You Gotta Sous-Vid Goose This Christmas
Hello friends and welcome back toWill It Sous Vide? , the column where I usually do whatever you want with my immersion circulator. Today we are making a Christmas goose, and let me tell you, this goose is cool .
Based on Christmas carols and fairy tales, the goose may seem like the canon bird of the holidays, but you won’t see it on many tables on December 25th. Now things are changing because I announce that the goose is back and declare it the official eater of the holidays (not @ me). To be honest, I’ve never cooked (or eaten) a goose before, and it seems to me that the world is hiding a big culinary secret from me.
Having never danced with this large waterfowl before, I considered having the butcher cut it for me, but gave it up as I concluded that removing meat from dead animals was a strange catharsis. I thought it would be like butchering a turkey, but in reality it was more like a huge slippery duck.
The main difference between a goose and a turkey is that goose is solid dark meat – these breasts require training because, unlike lazy turkeys, geese fly well – and that they have almost no hips. At first I assumed that the lack of meat on the thighs was my fault – because that’s the case – but a little Google search convinced me that I hadn’t disappeared them; they just weren’t visible to begin with.
Anyway. After removing the bones from my legs and chest, I massaged them a little. If you want to use this rub, you will need:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
- Zest of 4 lemons and 3 limes
I started with the legs as they take longer to cook and treated them the same way as the turkey and duck legs in front of them. (For clarity, make French legs by cutting the skin and tendons at the tip of the leg bone.) I didn’t add any extra fat to the back — the geese don’t need it — but I cooked them at two different temperatures. While I have always believed that chicken legs should be cooked until at least 165 for all that connective tissue to break down and gelatinize, I noticed on Thanksgiving that several restaurants cook their turkey legs at 155 ℉ for 24 hours. I am nothing more than an experiment, so I did one leg at 170 ℉ for 12 hours and one at 155 for 24 hours.
Once each leg was out of the tub, I sautéed it in a non-stick skillet (no extra fat).
Both legs had excellent taste, juicy meat was separated from the bone after a slight tug with a fork. The texture on both legs was excellent, but the 24 hour mode at 155 degrees was just a little more melt in the mouth. The 12 o’clock meat had a slightly more palatable texture – if you squinted up – but still remained juicy.
Now about the chest. Here I again used two slightly different methods, although I cooked both of them at the same temperature (135 ℉ for 2 hours). Whenever I hear people talk about cooking geese, it seems like they are struggling with very oily skin. I don’t mind oily breasts, but this subcutaneous layer is quite thick, even by my measurements. For comparison and contrast, I decided to leave the skin on one breast and remove the other and make it crispy like in the Food Lab here with turkey . Peeling the skin off is pretty simple, you need a sharp, thin blade and a little patience. The main thing is not to cut the meat or skin, but this thin fabric that hangs between them.
After peeling off one breast, I seasoned them with both rubbing on top, only this time I added a tablespoon of brown sugar, a couple of thyme sprigs, and a few sage leaves. I also dropped a sprig of rosemary in each bag.
As for the skins, I decided to cook them like bacon. I put the cooling rack on a baking sheet (to collect this delicious goose fat), lightly salt the skin, and spread it over the wire rack. I cooked it at 300 ℉ for about half an hour and watched in amazement as the fat flowed freely from the skin. (If you don’t want your skin to curl at all, you can cover it with a piece of parchment and a baking sheet. However, this will increase the cooking time, and I found it doesn’t curl too much. The temperature is rather low.)
Then both breasts were immersed in a hot bath, and after a couple of hours they could be burned.
In fact, all I had to do was burn my chest, and I have to say that I am not mad at how it turned out. As you can see, the skin did not become crispy all over, but the remaining oily part was soft and supple, which only needed to be chewed a little. I liked it, but I love to chew fat in every sense of the word.
But meat, my children; the meat was a star. If I had to describe the taste – and I do it because this is my literal job – I would say that a goose is a cross between duck and venison, with the texture of a steak. In fact, if you passed it on to someone blindly, they would probably think “hoofed mammal” in front of “angry bird.”
The skinless breast meat was just as juicy. Initially, I planned to throw a couple of tablespoons of fat into the bag with it, but I forgot and I can’t say that it was overlooked. I decided to quickly fry it in the fat left by the breast in the pan, which gave it a very tender, slightly caramelized crust of seasoning and sugar. I poured a sauce of hoisin, honey, lemon and lime juice and served it (to me!) With wonderfully crispy goose rinds. It was very gratifying.
If you’re scared of losing all that precious goose fat, don’t worry. After pouring the liquid contents of the sous-vide bags into the soup container, the fat is easily separated. I even set aside a bag of grease and leather scraps solely to get this lubricant, and the move was hailed as “really very smart.”
It seems pretty obvious that the goose is going to be sous-vide, but how exactly you decide to do this is up to you. Sinking lower and slower with your legs will give you smoother meat, but 12 o’clock legs with a 170-degree slope are only slightly less impressive. When it comes to breasts, it’s just a matter of choosing how you like your skin. I liked both, although there is something unique about the chicharrone goose. For goose sous-vide, there is no wrong answer, just delicious, delicious results.