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A goose is a type of poultry often served at Thanksgiving and Christmas in some countries as an alternative to turkey or ham. While cooking goose can be performed using many of the same techniques that one would use for other types of poultry, this type of bird does need some special consideration. Buyers should look for a fresh or frozen goose that is between 8 and 12 pounds (3.5 to 5.5 kg). Before cooking goose, one should remove as much fat as possible from the internal cavity and prick the skin with a sharp fork. The goose can be filled with stuffing or aromatics to increase flavor and then roasted for around 20 minutes per pound.
In some areas, goose may only be available as a frozen product, although fresh goose often can be found around the holidays. A larger goose tends to be tougher, so buyers should look for smaller birds, even though they will provide fewer servings. Frozen goose should be defrosted in the refrigerator or by placing the bird in a container with cold water that is changed frequently to maintain the cold temperature. The goose may contain a small package of giblets that must be removed before cooking.
While the oven is preheating, the goose should be rinsed thoroughly and patted dry with paper towels. Goose, like duck, has a significantly higher fat content than chicken or turkey. Cooks should remove as much of the fat as possible before cooking and prick the skin of the goose so the remaining fat can drain as it renders during the cooking process. This fat is prized by many chefs for its rich flavor and can be rendered down and saved for use in other recipes.
The goose then can be seasoned with salt and pepper, as well as other herbs and spices, if desired. Some chefs prefer to fill the body cavity with stuffing or aromatics for extra flavor. Recommended aromatics include apples, onions, carrots and other flavorful ingredients. While cooking goose, the reserved giblets can be used to make a gravy to serve along with the main course.
The cooking goose generally will take from two to three hours, depending on the temperature of the oven. The goose is done when its juices run clear or when a thermometer inserted into a thigh reads 180° F (82° C). Fat from the cooking goose may need to be skimmed from the bottom of the drip pan from time to time during cooking. Once it is done, goose should be allowed to rest for several minutes before carving to let the juices absorb back into the meat.
I've seen recipes for potatoes cooked in goose fat, as a dish for Boxing Day in the UK -- the day after Christmas. I've never eaten goose, that I know of, but I would love to try those potatoes. The recipes sound delicious and suitably decadent for a holiday dish.
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