Can I put a goose on a spit and cook it over a fire?

Sylvia Rostron


Marcmarc November 21, 2014
Cook it completely in the oven, then spit it just before your guests arrive. Pinch your cheeks to give them a Rosy-by-the-fire hue. Or if you're a dude, just poke the Goose with a stick and grunt

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trampledbygeese November 21, 2014
YES! Of course you can! That's how it was done for millennium.

...except... you don't cook it over the fire, you roast it in front of the fire. It makes a huge difference. These days we think of roasting over the flames like on a BBQ, but historically we roast in front of or to the side of the heat source.

Set up the spit in front of the fire so that you can move the goose further or closer to the the heat. Most people make the mistake of trying to alter the heat source (like turning the knob on a BBQ) but it's very different when cooking with an open fire. Instead, move the roast away or towards the head depending on what you need. Failing that, if your fire is on a flat surface, you can use an iron tool to move the fire away or towards the bird.

Turn it almost constantly (at least a quarter turn every 5 minutes). Oh, and don't forget to attach the goose ot the spit somehow (please don't ask me how I learned that one).

I usually put some pottery, or other fire resistant dishes underneath the goose to catch the drippings. Metal dripping trays tend to be awkward and burn me, besides, they conduct the heat and cook the fat more than I like. If you use metal, add some water to the bottom of the dripping trays and add more as needed during the roasting so that the fat doesn't burn or smoke or otherwise get too hot. Goose fat is DIVINE so don't let any of it go to waste. If the goose starts to dry out, just spoon some drippings back on top of it.

Let's see, what else to know? Oh yes, the fire shouldn't be big. If you can get the fire going, then get the heat settled into some larger bits of wood, it makes a much more consistent cooking environment. It's not the flames that cook the food, it's the heat. Too many flames just get in the way.

Any more questions about roasting IN FRONT OF a fire, just ask.
(hopefully I got the right photo - should be goose roasting next to fire)
Answer image
trampledbygeese November 21, 2014
Spelling correction: "move the roast away or towards the head" should be towards the 'heat'.

Also, the photo is for medieval cooking set up. Notice how small the fire is? Smaller than the goose for most of the cooking time. Like most traditional cooking, low and slow gives the best results. Assume it will take two and a half times as long to cook as in the oven - then start an hour earlier. Roast too hot and quickly, and the meat get's tremendously tough.

Let us know how it goes!
ChefJune November 21, 2014
What great and detailed directions! WOW. sounds like you've done this many times. I was about to say that of course one CAN roast the goose over an open fire, but with an important event like Thanksgiving at hand, I wouldn't chance trying it for the first time. My experience with geese is that they give up huge amounts of fat, and the drips may be more than an inexperienced open fire cook can handle.
trampledbygeese November 21, 2014
I've cooked and roasted with open fire a few times, but no where near as often as I would like. Personally I have a lot more success with fire roasting than with oven, but that might be because fire roasting requires so much more attention. By paying attention to how the meat is cooking you can make adjustments for things like diet of the bird, free range or confined conditions... &c, all which have an influence on how the muscles (ie, meat) forms on the bird. Oven roasts turn out great, but fire roasting almost always ends up more tender and flavourful (except when I'm in a hurry and have the rabbit too close to the flames).

With the open fire, since we roast IN FRONT OF the fire, there is virtually no risk of the fat getting near enough the fire to do any harm (except with certain metal containers which conduct the heat too much). I don't know if you can see from the angle in the photo, but the goose is 6 inches to 24 inches away from any flame during the cooking time.

When I use the oven plus fire technique, I like to roast the first half hour to one hour with the fire first, then put it in the oven to finish cooking. This way the fire flavour enters the meat. If it's just finished over the fire, you get less flavour deep inside where it counts, just a bit on the skin. But of course you can always put the finished bird back on the spit and next to the fire for the holiday display just before the guests arrive.

I hope the OP lets us know what she decides to do with her delicious goose.
trampledbygeese November 21, 2014
A thought about first time roasting on a fire. A chicken makes a great practice meal to make certain that the setup is right and to practice technique. A small fryer should do it.

One final thought is to be careful with the choice of wood. Some woods contain toxins that can be released when burned (like stone fruit or beach). These usually aren't harmful in small quantities, but would build up in the system if you cooked with them every day. Wood that has been in salt water should never be used to cook food, so when cooking at the beach, bring your own wood.
Mike November 20, 2014
I agree with Catherine. There's so much fat in it I that I don't think it's worth your while. You would need to catch the drippings or risk major flare ups
Catherine November 20, 2014
My mother always cooks a goose over the Christmas season. She saves all of the rendered fat for french fries (yum!) and based on the amount of fat she gets, I would say that cooking a goose over a fire would cause too many flare-ups and stress.
Meaghan F. November 20, 2014
Josh Ozersky, who writes the "Eat Like A Man" blog for Esquire (terrible title; hilarious writer) has written more about cooking over an open fire than any other food writer I'm aware of... I don't think he's written about goose in particular, but you might look up some of his basic fire-cooking tips.
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