1 whole goose, about 8-9 lbs.
2 small sweet onions
1 bay leaf
For the marinade:
1 cube frozen grated ginger (thawed)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
For the herbal rub:
8 juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon Australian pink salt
For the marinade, combine in a small dish: 1 cube frozen grated ginger (thawed), 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Set aside briefly.
Unwrap the goose. Remove giblets, reserving for gravy or stock. Pull off any big hunks of fat and save those for cooking. The big flap of skin from the neck can also be cut off and put with the stock fixings. Use kitchen shears to cut off the first two wing joints and save those for stock.
Rinse the goose inside and out; pat dry. Prick the skin all over using a knife or fork, so that the fat can escape.
Use a pastry brush to spread the marinade all over the goose. Wrap the goose in plastic or put it in a big dish, and leave it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Peel and quarter two small sweet onions; set aside briefly.
Take out the goose and rinse it briefly to get the vinegar off; don't obsess over getting every bit of spice off.
In a mortar and pestle, put 8 juniper berries and 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns. Grind those. Then add 1 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon Australian pink salt. Grind again, then stir to blend thoroughly. Rub this mixture all over the outside of the goose, and save a little to put inside the body cavity as well.
Stuff the onion quarters and a bay leaf into the body cavity of the goose. Close the skin flaps over the opening and secure with a toothpick or skewer. If the skin has a loop for the leg bones, poke the ends through that loop to secure the legs. Otherwise, tie the leg ends together with cotton cooking string.
Carefully lower the prepared goose onto the roasting rack, in the pan or the roasting oven. Cook for 30 minutes at 425ºF.
Reduce heat to 350ºF. Very carefully lift lid of roaster oven, tilting it away from you; or open oven and pull the pan out. Spoon or suction away the liquid fat in the bottom of the pan, reserving it for another use. Cover the roaster oven or return the goose to the regular oven. Cook the goose for a total of 15 minutes per pound (so 2 1/2 hours for 8 lbs). Remove fat every 30-60 minutes.
When done, skin should be crisp golden brown and juices should run clear. (It's okay if the meat is still pink in places.) Temperature in the thickest part of the meat should be 160ºF. Carefully transfer goose to a serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
To carve the goose, first slice off the wings. (Lay the wings on the platter and save them for stock; they're really tough. The onions aren't meant to be eaten, but if they're cooked through and people want them, then you can dig those out.) Next, slice off the legs and serve those. Finally, slice the breast meat and serve it. There will be a few other slivers you can pick off the carcass, if desired. If you save the carcass and other bones with any loose skin, you can get a second batch of stock from one goose!
Goose is a wonderful luxury food. It's all dark meat, and in America geese are not factory farmed but are kept as free-range livestock. The meat is chewier and richer than chicken, though similar to duck or turkey. There is a great deal of fat on a goose, which is highly valued for cooking potatoes or other foods, so save the fat. Skin, bones, and other scraps can be used for making stock. Giblets are good alone, or as gravy, or for stock.
All of the herbs for this recipe are "digestive" herbs. They aid digestion by helping the body break down fat and protein. If you have sprigs of fresh herbs, especially the rosemary or thyme, you can stuff a few into the body cavity too.
Frozen grated ginger is an oddity I often have on hand. Whenever we get fresh ginger root for a recipe, I grate all of it in a spice grinder and measure off the necessary amount. All the leftover ginger pulp gets packed into an ice cube tray and frozen, then the cubes go in a baggie until I need them. They're less hot than fresh ginger root, so if you use fresh, you only need maybe a quarter or a half teaspoon.
Fancy salts can add a lot to a recipe. If you don't have the Australian pink salt, which has a delicate mineral edge, you can use all sea salt. If you don't have sea salt, plain table salt is okay.
Green peppercorns have a more leafy flavor than black peppercorns, so they blend nicely with herbs. If you don't have green peppercorns, use black ones.
If you're worried about over-browning the goose, you can cover it with a tent of aluminum foil at the beginning or end of cooking.
Apparently goose makes a racket while cooking. I was startled and somewhat alarmed when, shortly after placed in the roaster oven, it sounded like popcorn! Pow-pow-pow! Then it quieted down. Later it made little explosions of fat, like small bombs going off. Bamf! Whoom! Kerpow! Perhaps not a food suitable for nervous people, but it was worth it, and the goose eventually ceased trying to blast its way out of the roaster oven.
This recipe was originally created for an Ostara Feast, early in spring, because ducks, geese, and chickens are associated with that holiday. Goose is also served at New Year, Midwinter/Christmas, and Michaelmas (Sept. 29). The side dishes help dress it up for each occasion -- salads and eggs in spring, squash and root vegetables in winter, or apples and stuffing in autumn.