My Goose is Cooked!

The other day at my local supermarket, I caused quite the stir when I purchased a frozen goose.

Canada goose, John J. Audubon, 1838

“Is that a goose??” said the gal at the check-out counter, causing all the other shoppers waiting in nearby lanes to crane their necks as the frozen beast made its way forward on the conveyer belt. In California, you’re hard-pressed to find anything goose-related amidst the quinoa, skinless chicken breasts and tempeh. “Hey Esmerelda, look — a goose!”

Esmerelda, the manager, climbed down from her managerial station to come in for a look.

“I didn’t even know we carried geese!” she said.

“Do you even know what to do with a goose??” the check-out gal queried me while her colleagues looked on.

“Yes,” I replied defensively, without offering any further elaboration.

I normally draw the line at ducks. Geese tend to be expensive, huge and unavailable. Indeed, this particular specimen was $70 — although what caught my eye was the 50%-off sticker, which brought the price down to $35, which I could work into a defensible dollar-per-pound argument should my wife call me on it.

Simmering duck stock for demi glace

Back at home with my new friend, I got out my poultry shears — a useful tool I pilfered from my sister’s cupboard (“Do you use these??” I asked the skinny mostly vegetarian ex-yoga teacher with whom I share a mother. “Oh heavens no,” she replied, “I don’t even know what those are for! They were a wedding gift.” “Can I have ’em?” I said.) — and set to work.

Now you, dear friends, at home — much like the bewildered multitude at the supermarket — would be well within reason to wonder exactly what I was going to do with this massive, antediluvian relative of the dinosaur. I would be making three of the pillars of French cooking, and three of the most delicious ingredients on earth — confit d’oie (goose confit), demi glace, and goose fat. (With a bonus country goose liver pâté.)

The poultry shears proved inadequate to the task of carving up the half-frozen 12-pound avian (some of those leg bones rival a cow’s!). But after much greasy wrestling, sawing, chopping Chinese-restaurant-style with a big cleaver, twisting and cursing, I had my carved up goose. It wasn’t pretty, but it was done.

Goose liver paté

The grisly work finished, I could begin the fun part. I salted and brined the breasts and legs for confit (note: when making confit duck or chicken, I typically use only the dark meat, as the breasts of both birds are better put to other uses. But goose breast is nearly as dark as the leg meat, and cooks up well as a confit.), placed strips of fat and skin into the oven to slowly render the silky oil, and stuffed the carcass and wings into a large pot with water, onion, bay leaf and carrot to begin the long process of extracting, reducing down and focusing every last drop of flavor those bits of bone and meat had to offer.

Was it worth the expense — even at half-off — and all the work? Immediately afterward, I am never sure. But when, over the ensuing months, I stir a few tablespoons of demi-glaze into a sauce, or fry some potatoes in goose fat, or smooth a knife-full of confit rillettes onto a freshly baked baguette, I am richly rewarded and issue a resounding “Yes!” into the universe.

I won’t bother sharing any recipes — what, do you really think you are going to buy a goose and carve it up?!?? Come over, I’ll share…

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andy
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 01:44:04

    You are so cute.


  2. Michelle
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 02:54:22

    “Can I have ’em?” Too funny. And bravo on the goose. In France last month, I bought a chicken from a local vendor and asked if she also had some magret. Oh, oui, she said, and put something in the bag. When I got home and pulled it out I realized, good lord, this breast is gigantic and saw the “oie” instead of “canard” on the label. Actually, with just a little extra cooking time, it turned out to be delicious.


    • scolgin
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 03:37:46

      You are my soul sister in gooseyness. Did I mention I have France envy??? (I know, I know… Mexico…)


  3. pal-O
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 04:01:59

    Goose is my favorite poultry & I keep the rendered white gold in my freezer. I’ve always just roasted them but I’d be willing to follow your path.


  4. Marie -Michelle Hewett
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 06:15:59

    Still at our farmhouse in the home of cassoulet, foie-gras and all things duck, more duck and if you really like it…. more duck! magrets, confits, smoked gesiers for salad, fritons and the like! I have roasted a goose for Christmas on several occasions instead of the somewhat bland turkey, always delicious. As I am writing this, I am looking at the wonderful recipe which I will no doubt modify a bit for tomorrow’s lunch with guests, locally grown chicken, poulet fernier, stuffed with a farce of coquillettes (small pasta macaroni elbows) and foie gras. Your blog is always inspiring and fun, thanks for sharing.


  5. aanvil
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 07:53:56

    My favorite part is when I read this… I hear your voice. 🙂

    The poultry shears… Good snag. lol


  6. g
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 02:26:57

    We cooked a goose a couple of years ago. I wrote about it.

    They’re bony and they have surprisingly little meat on them, for their size. But still — the goose fat is divine!! (Hmmm…..I think I gave you guys a jar of it, didn’t i?)


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