How to Cook Martinsgans, Traditional Austrian Goose
Courtesy Schwarzer Adler Estate Hotel, Vogtsburg-Oberbergen, Germany
Throughout Austria and southern parts of Germany, goose is the traditional fare on St. Martin’s Day, November 11. This harkens to medieval times, where a scarce food supply was supported by alternating periods of feast and fast aligned to the Christian calendar. Prolonged fasts like Lent and Advent would be preceded by one last rich, sustaining meal.
A stuffed St. Martin’s goose (Martins-gans) would be the last big meal before Christmas. In Vogtsburg-Oberbergen, Germany, the Schwarzer Adler Winery and Restaurant holds special dinners around St. Martin’s Day, served alongside its own wine.
Its version of Martinsgans features a deliciously fruity, aromatic stuffing that perfectly counters the rich meat. Goose meat is dark and dense, but it’s not plentiful, so there won’t be endless leftovers. Goose fat that renders during roasting can be strained and frozen. The fat will make delicious roast potatoes throughout winter.
- 1 7- to 8-pound goose with innards, preferably free-range
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mugwort (optional)
- 1½ pounds tart apples, like Granny Smith, peeled and finely diced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 8 ounces bacon, finely chopped
- 4 ounces diced crustless white bread
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Heart and liver of the goose, cleaned and finely chopped
- 1–2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup Pinot Noir
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
Heat oven to 350˚F. Pour cold water into bottom of roasting pan, and place rack in pan. Wash goose inside and out, and pat dry with paper towel. Mix 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Season inside of goose generously with salt, pepper, marjoram and mugwort, if using.
In large bowl, combine apples, onion, bacon, white bread, eggs, parsley, thyme, lemon zest, goose heart, goose liver and remaining salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing loosely into goose cavity, then sew cavity shut with trussing needle. (Leftover stuffing mixture can be baked in ovenproof dish.) Season outside of goose generously with salt and white pepper. Lay goose breast-side down on roasting pan rack, and place in oven.
After 1 hour, remove pan from oven. Turn goose on its back, and carefully pierce sides under wings so fat can escape. Remove excess fat from pan. Discard fat, or strain and reserve for future use. Roast until meat in thickest part of thigh and stuffing both register 165˚F, approximately 2 hours. The goose will not need basting. Transfer goose onto serving platter, and let rest.
Remove remaining fat from pan, and discard or reserve. Place pan on stove over medium heat, and deglaze with chicken stock. Bring to boil, and add Pinot Noir. Reduce liquid slightly. To thicken, combine 3 tablespoons cold water and corn starch, add mixture to pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain into a heated gravy boat, and serve alongside goose. Serves 4.
Pinot Noirs are ideal partners for the dark flesh of the goose: The meat is full of flavor without being heavy, and the stuffing is aromatic and bright. Both Franz Keller’s 2014 Franz Anton Schwarzer Adler Pinot Noir from Baden, Germany and Au Bon Climat’s 2013 Isabelle Pinot Noir from California play to that in terms of their own freshness, expressive fruit and herbal, briary overtones, which echo the marjoram.
Potato dumplings, made from cooked, riced potatoes mixed with flour, egg and seasonings. Shape into balls, or knödel, and simmer. Fry breadcrumbs in melted butter and sprinkle over knödel for a crunchy touch.
Red cabbage is a staple alongside goose. It can be sautéed in goose fat with onion, apples and a bay leaf for aroma. Goose stuffing is fairly aromatic, so no extra spice is needed.