Christmas Goose - Iowa Wildlife Federation

Christmas Goose

Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which activity is most enjoyable – pursuing wild game, preparing wild game, or eating wild game.  What I do know is that all three rank high on my list of favorite pastimes which brings us to today’s topic – preparing the Christmas goose.

Few flavors can match that of a corn-fed Iowa honker.  For our family, roast Canada goose is a long standing, time honored Christmas tradition.  When paired with high octane side dishes and festive desserts, it is a meal we look forward to all year.  Our favorite recipe is called Chesapeake Barbequed Canada Goose.  If you’ve never sampled this Holiday taste sensation, you’re really missing out.  Of all the fish & game recipes I’ve shared with readers over the decades, none have resulted in more comments than Chesapeake Goose. 

If you don’t happen to already have a hearty supply of Canada geese stacked in your basement freezer, don’t worry.  You can still enjoy the amazing flavors of this ‘Down East’ entree by substituting a store bought, domestic goose for its wild cousin.  To each his own – but, all things considered, I’d rather bring my dinner from the field.  No one can argue that grabbing a shrink-wrapped goose from the frozen foods section of your local supermarket is a whole lot less exciting than bagging a wild one for yourself – especially when a noisy honker comes sailing into your decoys with its neck arched, flaps down, and black webs extended.  Here’s the recipe that I guarantee will be love at first bite. 

Enjoy a very Merry Christmas!



1 whole, plucked Canada goose

½ pound butter

½ cup catsup

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

1 medium onion, chopped

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, pressed [may sub 1/8th tsp. garlic powder]

¼ tsp. Tabasco [optional, but highly recommended]

½ tsp. salt [optional]

Ground black pepper to taste

                   Cooking Directions:

Bank two medium large beds of charcoal on opposite sides of a covered grill.  Prepare goose by lightly brushing skin with oil and adding your favorite seasoning [Durkee’s six-pepper is a good choice].  When coals turn white place Canada goose, breast up, in center of grill and cover.  [You can add color and create a more robust flavor by topping the coals with a few chunks of seasoned apple wood, hickory, or mesquite.]  Cooking time for a large Canada goose is approximately 1 ½ hours.  Since we’re cooking outdoors, times will vary according to ambient temperature, humidity, wind, and size of goose.  After an hour and twenty minutes, begin testing the goose with a small diameter probe.  Don’t bother with misleading meat thermometer readings; the bird’s internal juices will communicate everything you need to know.  As soon as those juices turn a rich pink, immediately remove bird from grill.  Rest the goose for 5 to 10 minutes and meat will be medium to medium rare. 

NOTE: If you leave your bird in the grill until juices run clear, the meat will be completely cooked which means you’ve put your meal on the fast track to disaster.  Keep in mind that a large, super-heated bird continues cooking while it rests.  Serve hungry guests a helping of meat that is drier than toast and your goose will be cooked in more ways than one!  Whether we’re dealing with the Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas goose, the number one thing to avoid is overcooking.

Barbecue Sauce:  As [goose] cooking nears completion, combine the rest of your ingredients and slowly simmer in a saucepan for 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not heat to a boil.  Note: Including the suggested small amount of Tabasco will not make the Chesapeake sauce spicy; you won’t even taste it.  What Tabasco does accomplish, however, is to effectively pull all the flavors together.  Handed down from Des Moines, Iowa’s Grandma Cox, it’s a trick that will enhance the flavor of virtually every sauce you’ll ever make. 

Final Step:  Carve rested goose into thin slices and place in a covered dish.  Smother goose with simmering Chesapeake sauce and serve. Recommended sides for your Chesapeake Bay, home cooked feast include baked wild rice & mushrooms, oyster dressing, baked apple, homemade crab cakes, stuffed clams and red currant jelly.

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