Composition of goose meat, preparing for cooking, and recipes

Composition of goose meat

Goose meat has much more energy per kilogram than chicken meat, because it usually has twice as much fat in the total edible portion. Table 1 compares the average composition of goose meat and chicken.

Table 1. A comparison of the average composition of goose meat and chicken meat
Edible portion Species Water (%) Protein (%) Fat (%) Ash (%) Calories per 100 g
Including flesh, skin, giblets, fat Goose 51.0 16.4 31.5 0.9 349
Chicken 67.6 20.0 11.0 1.0 179
Flesh only Goose 68.3 22.3 7.1 1.1 153
Chicken 73.4 20.6 4.8 1.1 126

Preparing a goose for cooking

To draw a goose after plucking, remove the two oil glands at the base of the spine. Excise the vent and make a cross slit at this point. The entrails are covered in fat, and can easily be drawn by passing the hand between the lining of the body cavity and the fat.

Goose livers made into pâté de foie gras are regarded as a great delicacy and sell at high prices. Goose meat can be cured and smoked in the same way as chicken.

Before cooking the bird, remove the wishbone — or flatten the breastbone with a sharp blow — so that carving will be easier.


Roasting with a well-prepared stuffing is the most popular cooking method. A young bird is preferable, but an older bird which is first poached carefully for 1½ hours can then be roasted satisfactorily. Poach in a well-flavoured stock which just covers the bird. Wine or lemon juice added to the stock greatly improves the flavour of goose. During poaching, the bird can be stuffed loosely with potatoes, apples or carrots. This stuffing is then removed and is replaced, before the roasting process, with a stuffing suitable for serving.

Goose meat is rich in its own fat, so it should not be brushed with any other fat before cooking. Prick the skin to allow fat to escape, and remember to keep pouring off fat as it accumulates in the dish. Geese do not need to be covered or wrapped when being roasted, but some cooks prefer to cover the breast with foil, removing it for the last 45 minutes of cooking.

Cooking time is about 45 minutes per kilogram for a young bird and 55 minutes per kilogram for an older bird, using a moderate oven. Basting with fat is not necessary, but basting with fruit juice or red wine adds a gourmet flavour. If a crisp bird is preferred, the skin can be rubbed with well-seasoned flour or a mixture of flour and fine breadcrumbs. The skin is good eating only when hot — it becomes very tough when cold.

Carving will be easier if the heat is turned off when cooking is complete and the bird is left in the oven for 10–15 minutes.

Goose can be cooked in much the same way as other poultry — recipes for preparing and serving turkey are particularly suitable. Whether young or old, geese can be prepared in many delectable ways. Older birds are more suitable to the moister type of cooking and are excellent in ragouts, réchauffés and fricassees.

Herbs to complement the rich flavour of geese include basil, juniper, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme and bay leaves. The best garnishes for flavour and colour are celery, cumquats, lemons, oranges, limes, peaches, apricots and apples, and jellies such as cumquat, gooseberry and lime.

The average-sized goose of 4 kg will serve about eight people. This may appear to be a poor ratio, but the carcase is bulky, and a well-fed goose has a good deal of fat, which melts during cooking, giving the meat its characteristic taste and keeping it moist. (A gourmand of an earlier century said that a goose was too big for one and not enough for two!)

Basic stuffing

  • 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter and a little eggwhite to bind
  • salt and pepper
  • whole kernel corn, or rice (optional)

Sesame seed stuffing

  • 2 cups cubed bread, lightly toasted or baked
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds roasted in oven until lightly brown
  • 4 tablespoons chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in ¼ cup water

Combine ingredients. A little more water may be added, if required, to bind mixture — or an egg may be used if preferred.

Potato stuffing

  • 2 cups hot mashed potato
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion, shallots or chives
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 good pinches of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

Mix ingredients in order given.

Raisin nut stuffing

  • 2 cups dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • ½ cup chopped seedless raisins
  • ½ cup broken walnut pieces
  • ½ teaspoon sage or oregano
  • salt and pepper

Mix ingredients lightly together.

Apple and prune stuffing

  • 225 g stoned prunes, previously soaked for 30 minutes in cold tea
  • 6 apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 dessertspoon sugar
  • 2 chopped rashers of lean bacon
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper

Brown the apples, onion and bacon in butter. Add the other ingredients. Bind with water or egg.

Ragout of goose

This can be prepared from either uncooked or leftover cooked goose. Cooked meat should be cut into serving pieces; to use uncooked goose, cut required servings from bird. Simmer pieces until tender in a minimum of water to which has been added:

  • 1 onion stuck with 2 or 3 cloves
  • a sprig each of parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • a little salt.

Remove goose pieces to a heated casserole and keep hot. Strain the liquid, allow to cool slightly and skim off any fat.

Make a white sauce with ¼ cup melted butter and 2 tablespoons flour. Cook for 2 minutes (do not brown). Add 1½ cups of goose stock and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring. Add sufficient white vinegar or lemon juice to give the sauce a slightly sour taste, and 1 dessertspoon of white sugar. Adjust flavour with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over goose. Sprinkle with parsley or chopped chives. Serve with potato crisps or dried crisp toast fingers.

Réchauffé of goose with citrus

Cut leftover goose into small serving pieces. Heat, without boiling, in chicken broth (2 bouillon cubes to 1 cup water). To serve six, add:

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons red currant jelly (or any other tart jelly)
  • ½ cup seedless raisins which have been plumped by standing in orange juice

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve with glazed orange rings. Cut 1 centimetre slices of unpeeled orange. Drench with brown sugar. Place under griller until sugar bubbles and browns.

Roast goose with sauerkraut

  • 4 kg prepared goose
  • Stuffing:
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 2 tins sauerkraut
    • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • large potato, grated
    • breadcrumbs, if needed

Chop the onion and sauté in butter until lightly browned. Drain sauerkraut in colander, rinse under tap, and add to onion, with ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds (optional), ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ cup white wine. Bring to boiling point and add one large grated potato.

The stuffing should be dry and light. Add a few breadcrumbs if necessary. Stuff the cavity and prick the skin of the goose lightly. Place on rack in dish and roast in a moderately hot oven (190°C). Allow 20–25 minutes for each half kilogram, depending on the age of the bird.

Baste with the liquid which forms in the dish, but remove fat from the top as it forms.

To serve, remove stuffing to hot serving dish, then carve the goose and place pieces on top of stuffing. Add a border of creamed potatoes. After skimming the fat off the gravy, pour the gravy over the goose or serve it separately. Do not thicken it with flour.