Christmas Goose with Apple-Plum Compote

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 100 minutes
Servings: 6

Roast goose is the traditional bird on many Christmas tables. A goose does not yield as much meat as a turkey or capon of equal weight, but it does yield a generous amount of goose fat, which is prized for sautéing potatoes, sausages and other foods. If you can find only a frozen goose, you will need to allow 2 days for thawing it in the refrigerator. The breast meat tends to dry out during roasting, so brining the bird for 24 hours helps keep it moist and succulent. The dried-fruit compote perfectly complements the rich dark meat of the goose and is also good with roasted pork or quail.


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 young goose, about 10 lb. (5 kg), with giblets
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tart green apple, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped

For the compote:

  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups (4 oz./125 g) dried apple rings
  • 2/3 cup (4 oz./125 g) dried plums
  • 1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g) pitted dried tart cherries
  • 1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g) golden raisins
  • 1 large strip orange peel, stuck with 2 whole cloves
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) apple juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch, if needed

For the sauce:

  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a large container about 3 inches (7.5 cm) taller and a little wider than the goose, combine the salt, sugar and 6 cups (48 fl. oz./1.5 l) room-temperature water. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the juniper berries, peppercorns and cinnamon stick and stir well.

Remove the giblets and neck from the goose cavity; reserve the liver for another use or discard. Reserve the neck, gizzard and heart for the roasting pan. Remove any pockets of fat from the cavity and render for another use or discard. Trim the neck skin, leaving just enough to fold over and skewer. Immerse the goose, breast side down, in the brine. If needed, invert a small plate on top of the goose to keep it submerged. Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Remove the goose from the brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Place a V-shaped roasting rack in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the goose.

Holding the blade of a sharp knife almost parallel to the skin, make small slits over the breast and thighs; do not cut into the meat. Season the cavity with pepper and place the apple and onion in the cavity. Place 3 metal trussing or poultry pins through the skin from one side of the cavity to the opposite side, making sure they are parallel and evenly spaced. Lace a piece of kitchen string around the pins, as if lacing a shoe, pulling it tight to close the cavity. Knot the string and trim any excess. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Tuck the wing tips under the back and tie a piece of kitchen string around the breast and wings. Transfer the goose, breast side up, to the rack. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) water to a boil and pour it into the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the giblets and neck. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Transfer the pan to the oven and steam-roast for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and, using a small ladle, baste the goose with the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Continue to roast the goose uncovered, basting occasionally with the liquid, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from the bone, registers 170°F (77°C). If the goose is getting too brown, cover the breast with foil.

Meanwhile, make the fruit compote: In a small fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and sauté until very soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. In a large saucepan, combine the shallot, apples, plums, cherries, raisins, orange peel, orange juice, ginger, mustard, cinnamon and apple juice. There should be enough liquid to cover the fruit by about 1/2 inch (12 mm). Set over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the fruit is plumped and softened, 20 to 25 minutes. If there is a lot of unabsorbed liquid, in a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 1 Tbs. water, then stir the mixture into the fruit a little at a time and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

When the goose is done, transfer it to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

While the goose is resting, make the sauce: Strain the contents of the roasting pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan. Spoon off as much fat as possible and reserve for another use or discard. Add the broth and vermouth to the pan, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to about 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml), about 6 minutes. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 2 Tbs. water and add to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Carve the goose, cutting the thighs from the drumsticks and slicing the meat from each thigh. Arrange the goose on a warmed platter, serving as much of the crisp skin as possible. Serve the compote at room temperature or reheat gently. Pass the sauce at the table. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard, Bob & Coleen Simmons, Tori Ritchie and Amanda Haas (Oxmoor House, 2009).

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