A few Christmases ago I ventured off the traditional turkey-festooned path and treated my family to a duck, bought at auction. This year I have gone up a notch and obtained a goose.
The local poultry auction is run by the delightfully named Fabian R Eagle and is a wonderful melting pot of humanity ranging from East Anglian farming stock [which SHMBO refers to as the Hobbits] to the well to do of Suffolk and beyond, who have donned their tweed caps, Barbours and Hunters especially for the occasion [and probably brought the spare car as it is very, very, very muddy]. As a friend commented on Facebook, this is not a scene for vegetarians as row upon row of racks overflowing with dead birds are presided over by Mr Eagle and his acerbic helpers.
I had gone with the intention of getting a smallish goose upto about 10 lbs in weight but it quickly became apparent that it was as worthwhile buying a bigger bird since they all went for about the same price. We waited until the third tranche of geese, by which time some of the sillier bidders had been, paid over the odds and gone. I ended up getting a 20 lb goose for £55. This may seem a huge amount of money to spend but for the same money I could buy a bird weighing less than half as much from Waitrose or Marks and Sparks. Also, I end up with more spare bits for stock which contributes to the overall quality of the meal, extra splendiferous goose fat for roasties et al and leftovers for making into pies.
Having done many pigeons, several pheasant, a hare and a duck, I was reasonably confident but did have a sneaky peek on YouTube just to be sure. Actually, none of the videos were actually much use so I got myself set up and ready to go.
Meat cleaver for wings, neck and feet, filleting knife for working deep into the bird and a normal 6 inch knife for everything else. Oh, and plenty of newspaper, placky bags for unwanted body parts and an industrial roll of blue paper towel.
I started by using the cleaver to remove the obvious extremities: head, feet and forewings. The limbs are best detached at joints while the head needs doing as close to the body as you can; you need then to peel back the skin and remove the neck. This and the wings are kept for stock, the others discarded.
Next comes the messy bit! You need to cut around the anus from below, creating a hole large enough to get your hand in. Don’t cut in too vigorously; you do not want to cut the intestines and contaminate the bird. Remove the body fat and you will reveal the lower then upper intestines. You should then be able to reach in and use your fingers to ease the remaining organs away from the cavity walls. With a bit of gentle persuasion you can get most of the offal onto the work surface allowing you to see in and find the remaining annoying connective tissue so that it all plops out, including the heart and liver. You should then reach and remove the little glands from the backbone as they will be very bitter, then do the same as before with the lungs, easing them away from the ribcage before removing them through the top hole.