Reviving Yuletide Tradition: The Traditional Christmas Goose Dinner

Steeped in tradition and heritage, we’ve all read Christmas stories that mention eating goose for Christmas dinner; it’s a common theme in tales and Christmas movies.

For most of us, our first introduction to the concept of a Christmas goose came from the famous Dickens story “A Christmas Carol,” in which a roast goose was the centerpiece of the Cratchit family dinner. But why? What’s special about goose that made it popular at Christmas? Do people still eat goose at Christmas? Could you?

Five Reasons to Cook a Goose for Christmas Dinner:

  1. Goose meat tastes richer than turkey and is much more flavorful than chicken, the more commonly found cousins of this bird.
  2. The meat is said to offer better pairings with wine, which lends itself well to a holiday celebration.
  3. They are known for their dark meat and the quality of their fat. Goose fat cooks at a lower temperature than turkey, which makes goose both easier to cook and easier to eat.
  4. As a result of the heavy fat content and the lower cooking temperature of that fat, goose meat tends to be so moist that it does not require sauce or gravy, unlike turkey or chicken.
  5. For succulent and moist meat, a younger goose is ideal. Geese grow into maturity at eight to nine months and are typically born in the spring. Therefore, if a goose is born on April 15th, it will reach its ideal maturity by mid-December, resulting in a bird that is at its prime for harvest and consumption at Christmas time.

All of these factors lead to a special holiday meal.

Goose meat combines well with fruits coming into season in the fall and early winter such as – apples, pears, plums, and figs – all of which make great side dish additions or simply mixed into a stuffing. These colorful treats add to the visual festivity of this meal as well as serving as a delicious addition to the main course.

The typical preparation for goose is roasted, like turkey, however the higher fat content and lower cooking temperature actually make this bird easier to prepare; the meat naturally holds more moisture and flavor, so basting is not as much of a concern. Goose is also best prepared at a lower cook point than chicken or turkey–the meat should be prepared to more of a medium or medium rare, as opposed to the full cooking that chicken and turkey require to preventing sickness.

The typical goose recipe calls for the bird to be roasted in a dish in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes per pound. Recipes vary, along with suggested stuffing’s and seasonings. Your best bet is to search through your favorite cookbooks or recipe websites and find a recipe that matches your intended celebration, tastes, and nutritional requirements.

Don’t be intimidated by this new bird–if you can cook a turkey or chicken, you can cook a goose!

The Christmas Goose tradition of yesteryear is undergoing something of a revival in the United States. Its richness and complexity of its dark meat, the ease of preparation, and the uniqueness of this bird make it an attractive option. Are you ready to try something new and different? Perhaps this year is the year you break your tradition by trying goose for Christmas and reconnecting with what you saw in A Christmas Carol – a delicious, roast goose on Christmas Day.