No, it does not taste like chicken. But at Christmastime, goose has one thing on its side: tradition.
Goose was a featured dish at the Victorian Christmas table, famously celebrated in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. And though Hanukkah is over, it should be noted, that goose was also favored at the holiday table for many generations of Eastern European Jews. The goose clearly deserves status as a favorite among many holiday traditions.
But Americans seem to have lost their taste for goose -- if they ever one to begin with.
Average yearly per capita consumption of goose in the U.S. is in the neighborhood of one-third of a pound. Compare that with the 87 pounds of chicken the average American eats in a year. They are indeed birds of a different feather.
Although goose is considered a white meat, its breast meat appears darker than chicken or turkey breast, with a stronger flavor. That's because geese fly, developing their breast muscles, while chickens and turkeys tend to keep to the ground and don't exercise their wings.
Because geese enjoy the water but also need to stay warm, they develop a layer of fat under the skin. The meat itself is not marbled with fat, as it is in beef, so that it is easy to remove the fat before cooking. Even though goose has more calories than chicken, its fat and cholesterol levels are similar to that of chicken breast or canned salmon, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
So, if you're game to serve a traditional feast this Christmas, here's one way to prepare a goose for the dinner table, courtesy of the USDA.
Roast Goose with Fruit Stuffing
1 thawed, raw goose (12-14 pounds)
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
8 cups day-old bread cubes
3 cups chopped, unpared apples
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon thyme or sage
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large pan, cook celery and onion in butter until tender, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add bread cubes, apples, raisins and seasonings. Set aside.
Remove neck and giblets from goose. Remove excess fat from body cavity and neck skin, and discard. Pat goose dry with paper towels. Wings may be removed at second joint and cooked later, or leave wings attached and bend them to the back.
Fill neck and body cavities with prepared fruit stuffing mixture.
Fold neck skin to back and turn under, covering opening (you may fasten with skewers or toothpicks.) Tie legs together or tuck in band of skin in tail, if present.
Place goose, breast side up, on rack in large pan. Insert meat thermometer deep into thigh muscle, not touching bone.
Roast uncovered for 1 hour at 400 degrees.
Reduce temperature to 325 and continue roasting for 2 to 2 1/2 hours -- until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees.
During roasting, spoon off and discard accumulated fat at 30-minute intervals.
When roasting is complete, remove goose to a platter and allow to stand 20 minutes for easier carving.
(The giblets -- and wing sections -- may be used to make gravy or soup. Cook all but the liver in water to cover with onion celery and other seasonings. Simmer for one hour, then add the liver and cook for another 10 minutes.)
One thing the Christmas goose has in common with the Thanksgiving turkey is leftovers. As with any poultry product, the leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as possible.
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