Goose Broth with Foie Gras and Vegetables/Photo by Shimon and Tammar Rothstein

Out of nowhere My Girl Friday shouted, “You should do a post on goose!” with her customary joie de vivre. So when I was ordering a couple of chickens from Cara at Tea Hill Farms, I asked if she had a goose. No, but her neighbor did. A few days later my dear pal Lester shouted, “We should cook goose!” I said, “I just bought one!” My equally dear pal (all of us since high school) Dave Loomis said, “I want in!” So for what is now about year 15 of an annual dinner, I determined to cook my own goose. I had cooked goose, exactly once, nearly two decades ago (I remember being astonished at the quantity of fat it released, staggering).

I’d watched a goose cooked late in the late fall of 2001 (when airports were empty of children, eerily quiet, and everything ran like clockwork) in Vermont with chef Eric Ripert for our book A Return to Cooking, which features not only Eric’s jazz-like improvs on cooking but his friend’s amazing paintings of what we were cooking and Shimon and Tammar’s gorgeous photography.

[Interruption for The Friday Cocktail Hour. If, as many will be this evening, you are at holiday party, and wodka is what you prefer, I recommend a Grey Goose, on the rocks, with a splash of cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime, especially if you aren’t paying for it.]

Eric had done a goose in Vermont and so I returned to this book and found his customary cleverness and good sense. The recipe below is how a four-star chef does it. I took the general idea and customized it for our gathering, adhering to the two fundamental techniques that made this a killer preparation and, after cooking it myself, understood the true gift of goose.

Eric first poaches the duck in chicken stock; this cooks (and tenderizes) the tough, gamey bird and renders the copious fat, ensuring a fantastically crispy skin when it’s roasted. The second brilliant idea was to make use of that poaching liquid to create a luscious soup, lean, with root vegetables and a central luxurious slab of foie gras (which I happened to have thanks to my mom, Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan, and the wonderful farmers and purveyors of all things duck, Hudson Valley Foie Gras).

I poached the goose not in simmering stock but in stock and water at about 190°F/88°C for 3 or 4 hours, packing the pot with leek greens (I’d save the whites for the soup), onions, and carrots. The hard part is finding a pot big enough to hold the goose without requiring enormous amounts of liquid. My goose didn’t quite fit and so I cooked it very gently and turned it midway through so that the whole thing was cooked.

You have to start at least a day ahead, and up to four days. But the rest should be easily imagined. Chill goose after poaching. Strain poaching liquid through cloth. Chill, remove congealed fat; brown onions in that fat for goose schmaltz (I ate the browned onions out of the strainer) and save. Reduce and fortify the poaching liquid that will be the soup. Day two: Roast the goose till it’s skin is breathtakingly crispy, have-to-slap-greedy-fingers-away crisp (see below), cook diced potatoes in the goose schmaltz. Dip slabs of foie in the hot broth to warm them and rest them in warm bowls, ladle the hot-hot soup over them, and serve with caramelized leek rings and celery root cooked in the broth. In a roasting pan heat some leftover goose broth. Carve the leg meat off the goose and slice the breast. Keep it all warm and moist in goose broth. I had duck gelatin from duck confit and mixed in an equal part of Dijon to sauce the goose with (you can just serve mustard, as Eric does). Serve it with crispy schmaltz-roasted potatoes and shaved Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon.

Dave shot an iPhone movie of me finishing this goose last Saturday: Watch it here on Vimeo.

This was indeed a rich meal, and dear Les brought out a gift, a 1963 Armagnac his dad had given him. “Life’s too short to hang on to this stuff; you’ve got to drink it when you have it,” he said, or words to that effect.

He also said something interesting: “I’ll bet this is why goose was a traditional holiday preparation.” None of us had consumed a lot of actual meat, or needed to. It was very rich in itself. But it had given so much more than the meat. I’d cooked the potatoes in the fat. We’d used the cooking broth for an opening soup. And the carcass resulted in a gallon of rich goose stock the next day. I paid $47 for this 7-pound goose and it fed seven people—less than $7 dollars per person, for the whole meal amply and well, and will provide a couple more meals of soup and vegetables in the coming week ($10 per extra, for the foie, an extravagance, admittedly).

But the riches of the goose were amazing. I hadn’t realized till I’d cooked it myself. Thank you, Eric! And thank you, Les and Lee, for hosting this year’s fête.

Best wishes to all at this holiday time! Cook a goose!

Roasted goose: a true holiday classic dish. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

The following recipes from that wonderful book linked to above, A Return to Cooking, are great for exact times and temps for those who want to follow a recipe. I winged it. I didn’t use the truffle juice and the soup was still out of this world.

Roasted Goose with Sautéed Potatoes and Dandelion Salad

Serves 6

Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 3½ hours

The goose:

  • One 8-pound goose
  • 2 gallons chicken stock (you can substitute water)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

The potatoes:

  • 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons duck fat (you can substitute vegetable oil)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

The salad:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups bread cubes (about ½-inch; use any firm white bread, such as French baguette)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ pound dandelion greens, washed thoroughly to remove sand (you can substitute frisée)
  • Dijon mustard for serving
  1. Place the goose in a large pot and cover with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, skimming the foam as it rises to the top, then lower the heat to simmer. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste. Poach the goose until tender, about 2 hours. Transfer the goose to a platter. Reserve cooking liquid for another use (such as the foie gras pot-au-feu below).
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.
  3. Place the goose on a rack in a large roasting pan. Roast the goose until the skin is crispy, about 1 hour. If necessary, turn on your broiler to crisp the skin for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the goose from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and halve the potatoes. Cut each half into 6 wedges. Melt the duck fat in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and tender inside. Set the pan aside.
  5. For the salad, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and toast them lightly. Add 1 teaspoon of the chopped garlic and toss to combine. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the Dijon, sherry vinegar, and onion and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then the canola oil. Set aside.
  7. When ready to serve, reheat the potatoes over medium heat, tossing until crisp. Add the butter, parsley, and garlic and toss to combine. Adjust the salt and pepper. Toss the dandelion greens, croutons, and the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic in a bowl. Drizzle enough vinaigrette over the salad to coat and toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning.
  8. Carve the goose and slice the breast meat and leg meat. Place 3 slices of breast meat and 2 slices of leg meat at the bottom of each plate (you may have some left over). Mound the salad at the 10 o’clock position on each plate and place the potatoes at 2 o’clock. Serve immediately. Pass the Dijon mustard at the table, for the goose.

Foie Gras Pot-au-Feu with Truffle Juice and Goose Broth

Serves 6
Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 20 minutes

  • 2 quarts goose-infused chicken stock
  • Six 3-inch pieces celery
  • 3 medium turnips, peeled and halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 medium leeks, white part only
  • 1 Grade A duck foie gras, the large lobe only (reserve the remaining small lobe for another use)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup truffle juice (we recommend Pébeyre brand)

The garnish:

  • ½ teaspoon gray sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper mignonette (lightly crushed black peppercorns)
  • 6 tablespoons red wine
  1. In a large pot, bring the stock to a simmer. Add the vegetables and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables and set the broth aside. Cut the carrots into 6 pieces measuring 3 inches by ½ inch (reserve the remaining carrots of another use). Cut the leeks into 6 pieces measuring 3 inches by ½ inch (reserve the remaining leeks for another use). Set the vegetables aside.
  2. Fill a pitcher full of hot water and place it to the side of your cutting board. With a very sharp knife, cut the foie gras crosswise into six ¾-inch slices, dipping your knife in the hot water in between each slice. Remove the large veins and discard. Place the foie gras slices in a casserole large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. (If preparing ahead, cover the foie gras with plastic wrap placed directly against the surface. Refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving.)
  3. Season the foie gras on both sides with salt and pepper. Bring 6 cups of the broth to a boil and add the truffle juice. Cover the foie gras with the boiling broth and set aside to poach in hot liquid for 2 to 3 minutes; it should still be rare.
  4. To serve, place a carrot, leek, turnip, and celery piece in each of six warmed bowls.
  5. Cover with the hot truffled broth. Divide the foie gras among the bowls. Garnish each portion of the foie gras with a pinch of gray sea salt, some chives, and a pinch of pepper mignonette. At the table, pass a small carafe of the red wine so your guests can pour 1 tablespoon each onto their bowls.


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© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.