Freshly hunted and plucked goose, marinated in pomegranate molasses, garlic, juniper berries and herbs and roasted to perfection. A Christmas Goose recipe Charles Dickens would envy!
We are a lucky family to have a 4th generation waterman and hunter in our family. My brother in law, Captain Alan Poore from the eastern shores of Maryland, spoils our family with oysters, crabs, (other sea creatures), and then duck, geese and venison.
While he does all the hard work it takes to bring these delicacies to my sister, there is still a bit more culinary work to do in the kitchen once they arrive.
There is something totally ‘wholesome’ to me about eating ‘real’ food. Food we have had our hand in bringing to the table: water, livestock or an abundance of gardens, hydroponics included.
But… if the grocery store is as close to real as we can get, we still need to do a few creative, traditional or tried-and-true preparations in our kitchen with these prize products we bring into our home.
Preparing Goose For Cooking
There are about as many ways to prepare a goose for cooking as there are preparing any other meat you cook.
Many like to brine meat in salt/sugar water solution, simply because it is believed that it equalizes the salt levels in the meat, raising the liquid content so when the meat hits the heat, less moisture is lost, which means juicier meat.
There is also the concept of soaking meat in buttermilk to tenderize it, based on the high acidity levels in the buttermilk (higher than in regular milk), which is believed to keep it moist and juicy.
As for me… I have devised my own marinate for tenderizing meat, especially a gamey goose. Pomegranate molasses with lemon, garlic, herbs and salt.
Mediterranean Approach To Cooking Meat
Meat, that is said to taste ‘gamey,’ is best prepared in a variety of Mediterranean styles. After all, no one cooks lamb or goat better than in the regions of the Mediterranean.
It surprises me how often I hear Americans say that lamb tastes gamey to them. Yet, when my Syrian mom made lamb for her American mother in law from a Nordic heritage (ie. boiled veggies and only cooked meat with salt and pepper), she couldn’t believe it was lamb. Why? Mediterranean techniques!
So, I am not going to roast this gorgeous goose the way it’s done in England (as my British hubby grew up with, or even Gordon Ramsey, who BTW cooks with French techniques ie Mediterranean), I will prepare this goose with Mediterranean flavors and YOU are going to love it!
Pomegranate Molasses To Tenderize Meat
I like using the acidity of pomegranate juice, which has about the same acidic level as buttermilk. perhaps a little less. Although, when sugar is added to the juice, it changes the acidic level making it the same as buttermilk.
If you have found Pomegranate Molasses, purchased often in a Middle Eastern market, to be expensive, it is easily made at home. It’s simply; pomegranate juice and sugar boiled down until it is reduced to a molasses.
Pomegranate molasses has the sugar levels that equate it to buttermilk but with so much more flavor. Jazz the molasses up and you’ve got the best marinate to both tenderize and flavor this wild goose.
Roasting vs Baking
When we think of roasting, or at least I do, we think of an open wood burning fire. Heat. High heat is what roasts meat best. Roasting alone, though, can dry the meat out.
What we want, in keeping juices inside of the meat, is to ‘quick sear’ the skin or outer flesh with high heat, forming a quick crust (or singe the fat), around the flesh. This locks in the juices and flavor of the meat while it cooks inside.
After about ten minutes of high heat, like 450-500, the heat gets turned down, the meat tented to keep the steam and moist from escaping. The meat then cooks at a lower temperature until desired doneness is obtained.
Baking meat is not a good idea, unless the meat is being baked in a bath (liquid of some sort), or wrapped inside of something to keep the moisture inside, such as pastry or bacon.
Having grown up in a Mediterranean influenced home, lemon is often the juice added to so many of the recipes we cook with.
Lemons are the base in most Salad Dressings instead of vinegar. They are used to marinate meat, flavor savory dishes and desserts.
Pomegranate is an unusual fruit in that it can be as tart and acidic in flavor as a lemon and yet somehow sweet, in an earthy kind of way.
Pomegranate juice is ideal for both sweet or savory dishes, which is why I often swap our my lemon salad dressing for Pomegranate Salad dressing. The acidic levels in pomegranate juice help to tenderize meat while imparting a flavor that is subtle and earthy.
Where I live, in Maryland, the sound of geese honking overhead, indicates to me that autumn has arrived and winter is close behind.
While I don’t hunt (heaven help us if I did!), I will admit my first goose was purchased at the grocery store around the holiday season of November and December.
I was in want of a beautiful, gourmet goose for Christmas. It was a risk, but one I was willing to take. A risk? I had never cooked one!
Once that big ole goose was ready to be sliced and I saw how outstanding the meat looked, smelled and tasted, I then understood why it was to be revered as the gourmet goose from then on.
The color of the meat was somewhere a cross between a roast beef and a roasted pork. The flavor was a cross between the dark meat of turkey and the breast of duck. It was truly a showstopper and worth the work and cost. Yes, they are expensive. Make friends with a hunter!
How To Roast Goose
Like any gourmet cut of meat you want to showcase, there is prep work. The marinade I made of pomegranate molasses, herbs, juniper berry, coarse salt, lots of garlic and lemon juice is what the goose bathed in overnight in my fridge.
In a high temperature oven of about 450 degrees, the goose goes in for about 10-minutes. This will sear in the juices of the meat while roasting.
The oven gets lowered to about 325, the goose covered or tented, and the bird will roast for about an hour and a half, depending on its weight. This one was about 6-7 pounds.
Internal temperature should register 165. Allow the goose to rest, still covered, outside the oven for about 30-minutes before carving and serving.
Don’t forget to boil all those bones and any remaining carcass for an amazing stock. Once that stock cools, don’t forget to skim off the goose fat, reserve separately and use for future cooking needs.
- Fresh herbs – rosemary, oregano and thyme
- Juniper berries
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Pomegranate Molasses
- Coarse salt
- Coarse pepper
- Food processor or blender
- Sharp knife
- Roasting pan
- Meat thermometer
Mediterranean Pomegranate Roast Goose RecipeCourse: MeatCuisine: Mediterranean
Marinated in pomegranate molasses, garlic, juniper berries and herbs and roasted to perfection.
Goose – 6-7 lbs
A bundle of fresh herbs – rosemary, oregano, and thyme
Juniper berries – 1 tsp, whole berries
Garlic – 2 cloves
Lemon juice – 1 whole lemon
Olive oil – ¼ cup
Pomegranate Molasses – ¼ cup
Coarse salt – 2 tablespoons
Coarse pepper – 1 tablespoon
- Puree the herbs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, juniper berries, pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.
- Score the skin of the goose, making cuts in the skin. (See video) Rub the marinade into the skin and cavity of the goose. Cover and marinate in the fridge over-night.
- Remove the goose from the fridge for an hour to get room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Place the goose uncovered in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 325, cover the goose, or tent with foil and roast until the internal temperature is at lease 165. About an hour and half for a 6-7 pound bird.
- Rest goose 30 minutes before carving.