How to Break Down a Goose

Towards the latter months of 2020, our Goose Meat Recipes experienced a definite uptick in views and internet searches. So, my wife (somewhat begrudgingly) agreed to let me buy another goose to cook with this year! At the moment, I haven’t formulated any ideas for the more traditional cuts yet, but my sous chef and I do have a pretty unique plan for the Giblet Bag.

Anyway, if you buy a goose, and you don’t want to roast it whole, here’s what to do. The level of difficulty is about the same as a duck…we find it easier to break down this than we do a turkey. That said, this is greasier to work with, so we recommend using kitchen grade vinyl gloves and an abundance of caution. If you opt not to use gloves, you’ll want to use a heavy degreaser dish soap to wash your hands, as regular hand won’t cut it.

Lastly, if you’re working with a whole goose, you may want to save some excess fat, cut it into pieces, and freeze that in a bag. Like duck fat, you can heat it up and use it instead of oil or butter in some dishes…and doing it this way will save you from having to go to the store to buy an expensive can of goose grease (or so says Dwight Schrute).

Time: 30-45 Minutes

Materials Needed:

  • A Whole Goose – Fully Thawed
  • Large Cutting Board
  • Fillet Knife or Paring Knife
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Food Grade Vinyl Gloves – Powder Free
  • Freezer Zip Top Bags – 5 Gallon Size, 1 Quart Size

For the “Method” Section, I’ll write captions under each picture to walk you through what’s happening rather than typing all of the method bullet points and including pictures after all of the instructions.

Getting Started:

Lay your thawed goose with the breast meat facing up on your cutting board, and remove the neck and giblet bag from the main cavity.

Remove the Legs and Thighs:

Make an incision through the skin that connects each drumstick to the main body. Then, work your fingers down through until you feel the joint that connects the thigh to the body. Cut through any excess skin as you do this.
Flip your goose so the breast meat is facing down, and then feel for that same joint connecting the thigh to the main body. Cut through the skin, and then pull the goose’s leg/thigh up to pop the joint. Then, work your knife through to remove the leg/thigh entirely.
Ta Da! Your legs/thighs are removed.

Remove the Wings:

Flip your bird so that the breast meat is facing upwards again. Pull on the wing to see how it connects and where the joint is, and make an incision between the wing and the breast meat that goes down to the joint but does not attempt to cut through it yet.
Flip your bird (again) so the breast meat is facing down. Working one at a time, pull a wing outward away from the body, and work your knife through the skin. Then, when the skin is no longer holding the bird together, pop the joint, and work your knife through to remove each wing. Note: The bone that connects the goose wing to the body is a little different shape than you would expect (more of a triangular type joint) if you’ve worked with other birds.
With each wing removed, it’s time to break them down a little further. Feel for the main joint connecting the drumstick with the second wing piece. Make a cut towards that joint from the inside angle and the outside angle, and then try to pop the joint out. Work your knife through carefully. There is some tissue that connects the wing together that may require a sturdy knife to get through.
Use a similar process as the step above to remove the wing tips, and discard those. Now, you’ve got goose wings!

Remove the Breast Meat:

Flip your bird so the breast meat is facing up, and make an incision just to the side of the breastbone. You want to get through the skin entirely with this cut.
Work your knife down to the ribs/cartilage along your original cut, and then use your fingers to start to pull the meat away.
Work your knife in the opposite direction as you had been pulling (starting near the neck hole) to fully separate the breast meat. Then, pull/slice along the ribs to the back of the bird until the meat is fully removed. Then, do this same process on the other side to remove the other breast meat.
Ta Da!

Cut off any extra meat left on the carcass, place all of your cuts into your zip top bags, squeeze all the air out, and label your cuts for the freezer!

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