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

B&C Typical Mule Deer

B&C Typical Mule Deer

Doug Burris Jr's typical mule deer taken in 1969, could just be one record that will never be broken.

Venison Cheeseburger Bites Recipe

Venison Cheeseburger Bites Recipe

If you're tired of the same old jalapeno and cream cheese poppers, here's a completely different take on the popular party appetizer. Easy to make, and incredibly delicious, these mini cheeseburgers, wrapped in bacon, make the perfect one-bite-fits-all snack for your next tailgate party or hunting camp.

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim on a whitetail that provides the best possible margin for error.

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the 6.5 PRC. Guns

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC: Rifle Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2020

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the...

Practice under pressure with these high-intensity drills. How-To

4 Shooting Drills to Make You a Better Hunter

Jeff Johnston

Practice under pressure with these high-intensity drills.

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...

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these guns. Survival

Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense?

Larry Case - July 11, 2018

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these...

See More Trending Articles

More Recipes

Feel free to experiment with your own, but here are six sweet, spicy and downright scrumptious venison marinade recipes worth trying. Recipes

6 Scrumptious Venison Marinade Recipes

David Draper

Feel free to experiment with your own, but here are six sweet, spicy and downright scrumptious...

Making savory venison sausage isn't difficult. And while some might think the process of making sausage is time-consuming and cumbersome, it's all in perspective. Recipes

Venison Jalapeño Country Sausage Recipe

David Draper

Making savory venison sausage isn't difficult. And while some might think the process of...

This recipe adds a little something extra to already-perfect venison backstrap – a sweet and spicy relish made with white-flesh peaches. Recipes

Venison Backstrap with Sweet & Spicy Peach Relish Recipe

Jack Hennessy

This recipe adds a little something extra to already-perfect venison backstrap – a sweet and...

A Dutch oven over an open fire is the perfect way to cook this hearty bean dish. Recipes

Dutch Oven Venison & Apple BBQ Camp Beans Recipe

Michael Pendley

A Dutch oven over an open fire is the perfect way to cook this hearty bean dish.

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