Goose was so important in the Victorian-era people would save — and save — for the big day, often joining the equivalent of modern-day Christmas club accounts to afford a plump, juicy bird.
And because many families didn’t have ovens at home, they would cook their birds at bakers’ shops.
Dickens himself captured the anticipation when he described Mrs. Cratchit plunging the knife into the breast.
“One murmur of delight arose all around the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried, Hurrah!'”
When shopping for your own goose, plan for about 1-1/2 to 2 pound raw weight per serving. Geese are incredibly fatty birds and will shrink considerably during roasting.
For that reason, during roasting it is a good idea to periodically check the level of rendered fat in the roasting pan. If it is getting to high, use a basting bulb to remove some.
Start to finish: 3 hours (30 minutes active)
Servings: 4 to 6
3 tablespoons cracked mixed black, white and green peppercorns
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon chopped garlic Salt 7- to 10-pound goose, cleaned Ground black pepper 1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heat the oven to 375 F.
To prepare the glaze, in a small bowl mix together the peppercorns, 2 tablespoons of the thyme leaves, the olive oil and garlic. Season with salt, then set aside.
Season with outside and cavity of the goose with salt and pepper. Brush the glaze over the outside of the goose, reserving any extra for basting during cooking.
Arrange the onion, carrots and celery in a roasting pan. Set the goose on top of the vegetables. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting occasionally with drippings and any remaining glaze.
The goose is done when it is golden brown and crispy, the juice from the cavity runs clear, and an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the breast and innermost part of the thigh reads at least 165 F.
Cover the goose with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Pour the pan drippings through a mesh strainer and into a fat separator. Discard the fat, or reserve it for another use.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the butter and pan juices. Chop the remaining 1 tablespoon of thyme, then add that. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carve the goose and serve with the pan sauce.
Recipe from Charlie Trotter’s “Home Cooking with Charlie Trotter,” Ten Speed Press, 2008.