/duck/chook breast-side up. If the wings are not trimmed, remove the tips (cut off right under the 'elbow') and keep aside.
  • Duck/goose only: heat a filled kettle to boiling. Carefully hold your bird over the sink and pour the water down its skin (avoiding your own!) – especially around the breast and thigh area. The skin will shrink a little and go a bit 'goosebump-y'; the fat will be loosened slightly and melt wonderfully well in the oven.
  • Crush 1/2 tbsp of Szechuan peppercorns and rub into the inside/flesh-side of the goose/duck/chicken. Peel and halve your onions, peel the cloves of garlic and position them in the centre of a wire rack. Pop your bird on top, breast-side up, sort of wrapping the veg inside.
  • Place the wire rack over a large foil tin / roasting tray and put aside until you're ready to roast.

To Cook

  • Preheat oven to 130C/265F fan / 150C/300F / Gas Mark 3 for your goose. (See notes for timing).
    Chicken/duck: preheat oven to 180C/360F fan / 200C/390F / Gas Mark 6.
  • Mix together 1 tbsp each of water and honey, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce and a large pinch of Szechuan pepper and evenly distribute a layer across the skin of your bird. Reapply occasionally throughout the cook.
  • If using an oven thermometer with a set temperature: set it to 71C. The meat will come up to the target temperature of 74C (160F) as it rests. If using a regular thermometer, check the goose after the first hour and adjust the oven temperature slightly lower if the meat is cooking quickly. If duck/chicken, check after 45 minutes and continue to cook until the 71C mark.
  • Through your cook, or certainly at the end, collect all that amazing fat and the juices from the baking tray under your bird and add them to your stored fat collected yesterday. If you're not cooking goose, you can always add this to your gravy for even more flavour – geese are a little too fatty for this step.
  • Once you’re up to the desired temp., remove the baking tray from the oven, lightly tent with tin foil and rest the meat for at least ten minutes.
  • If serving whole, proceed to plating up; or use your kitchen scissors to carefully quarter the bird.

Video

Notes

*Pekin and Gressingham ducks work well here; however the same cannot be said of barbary ducks. 
Be sure to save all of that excess goose fat before and during the cook – it’ll live in the freezer no problem and is a fantastic resource!!
 
A goose is a much longer cook due to the sheer amount of fat to render out of the bird. To avoid overcooking, this is a low/slow cook and shall take approximately 2 hours.
The duck/chicken option is a faster cook, taking approximately 1 hour.
 
If you have a small oven and you’re going to rest your bird while you cook your veggies, that’s no problem, just pop it back into the oven on 180C (360F) for ten minutes to recrisp up the skin and warm through. Serve immediately.

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