Make a note of the weight of your bird so that you can calculate the roasting time of one hour plus 35 minutes per kilo.
Remove the string that holds the legs close to the body. Remove the bag of giblets and any large pieces of fat that have been tucked inside the bird. Use the giblets to make gravy.
Stuff the bird. Our favourite stuffing for goose is relatively light, with apricots and citrus. See the recipe below. Some people prick the skin at this point, under the wing, the sides of the breast and by the parson’s nose, in order to release the fat droplets more readily during roasting.
Sprinkle the prepared and stuffed bird with salt and lay it on its side, on a trivet (if you have one), in a large roasting pan. Lay a large piece of reserved goose fat, or two tablespoons of butter on top. Cover it with a generous, double layer of aluminium foil. Roast at 200°C (gas mark 6) for the first hour.
Turn the bird over onto its other side, baste well and pour off some of the melted fat into a bowl. Lower the heat to 190°C (gas mark 5). Allow 35 to 40 minutes per kilo. Baste it and drain some more fat off every 30 minutes.
For the last 30 minutes of cooking, turn the bird with its breast uppermost and remove the foil so that the skin can become crisp and golden. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven, lift the bird from the roasting pan and lightly cover the cooked bird with the foil. Leave it to rest for 20 minutes before you carve it..
Use the remaining juices, plus the stock from the giblets, to make gravy.
If the roasting pan is drying out and turning dark brown, add a cupful of hot water to the juices.
When the goose is cooked the legs should move up and down quite easily. To check, release one leg with knife then press it out and down. If it breaks away easily, it’s cooked.
An alternative way of timing it is to roast the bird in a moderate over, at 180°C (gas mark 4) throughout, allowing one hour per kilo. This is a more forgiving method, requiring less attention, and it’s the one we use in a wood-fired oven in which the temperature can’t be adjusted instantly.
50 g butter or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
the zest and juice of 1 orange
150 g dried apricots, finely chopped
400 g fresh breadcrumbs (sourdough is best)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and a generous pinch of black pepper
a generous tablespoon of mixed herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley
Melt the butter or oil and cook the onion until it is soft. Add the apple and apricots, breadcrumbs, orange zest, herbs and seasoning. Add the orange juice with enough lukewarm water to bind the stuffing very loosely together. It is better a little dry and crumbly than mushy.