Sage and Thyme Roasted Goose


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves: about


Appears in

Rose's Celebrations

Rose's Celebrations

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 1992

  • About

Goose, although not quite as tender as other fowl, more than makes up for it with its incomparable rich flavor—and the bonus of the best fat for cooking you will ever come by. I usually associate goose with a Dickensian Christmas, or at least cold weather time, but actually the best goose I ever had was one summer when my friends Gus and Barbara of Pine Hill Farms in New Jersey accidentally came by a baby goose, weighing less than five pounds. I think it was run over by a car; it reminded me of years before, when I was living in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, and my car hit a pheasant when I was on my way to work one morning. I took off after it, willingly skipping work, but never did catch a second glimpse of it. Probably just as well too; I would have had no idea (city girl that I was) what to do with poultry that didn’t come cleaned and wrapped.

Barbara called me that summer afternoon, saying. “You take this goose; I don’t know what to do with it.” I offered to give her cooking instructions but she said, “Never mind; it’s all yours.” We had been about to leave for a trip, but given this windfall, Elliott agreed to postpone the departure by several hours.

Since it was the end of summer, and the garden was full of thyme and sage, I took large bunches of each and stuffed the cavity of the goose. Perhaps because the goose was so young and free range (actually wild), there was hardly any fat, and the herbs thoroughly permeated the flesh. The texture and flavor were extraordinary. I now use this same method for roasting larger geese. It’s not quite the same but it is still quite wonderful.

Two hours before roasting, remove the goose from the refrigerator.
volume ounces/pounds grams/kilograms
1 goose 10 to 12 pounds 4 kilograms, 536 grams to 5 kilograms, 443 grams
kosher salt* teaspoons 0.3 ounce 9 grams
pepper, freshly ground several grindings
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally 2.5 ounces 75 grams
2 large bunches thyme 2 ounces 56 grams
1 large bunch sage 1 ounce 28 grams

*If using Morton’s kosher salt or table salt, use ¾ teaspoon.


If the goose is frozen, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for 2 to 2½ days. My cousin Richard, a chemist, once thawed a turkey with two cycles in a dishwasher. This was before microwave defrosting, but probably a lot more even.

Remove all loose fat from the cavity and discard it or render it for future use (see Note). Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and, if desired, simmer them for 2 to 3 hours with the beef broth for the Salt and Pepper Wild Rice to enrich the broth. (Poach the liver in the broth for about 5 to 10 minutes as a special treat for the cook.)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Prick the goose all over, being careful not to go deeper than the fat layer. Sprinkle it inside and out with the salt and pepper. Place the garlic, thyme and sage in the cavity. Place the goose on the rack in the pan and tuck the wings back under the back. Pour ½ cup boiling water over the goose.

Roast for 30 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven (close the door so the heat does not escape). Drain off the fat and pour over another ½ cup of boiling water. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Drain and douse with boiling water. Reduce the oven heat to 325°F. and continue roasting for another 1 to 2 hours, draining the fat and dousing the goose with boiling water every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh, not touching the bone, reads 175°F. to 180°F. When tilted tailward, the juices should run dark brown, not rosy. The temperature will rise about 5 degrees on sitting.

Allow the goose to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Return the thighs to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. If desired, turn up the heat to 400F. and roast the back section to crisp the skin. Garnish with seasonal fruits and herbs. After presenting the goose at the table, return it to the kitchen for carving. (It is difficult to carve a goose gracefully as the joints do not separate easily.)

NOTE: To render goose fat, process it in a food processor (or chop with a sharp heavy knife) into small pieces and place in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Add ¼ cup of water and cover tightly. Cook on the lowest possible heat for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the fat is rendered, leaving only small golden bits. Stir a few times during the cooking to prevent overbrowning which would give it an off flavor. The melted fat will keep refrigerated for several months and frozen for several years.