Goose is a Christmas classic. Why not pair it with wood-smoking, a traditional American cooking method? Low-and-slow indirect smoking creates an earthiness that complements the meat’s deeply rich flavor, making for a truly special holiday meal, especially when the goose is served with Spiced Fig Gravy (see related recipe).
You can buy a frozen goose at the supermarket this time of year and defrost it in the refrigerator, or buy a fresh goose at Eastern Market.
You’ll need 4 cups of pecan, cherry or maple wood chips -- or any combination of them -- that have been soaked in water for at least 1 hour.
Make Ahead: You may combine the dry rub a couple of days before, store it in a sealed container in the pantry (not the refrigerator), and use it when preparing the goose.
Servings: 10 - 12
- For the rub
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, preferably cayenne
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon gumbo file (file powder) (optional)
- For the bird
- 9-to-11-pound goose, neck and giblets removed
- 1 large onion, cut into quarters
- 1 large orange, cut into quarters
- 1 rib celery, cut into quarters
For the rub: Combine the salt, paprika, garlic powder, red pepper, onion powder, sage, white pepper, black pepper, thyme and the gumbo file, if desired.
For the bird: Soak the 4 cups of wood chips for at least 1 hour.
Rinse the goose and pat it dry. Remove any pinfeathers. Discard all excess goose fat. Tuck the wings backward underneath the back of the bird.
Prepare the grill for indirect heat: If using a charcoal grill, light the coals. Drain the water from the wood chips. If using a gas grill, place all 4 cups of the chips in a smoker box or an aluminum foil pouch punctured with a fork on top to release smoke.
If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan beneath the grates on the indirect side of the grill. When the coals are white-hot, scatter 2 cups of the wood chips directly onto the coals. You will add a cup of chips an hour later, and the final cup an hour after that. When you add the chips, add about a dozen fresh briquettes.
If using a gas grill, place a drip pan directly on the briquettes or lava rocks. Place the smoker box or foil pouch between the grate and briquettes, close to the flame. Preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium (350 degrees).
Sprinkle the spice rub on the inside and outside of the goose, massaging it in with your hands and using all of the mix. Place the onion, orange and celery quarters in the cavity.
Place the goose, breast side up, on the indirect side of the grill, over the drip pan. Cover the charcoal grill and leave the vents open. Close the lid of the gas grill.
Baste the goose with drippings every 30 minutes until it is done.
After 3 hours, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone. The bird is done when the temperature on an instant-read reads 165 degrees (between 3 and 4 hours). The skin should be dark, somewhat crisp and nubbly. The flesh will be richly browned with a pinkish hue. If you have trouble keeping your charcoal fire at a steady temperature, the cooking time could be as long as 5 to 6 hours. If you are worried about keeping the fire stable, you can plan on the goose taking 6 hours; if it takes only 3 or 4 hours, remove it from the fire, set it aside, then reheat in the oven, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or on the charcoal grill over the drip pan with a medium-hot fire, also for 20 minutes.
Transfer the goose to a cutting board. Discard the vegetable mixture in the cavity. Let the bird rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Adapted from "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen" (William Morrow, 1984).
Tested by Jim Shahin.
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