Round about this time of year, as the run-up to the Christmas season begins ever earlier, all sorts of foodie publications will launch their annual campaign to ruin your oven and pretty much all of your Boxing Day. I have wondered if they are in the pocket of the goose fat lobby or the cleaning specialists, or maybe the writers are simply living out their lonely microwave-in-a-bedsit existence, motivated by deep jealousy for those of us who have proper ovens and would like to make use of them over the holidays to feed our loved ones.
Whatever the reasons, any day now you will start reading articles extolling the virtues of roasting your potatoes in goose fat. Please, please do not be seduced by the drippingly-gorgeous, scrumptious descriptions of how much better your roasties will be. Turn away now, I beg you, from the sunlit, golden crunchiness of the photography, the utterly delectable white fluffiness that awaits inside. While they are not telling any lies–these are indeed the best roasties in the world–they are not telling you the entire truth either.
Goose fat is a time-bomb, a great big, fat, sticky, greasy evil time-bomb that you will be responsible for placing in your own oven. Your roast potatoes will be the best you have ever tasted, but your family will have exhausted themselves flapping away at every smoke alarm in the house before they get to eat one. Even your kids will be wondering if it was “worth it”.
I’m sorry to say it is downhill from here. Goose Fat, The Aftermath is like a cruel horror movie. Evil stickiness will grip to every surface of your oven, it will splatter the elements, cling to the fan, work its way to lurk in hidden crevices that you did not even know existed. You will asphyxiate yourself with powerful chemicals in your battle to remove it. You will spend, spend, spend trying to find a product that will shift that sticky blanket, and no off-the-shelf product will. You will be unable to cook in the oven until you call in the professionals to exorcise this evil, because your neighbours will be calling in the fire brigade every time you throw open your kitchen doors to let out the clouds of acrid, foul black smoke following yet another fruitless attempt to get rid of the goose fat.
I speak from experience people, bitter, bitter experience. My advice if you are planning these for the holidays is to have a back up plan; either an uncontaminated second oven, or a pizza place on speed dial that you have checked in advance will still be open…
Spooky: when I wrote about the goose fat lobby above, I was of course being silly, but unbelievably such an organisation does exist, it’s called the “goose fat information service” and even has a celeb chef to front it. It could be called the “disinformation service” as they claim goose fat has a high smoke point but fail to say what that temperature is or provide any comparative info. High smoke point relative to what? Relative to lard and butter, yes, what they claim is true, but only by around 20 degrees C. Relative to lots of the most common cooking oils, the evil stuff does NOT have a high smoke point at only 190 degrees C compared to 240 degrees C for light olive oil for example. Blogs and websites all over the world are of course copying verbatim these arguably misleading statements, and this gets picked up in the media. The hard evidence I found is matched by my lived experience: if you cook goose fat at much above 190 degrees Celsius /375 degrees Farenheit, which I personally do not consider to be ragingly hot or hot enough to roast potatoes, the stuff is designed–by nature–to smoke like a blinking chimney on fire.