Should You Brine a Goose?
There is some dispute as to whether you should brine a goose. Because goose tends to be very fatty, it is often not necessary to brine a goose in order to make it moist and juicy. However, certain kinds of goose should generally be brined, and any goose can benefit from brining.
What is Brining?
Brining is the process of soaking meat in a solution of water, salt, and additional herbs or spices for flavoring. The process is most often used for poultry such as chicken and, in particular, turkey. The idea is to ensure that as much moisture as possible is retained in the brined meat – an important goal with a meat such as turkey that is prone to dry during cooking.
Preparing a Brine
The brine itself should be prepared with heat to dissolve the salt, but should be cool by the time of the bird’s immersion. Any additional flavors will add subtle hints to the finished bird; the subtlety of the results opens the door to creativity, since a seasoning misstep likely won’t ruin the final product. Many cooks add a little sugar to poultry brines, or else sweet-oriented flavorings such as cinnamon and cloves.
Different Approaches for Different Birds
Farm-raised goose tends to have a higher fat content than turkey, so it is not as useful to brine the goose before cooking. However, an important exception to this general rule of thumb is in preparing a wild-hunted goose. Wild geese often lack the elevated fat content of their farm-raised counterparts. Brining a wild goose can be an effective way to produce a finished goose with the moisture of a domestic goose.
Even farm raised geese can benefit from brining. One idea is to brine the goose, but then drain out the excess pools of fat that gather beneath the skin prior to cooking. Another idea is to brine and then expose the skin to intense heat, seeking to seal in the fat along with the moisture from the brining in order to produce an especially-moist bird. In any event, the goose should rest in refrigerated dry air for a few hours between the brining and cooking.
While brining a goose is not as common as turkey brining, it can be an important part of preparing a wild-hunted goose for cooking. Brining can also be a unique way to prepare a farm-raised goose.