Don’t Forget the Goose
For most of us, Hanukkah foods come down to two things, potato latkes, and sufganiyot. Who among us doesn’t look forward to a crispy fried potato pancake and a sugary jelly donut. This year as you pile some sour cream or apple sauce on your latke or bite into a puffy powdered sugared sufganiyot, we want to introduce some other traditional Hanukkah recipes to add to your holiday feast.
The Fatted Goose
As Basia starts in Shalom Aleichem’s “Genz” written in 1902, “I don’t wish this on anyone, but a year ago Hanuka time, I had a stroke of good and bad luck at one and the same time. Just listen to the story! You run across a gem like this only once in a thousand years. I’ve been selling geese, you see, and kosher-for Passover goose-fat for these past twenty years, and in all that time, a thing like that’s never happened to me.”
For Ashkenazi Jews, the goose was the golden ticket, prized for its down, rich meat and ample supply of fat. Since Roman times domesticated geese have been fattened and many scholars believe that the fatted fowl mentioned with King Solomon were geese. In the Middle Ages, European Jews became specialists in the trade of raising and fattening geese. Raised throughout the year, geese were confined and fed to be slaughtered before Hanukkah. The rendered fat or schmaltz was needed to last throughout the winter, especially when butter was scarce. And as Basia alludes, the goose fat was so good that they would take out their Passover cookware to render the fat for next year’s Passover meals.
It is fairly simple to roast a goose. In the Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s, “The Unrivalled Cook Book of Los Angeles,” written in 1902, the directions are succinct, “Clean, singe and draw:
Prepare same as roast turkey.” If you plan on roasting a goose this year, we suggest rendering that schmaltz and saving it for your matza balls or to fry your latkes. With goose schmaltz, you can taste the latkes of your great great grandparents. Going farther back in time is another story and a different latke. For a recipe to roast a goose
- 8 – 10 lbs Goose
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 1 apple quartered (sweet or tart)
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper
Prick the skin of goose with a knife or fork in several places to allow fat to run out during roasting.
Rub the goose inside and out with lemon juice, salt, and pepper
Put onion and apple inside goose cavity
Place bird breast down on a rack with roasting pan.
Roast at 300°F for 90 – 120 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
Remove the goose and raise the oven temperature to 450°F. Save the goose fat in a heat resistant jar and save for the best schmaltz! Return the goose to the oven and roast for another 10-20 minutes or until the goose is golden and the skin is crispy.
The roasted goose should rest for 5-15 minutes before carving.
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