Roast goose and roast duck are common meals in the fall and winter in Slovakia. Through the fall, restaurants hang signs declaring “Husacie Hody!” or “Kačacie Hody!” – Goose Feast! Duck Feast! The word hody has connotations of fall or of an originally religious event of the feast of the local church.
Commonly served with roast goose or duck, or a goose-duck breed as my mother in law often does, is lokše, Slovak potato flatbread. Lokše is basically mashed potatoes with a little flour (including gluten-free flour, as the potatoes hold it together), rolled flat and cooked on a dry skillet. The lokše are then generously brushed with the fat from the goose or duck, although butter or lard can work as well.
I admit that I prefer duck to goose. It’s just a little more juicy, a little more tender.
And roast goose is easiest to eat with your hands – just rip in there medieval style. Make sure to have napkins on hand. Not very dignified, but perhaps rather like old time Slovak peasants.
The way Slovaks roast both goose and duck is very simple but rather ingenious. Very liberally salt the fowl and then let it rest in a cool place for 12-24 hours before rinsing off and baking. Know why? Well, a couple reason. One is that the salt draws out water, dissolves, and then some gets absorbed back in. Salt breaks down protein, meaning that the meat is more tender. And, last but not least, salt add flavour and giving it time to absorb lets the salt penetrate further into the meat.
By the way, when they roast a turkey, they use the same method.
I borrowed the roasting pan from my mother in law because to me it has so much character. It is ceramic and starting to crack, so she had it wired together (you can see some of it) to strengthen it. She warned me that I had to hold it a certain way or it would break.
It used to be common here, to patch holes in pots and wire together ceramic containers. My husband remembers the tinker coming through the village and his parents still have pots they use for zabíjačka, pig butchering, that have been mended.
Such a shame that we live in an era of a throw-away attitude.
Anyway, at the end of the roasting pan used to be a spout, for pouring out the fat. You can better see a newer pan, spout intact, in the sixth picture in this post. Goose fat is supposed o be all kinds of good for you, including for coughs
- goose or duck
- 1 cup water
- (seriously, that's all)
- Very liberally rub salt into a goose or duck (thawed), including inside the cavity. Let sit covered in a cool place for 12-24 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F. Before baking, rinse the fowl well under running water to remove excess salt.
- Place in a roasting pan and pour in about one cup of water.
- Bake in oven, 30 minutes for every kg (so about 2 pounds) plus 30 minutes. Baste every once in a while. Halfway through baking, turn the goose over. When golden brown and done cooking, take from the oven and cover with foil for about 30 minutes.
- Carve up bird and serve with lokše.
- Pour out fat and use to brush lokše, to treat coughs, pour on veggies, and any other use you can think of.