How to Make the Perfect Christmas Goose

A whitefront or specklebelly goose easily feeds four people and has the perfectly sweet flavor for a Christmas dinner

How to Make the Perfect Christmas Goose
This recipe acknowledges the magical meat and fruit pairing of goose and cranberries. (Hank Shaw photo)
Print Recipe

Few things are as iconic as a Christmas goose, but when it comes to translating that beloved holiday tradition into the wild world, many hunters throw up their hands and give up. Geese are tough, they say. Livery, smelly, and hard to clean. Sky carp.

All of this can be true, but it still shouldn't stop you from hunting, cooking, and enjoying your goose. Follow these guidelines and you'll be shocked at how wonderful the Lords of the Air can be on the table.

Let me start with the king of all geese: the whitefront or specklebelly goose. This is the finest-eating goose in North America (with the possible exception of the black brant on the West Coast). Specks are a seed-eating bird that can put on a heavy layer of fat, are the perfect size to feed four, and will always be sweet and lovely. A speck is my go-to goose for Christmas dinner.

This is a Nordic-inspired take on the eternal marriage between wild game and fruit. Cranberries are an especially good match because they are tart, but not too sweet. And while it might look like I'm asking you to use an awful lot of rosemary, it's mostly to flavor the butter sauce, rather than to be eaten; think of it like a bay leaf, and if you want to eat some of the rosemary, mince up a little bit and add it to the sauce. The end result is savory, tart, woodsy, and just a bit electric from lots of black pepper. The dish screams winter.


Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1½ pounds goose or duck breast
  • Salt (smoked salt if you have it)
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 heaping cup of cranberries
  • ½ cup fresh rosemary, (loosely packed) little bunches on stem
  • 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • Pickled mustard seeds (optional)

Directions:

  1. Take the goose breasts out of the fridge and salt them well. Let them come to room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Sear the goose, skin side down (or, if skinless, the side the skin used to be on), and cook over medium heat until it's brown and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and cook another 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how well you like your goose. Set the meat (skin side up if it has skin) on a cutting board to rest while you make the sauce.
  3. Add the rest of the butter to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the cranberries and toss to coat with the butter. Let the berries cook for a minute or two, until a few start to burst, then add the rosemary, honey, and quite a lot of black pepper – you want very much to be able to detect the black pepper in this dish. Toss all this to combine and heat through for another minute or so. Add any juices that have collected on the cutting board to the pan.
  4. Slice the goose breasts and serve with the sauce. If you're using the pickled mustard seeds, sprinkle some of them on the meat.
  5. Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes or with good bread.

Note: If you want to do the pickled mustard seeds, boil some white wine vinegar with mustard seeds for 5 minutes, then pour it all into a glass jar and cover. Let them steep at least a few days, but they will last a year in the fridge.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 14: Swamp Bulls

With his Mozambique forest bull in the salt, Craig Boddington sets his sights on the Marromeu grasslands in pursuit of a swamp buffalo.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 9: Aloha Axis Deer

Host Mike Schoby joins his buddies Jon Dubin and Jeff Johnston on the island of Lanai for a deer hunt Hawaiian style!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Looking for a great gun for the young hunter in your family? Here are eight favorites. Guns

8 Great Youth Guns Designed for Growing Hunters

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 18, 2016

Looking for a great gun for the young hunter in your family? Here are eight favorites.

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

See More Trending Articles

More Recipes

Meet the meat snack that's better than beef jerky. Recipes

Preserving Meat: How to Make South African Biltong

David Draper

Meet the meat snack that's better than beef jerky.

Here's why you need to try black bear meat now and discover what you've been missing. Recipes

Why You Need to Try Black Bear Meat Now

David Draper

Here's why you need to try black bear meat now and discover what you've been missing.

This Wild Turkey Bolognese Sauce with Pasta Recipe will become a go-to meal for family dinners. Recipes

Wild Turkey Bolognese Sauce with Pasta Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

This Wild Turkey Bolognese Sauce with Pasta Recipe will become a go-to meal for family dinners.

In this recipe, a bear roast is prepared Sauerbraten style. The meat is marinated in a mixture of red wine, vinegar, and spices, and then braised and served with a hearty gravy. Recipes

Bear Sauerbraten Recipe

David Draper

In this recipe, a bear roast is prepared Sauerbraten style. The meat is marinated in a mixture...

See More Recipes

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now