Whereas the Crachits could hardly have contained their excitement at Scrooge’s gift of a large prize turkey, they would have been just fine with the lackluster Christmas goose – unlike in America, goose has been the norm for the Europeans, especially before the 16th century.
Times have changed, of course, and Americans interested in procuring a goose for the holiday table this Dec. 25 would be hard-pressed to find a goose for the silver platter.
There are reasons for the scarcity of goose meat, the first, and major, reason being the small scale of demand in America – a market that chicken and turkey have cornered for years.
The adamant gourmand in search of a goose feast this Christmas needn’t give up, however. There are ways to snag a gander. (Well, that said, goose hunting would be a fairly convenient means.)
For the non-hunter, the market remains slightly harder to reach, due to the lack of game meats like goose available at major chain supermarkets. Check with your local grocery market to see if it stocks goose during the Christmas season (some stores stock their shelves right before Christmas week).
Fortunately, there are area farms that cater to the tiny market for holiday season goose, in addition to several major suppliers in the United States that work with local, sustainable farms to sell their wares nationwide.
The key to finding a local goose is finding the right farm. The “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaign web site (www.buylocalvirginia.org), organized by the Piedmont County Enviromental Council, which aims to improve consumers’ ability to buy local Virginian food, offers a listing of farms just outside of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, where goose meat may be available.
If the process of finding a local vendor becomes too laborious for the prospective goose shopper, Schiltz Goose Farms, one of the nation’s largest goose meat suppliers, which has an online shop as well (www.roastgoose.com), offers whole goose breasts that run anywhere between $38 – 64, depending on weight and shipping.
For the more demanding palates that requires fresh meat, Heritage Foods (www.heritagefoodsusa.com) is one of the nation’s purveyors of fresh, wholesome, meats taken from regional, small family farms. Heritage provides customers with a choice of higher-end goose meat (the African Brown Goose, to be exact) for $172.00. Taste, it seems, comes with a price.
Notwithstanding the heftier price tag, there’s not much of a difference between Heritage meats or any other, if the goose is not cooked properly. The culinary art of preparing the Christmas goose is not your average poultry case.
For one thing, unlike leaner poultry meats such as chicken or turkey, goose is a richer, darker meat with a fattier skin, which helps set goose meat apart from duck.
As a result, the process of draining the fat becomes a major, if not the chief concern of the holiday chef.
Following these two crucial steps will ensure that the plump Christmas goose will have crispy skin and will be juicy inside:
Cut off the Fat.
After removing the giblets and neck, cut away as much of the fat as possible around the goose. It won’t be possible to drain all of the fat at the beginning. Before inserting into the oven, pierce the skin of the goose all over with a fork or knife, which will allow the fat to drain during the cooking process. Season the bird to your liking, too.
Drain the Fat.
While the goose sits in the oven, remove the goose every 30 minutes or so and drain the fat that has collected in the pan. This will ensure less mess at the end.
There are a variety of recipes online for preparing goose, from game meat web sites (like www.gameandfishrecipes.com) and directly from the goose suppliers such as the ones named in this article.