written on 16/11/2020
by Jutta Triebe

A historical attempt to explain this custom is based on the assumption that in times of feudalism, the origin was a feudal obligation due on Martin's Day, a levy called Martin's lap.

Since this often consisted of a goose, the name Martin's goose emerged, and because St. Martin's Day, 11th November (the day of the funeral of Bishop St. Martin of Tours in 397) was traditionally celebrated with a fair or an evening of dancing and music, the goose was an obvious choice for the feast and to eat festively that evening.

Roast goose is a traditional dish on Martin's Day, especially in northern and western Europe. The Danes fill the bird with plums and apples and serve red cabbage with it.

In Bavaria you eat potato dumplings with roast goose. In the north of Germany it is customary to stuff the goose with a mixture of ground meat, onions, garlic and herbs, while in the south one uses soaked rolls, chestnuts, roasted nuts, apples, plums, sugar, salt, vinegar and red wine during preparation.

General tips for the perfect roast goose:

  • For a crispy goose skin: brush the goose with salted water, oil and paprika powder or honey. Even a few minutes under the grill setting will make the gooe skin crispy
  • Geese get crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside when they cook on a wire rack to allow the fat to drain off
  • Finally, cover the goose with aluminium foil so that the goose does not dry out
  • A filling provides extra flavour and aroma, for example chestnuts, pumpkins or apples
  • Mugwort makes the fat goose more digestible

Martin's goose - it's what's inside that counts

Prepare the goose

The top priority is quality - investing in a high-quality St. Martin's goose is worthwhile! For a whole goose, one calculates around 500 grammes of gross weight per person.

This means that for a larger group of eight to ten people, a bird weighing around five kilos is not too much. If you buy a frozen goose, let it thaw slowly in the refrigerator for a day or two. Take it out of the fridge an hour before you cook it.

First you prepare the goose. First, remove the giblet bag - if present - and wash the goose thoroughly. Then carefully pat the goose dry.

Cut out any visible fat in the cavity and pepper and salt the goose inside and out. Now you can prepare a filling as you like and fill the goose with it.

You close the openings with toothpicks and kitchen thread - so the filling is guaranteed to stay in the goose!

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 1 goose, ready to cook, approx. 5 kg
  • 250 g prune (s), (soaked beforehand)
  • 500 g apples
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp breadcrumbs (dry grated whole grain bread)
  • 2 cl brandy or cognac
  • cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • salt and pepper


Wash and dry the goose carefully. Only salt the inside.

Remove the stones from the soaked prunes and mix with the peeled, pitted and chopped apples. Season with sugar, grated whole wheat bread, cinnamon and brandy. Stuff the goose with it and sew it up on the open side.

Before roasting, put about 3 cups of water and some pieces of apple in the drip tray. Place the stuffed goose on a gridiron and slide everything into the preheated oven on the lowest rack.

Roast slowly at 200 °C top and bottom heat for up to 3 hours and occasionally baste the goose with the pan juices. Halfway through the roasting time, prick the skin a few times below the leg so that the fat can flow out.

10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, brush the goose with cold salt water and roast it at 250 ° C until crispy.

Extend the sauce in the drip pan with water, thicken with cream and flour and season with applesauce, salt and pepper. Let it boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the threads and carve the goose.

Serve with potato or bread dumplings and red cabbage.

Working time approx. 1 hour

Cooking / baking time approx. 3 hours

Total time approx. 4 hours

Difficulty level normal

Side note: Yesterday I watched a short report on television that made me happy as a vegetarian. Due to the prevailing pandemic, the sale of the geese that were bred for the festivities has drastically decreased. But unfortunately it is only short-lived. The geese that are not sold are being processed into dog food.

Photo 1: ©Zyance