In the Czech kitchen: How to cook (or book!) your St. Martin's feast this year

Ambiente chefs guide us through the process of breaking down a whole goose in addition to tips for where to make reservations in case you'd rather not!


Written by Ambiente Published on 08.11.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 16.11.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The tradition of St. Martin's Day each November sees most Czech restaurants serving goose specialties. Classic goose dishes remain popular, like roasted leg or breast served with cabbage and dumplings. Goose pâté or caldoun (broth with noodles and vegetables) often start the meal. However, chefs offer variety beyond classics using different cuts and offal.

For cooks in the Czech kitchen, staying home and making a goose is also an option. Ambiente chefs shared their tips for butchering a whole goose at home and serving it with traditional sides.

Breaking down a goose

In the Czech Republic, individual goose parts are rarely available. It's more affordable to buy a whole goose and render it into different cuts, says chef Martin Štangl head of the Štangl restaurant in Prague. The goal is tender, flavorful goose parts and sides, says chef Štangl. Play with spices and acids. Don't waste any part of the bird!

Goose parts and prep

  • 1.Line a cutting board with a wet towel to prevent slipping. Use a sharp boning or poultry knife.
  • 2.Wear closed-toe, sturdy shoes in case the knife is dropped.
  • 3.Clean and pat dry the goose thoroughly.
  • 4.Cut off the wings close to the body, breaking at the joints. Set aside.
  • 5.Cut off excess neck skin.
  • 6.Cut off thighs, breaking at the hip joints. Set aside.
  • 7.Turn goose breast-side up.
  • 8.Cut from the neck to the sternum to split the breastplate.
  • 9.Cut each breast off the carcass, following the ribs. Trim any excess skin.
  • 10.Split the carcass lengthwise for easier handling. Remove lungs and wash.

CABBAGE ON THE SIDE: Sauté cabbage with onion, and whole spices. Stew lightly covered until soft. Add vinegar, wine, and sugar to balance flavor. Grate raw potato into the cabbage for texture.

Cooking tips

  • Breasts are best grilled until just pink inside. Slowly heat the skin-side down in a cold pan for crispier skin.
  • Thighs are ideal for cooked "confit" by slow cooking in fat until fall-off-the-bone tender. Salt and spice the thighs (for example in cinnamon, star anise, ginger). Slow cook in goose fat at 80 degrees Celsius for 12 hours. Shred confit thighs into rillettes spread with fat, salt, pepper, and spices.
  • Roast leftover bones to make rich stock or sauce. Roasted bones release collagen-rich fat you can use for confiting thighs.
  • Save excess skin for rendering into fat or cooking potatoes or for cooking onion bases and frying. Fat keeps several months in the fridge.
  • Butchering a whole goose allows for the use of all parts for different dishes. Follow these steps for perfectly cooked goose on St. Martin's Day.

ORIGIN STORY: The holiday's folktale origins associate St. Martin with geese. One legend has their cackling disrupting his sermon, leading to their roasting. Another tells of St. Martin hiding among geese to avoid appointment as bishop, only to be betrayed by the chef.

Ambiente restaurant offerings for St. Martin's Day

Lokál: Goose will be served in all Lokál locations from Nov. 10 to 12. What to expect? Roasted goose legs, cabbage, dumplings, and lokše (a type of potato pancake). If you want to enjoy the goose from start to finish, start with a goose pâté or a traditional caldoun as an appetizer. Reserve your portion in advance.

Kuchyň: Treat yourself to a four-course St. Martin's meal at Prague Castle. Enjoy goose pâté as a starter, roast goose breast with cabbage for the main, and pancakes as a dessert. Book here from Nov. 8-15.

Café Savoy: On weekends of Nov. 11-12, savor kaldoun, roast goose, and St. Martin’s cake. Reserve a table on their website.

Kantýna: While the chefs are tight-lipped about the menu, from Nov. 7-12 they are encouraging visitors to wear loose clothes. Book here.

Čestr: Along with classics, taste confit goose stomachs, and hearts as appetizers from Nov. 10-12. Order portions here.

Pastacaffé: Enjoy confit leg plus pâté, kaldoun, and fritters. Excellent sweet poppy seed cake for dessert. Check the website to reserve seats.

In the Czech Kitchen is a weekly column written in cooperation with the culinary experts from Ambiente. Established in 1995, the Prague-based collective of pubs, restaurants, and fine-dining outlets has transformed the Czech culinary landscape and lent to the widespread awareness of quality food service and production in Czechia. Follow their socials or book your table at

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