Roast goose is a reason to celebrate and here?s a splendid Alsatian recipe in which the bird is basted with beer so the skin darkens and the gravy toasts to a deep caramel. Whole apples cooked in the cavity add unexpected flavor and emerge tasty and hot, ready to serve with the accompanying rutabagas and Brussels sprouts. I look for a goose with creamy white skin and plump breast meat that almost conceals the breast bone. Even then, a 10-pound/4.5-kilogram bird only serves 6 people. In compensation, a goose renders quantities of superb fat for frying potatoes.

Serves 5 to 6

  • One 9- to 10-pound/4.5-kilogram goose
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tart apples (about 2 pounds/900 grams total)
  • 1 cup/250 milliliters/8 fluid ounces dark beer
  • 1 1/2 pounds/675 grams rutabagas
  • 1 1/2 pounds/675 grams Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons/30 grams/1 ounce butter

Gravy

  • 1 cup/250 milliliters/8 fluid ounces medium dry white wine
  • 2 cups/500 milliliters/16 fluid ounces chicken broth
  • Thin string for trussing; large roasting pan

Heat the oven to 450°F/230°C/Gas 8. Wipe the inside of the goose with paper towels and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Peel and core the apples, leaving them whole, put them inside the bird, and truss it.  Put the goose on a rack in the roasting pan and pour over the beer, rubbing it well into the skin.

Roast the goose until it starts to brown, about 40 minutes. Prick the skin to release the fat underneath it, then turn the bird breast downwards and baste it. Lower the heat to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 and continue roasting about another hour, basting often. Generous amounts of fat will accumulate in the bottom of the pan. Finally turn the goose once more, breast up. Continue roasting and basting until the bird is very brown, the meat pulls away from the drumstick, and juices run clear when you prick the thigh with a skewer, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours longer. A meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should register 165°F/74°C. If the skin starts to brown too much during cooking, cover the goose loosely with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable garnish. Peel the rutabagas and cut them in 3/4-inch/2-centimeter chunks. Put them in cold salted water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set them aside. Trim the Brussels sprouts and halve them if large. Cook them, uncovered, in boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set them aside.

When the goose is cooked, spread it with the butter and turn the oven heat back up to 450°F/230°C/Gas 8. Set the bird on a piece of foil on a baking sheet and put it back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the skin. Remove it, set it on a large platter, and cover it loosely with foil. Set it aside while heating the vegetables and making the gravy: Heat about 4 tablespoons/60 grams/2 ounces reserved goose fat from the roasting pan in a large frying pan. Add the vegetables with a little salt and pepper and sauté them briskly over medium heat until lightly browned. Spoon them around the goose and continue keeping it warm.

To make gravy, pour all but 2 tablespoons fat from the roasting pan (keep the fat for another use). Add the wine, bring it to a boil on top of the stove and simmer, stirring constantly to dissolve pan juices, until reduced by at least half. Add the broth, and simmer the gravy until well-flavored and concentrated, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste it, adjust the seasoning, and strain it into a bowl to serve separately from the goose. Carve the bird at the table, spooning the apples from the inside like stuffing.

photo by France Ruffenach
Excerpted from THE COUNTRY COOKING OF FRANCE
by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.