Preparation / Directions:
My wife, who likes to volunteer me for challenges, decided to get a goose for Christmas dinner this year. We'd planned to have it in early afternoon, but shifted dinner to suppertime so we could lunch on the clam chowder we didn't eat on Christmas Eve because the cocktail party we'd gone to turned out to be a buffet with beef tenderloin, onion tarts, and other goodies.
I'd never done a goose myself before, and had only vague memories of helping with one many moons ago, so I did some research. The big challenge, as you probably know, is the thick fat layer on domestic geese. The recipes I turned up called for roasting, and I didn't want to spend too long a time cooking it, so I planned to use a Weber kettle with small fires on either side of charcoal and wood (apple, since I have an unlimited supply). The barbecuing itself was actually uninteresting -- about two and a half hours (with the air temp at the top of the kettle in the 300's F.) until it reached an interior temperature of 170 F in the inner thigh. Apparently goose is hard to go too far wrong with; it doesn't dry out as badly as a lot of birds when overcooked. The interesting part of the process was the preparation for cooking, which I got from a Xerox my wife had acquired somewhere (I don't have the reference on me, but think it was out of the old Cook's Magazine):
Choose a smallish goose; anything over 13 lb. is likely to be old and tough. A day, or better two, before you plan to cook it, take your largest stockpot or lobster pot, fill it half full with water, and bring to a boil. Remove the neck and innards from the goose's cavity and pluck any remaining quills with pliers. Cut around the wishbone with a sharp knife and remove it (anyone know why they want this done?).
Puncture the goose's skin all over with a sharp point (the letter recommended a barding needle; I just used an instant-read thermometer), coming in at an oblique angle to avoid puncturing the meat below the subcutaneous fat. Put the goose in the boiling water for about a minute (or until "goose bumps" form). If, as is likely (and was true for me) the goose won't fit all the way into the pot, you'll have to turn it end-for-end and immerse the other end as well. You'll want gloves for this operation, especially if you have to "double-dip." I used disposable food-service gloves and got by, but real rubber work gloves would have given better heat insulation.
Dry the goose and put it UNCOVERED on a broiling rack in the refrigerator to dry the skin. The skin will tighten around the bird, forcing some of the fat through the holes, though most of that will happen during the cooking process.
To cook, rub salt and pepper over the goose and put lemon juice in the cavity. You need a BIG drip pan -- I used a 99-cent disposable turkey-roasting pan with high sides to reduce the chance that a spark would set off a grease fire. I probably should have emptied the grease a time or two along the way, but it was cold, it was Christmas, my back hurt from injudicious lift on an oak limb on Sunday, and I didn't. I got away with it this time; I certainly wouldn't have tried doing so with a wood that was more likely to "spit" than apple is, or that wasn't already burnt down substantially before the fat was rendered.
The result was a goose that was very good, though not perfect: the meat was firm as expected, with a good subtle smoke taste (goose, by the way, does not "taste like chicken"; more like roast beef if anything). The skin was mostly crisp and very good (cf. Peking duck), though next time I will prick the skin more thoroughly and turn the goose more often while it's cooking (this would be a good spit-cooked item). There were still pockets of fat that I think were mainly due