Roast Goose Breasts with Braised White Cabbage and Pancetta
Ah, it’s that time of the year when goose and turkey feature on menus up and down the country. We often get ourselves in a tizz on Christmas day, hoping that the turkey has fully defrosted, then trying to fit it in the oven and get it cooked on time, and so on, and for me it’s just a recipe for a stressful disaster. Instead, I like to take the stress out of the kitchen and concentrate on the festive pleasures of nattering and enjoying a glass or two of decent wine in the company of good friends or family.
Personally, I like goose and dislike turkey, so goose is my preference for Christmas day. For me, goose has to be cooked medium-rare as I don’t like well-done goose, which tastes of liver and the texture is off-putting. For this reason, I don’t buy a whole goose for roasting as the legs require a long roasting time to cook them well, whereas the breasts require less cooking and are best served medium-rare. One tip when cooking goose breasts is to ask your butcher to take the breasts off the bone for you, as this eliminates a lot of hassle and saves time too.
This recipe is fairly simple to make and delicious to eat. If you do have gadgets as I do, see the Chef’s Notes below for alternative instructions on how to cook the goose breasts in a water bath or sous-vide. The results are pretty similar.
I serve the roast breasts with braised white cabbage and pancetta. It’s tasty and doesn’t require too much preparation. It also means that when your guests arrive, all the work is done and you can sit back, relax and enjoy all the compliments that this recipe is sure to trigger.
Ingredients & Method
For the braised white cabbage and pancetta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 250g diced pancetta
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
- 100g celery (prepared weight), finely diced
- 100g onions (prepared weight), finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1.2kg white cabbage (prepared weight), finely sliced
- 50ml white wine vinegar
- 200ml dry white wine
- 250ml white chicken stock
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the roast goose breasts
- 2 boneless (skin-on) goose breasts (about 750g each)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
Prepare the braised white cabbage (see Chef’s Notes). Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan or casserole over a medium heat and sauté the pancetta, crushed coriander seeds, celery, onions and garlic for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.
Add the cabbage and season lightly with salt and pepper, then cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and wine, then cover and cook over a low heat for 10–15 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated. Add the stock and cover, then transfer to the oven and cook for 25 minutes or until tender and cooked, stirring once. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reheat gently on the hob before serving (see below).
For the roast goose breasts, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Score the skin of each goose breast and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat until hot, then place the goose breasts, skin side down, in the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the skin is golden brown (if the pan is not big enough to cook both breasts at the same time, cook one at a time). Place the coriander seeds and thyme sprig in a roasting tin, then place the goose breasts, raw side down, on top.
Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack, cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes (discard the aromatics). It is important to rest the goose breasts well and serve them medium-rare (well-done goose has an unpleasant livery taste and texture).
While the goose breasts are resting, gently reheat the braised white cabbage in the covered pan or casserole over a low heat on the hob for about 10 minutes, or until piping hot.
Carve the goose breasts and serve with the braised white cabbage and a red wine sauce or gravy of your choice.
The braised white cabbage can be made up to 3 days in advance. Prepare and cook it as instructed, then leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a covered saucepan on the hob until piping hot, before serving.
For a sous-vide cooking technique for the goose, trim the excess fat from the goose breasts, score the skin and place the breasts with the coriander seeds and thyme in a vacuum pouch. Seal on hard vacuum and cook in a preheated water bath at 54°C for 6 hours. Remove the goose breasts from the bag and drain, then render the fat in a hot pan over a high heat, until the skin on the breasts is crisp and golden brown. Rest the goose breasts (covered with foil) in a warm place for 10 minutes before serving.