Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From Blind to Table

After numerous hunting trips this season, Cooper finally brought something home! He, his dad and our brother-in-law, Seth, got seven geese during a guided hunt in Harford County on Monday:

(UPDATE: Cooper wanted me to clarify that the guide shot one of the geese - the limit is two per person and they weren't doing anything illegal)
Side note: Cooper looks oddly petite here.

Cooper and the guide broke the geese down in the field and Cooper just brought home the breasts. I'd never cooked wild geese before, so I was a little nervous, but that is what the internet is for, right? Actually, there wasn't nearly as much specific guidance as I expected. I found Hank Shaw's blog most helpful (Cooper really likes his book Hunt, Gather, Cook).

Anyway, step one involved soaking the breasts in cold water for a few hours, to draw out the blood. Before this, the breasts were a deep red color. Actually, out of the water they were pretty dark, too, but the soaking did pull a lot of the blood from the meat:
Mmmm...raw goose.

Shaw recommends pairing goose with citrus flavors, or with fall fruits, like apples or pears. I went the pear route:

Since the pears were very firm, I sliced them and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sugar. A lot of the goose recipes suggest wrapping the breasts in bacon. I had already decided not to do that, but I liked the idea of bacon, so I threw a few slices on top of the pears, then added some liquid in the form of port. In the oven at 400 degrees, these took about an hour to soften - they probably could've stayed in even longer.
Mmmm...raw bacon.

Since this was my very first time cooking goose, I only cooked two of the breasts. If I screwed up, I didn't want to take all the meat with me. I started out with a quick marinade of red wine, Worcestershire, rosemary, garlic, Seasonello salt (we love that stuff) and pepper. After about an hour of marinating, I pulled the breasts and gave them a quick, but deep sear in olive oil over high-ish heat:
This made a mess. Olive oil splatters everywhere.

Once the meat was brown all over - and it did get brown fairly quickly (3 minutes for the first side, about 2 for the other side), I put it in a pan and added it to the oven, where it roasted for about 40 minutes until it was done (though our meat thermometer didn't say it was done - but that's another story, the sad tale of our inability to find a reliable meat thermometer):
Does that look like 135 degrees to you? No. Not to me, either. Thanks, thermometer.

While the meat was in the oven, I made a quick sauce with the pan drippings, adding shallots and red wine, then finishing with butter. Paired with the pears, the goose really did have nice flavor and while it was a little gamey, the "wild" flavor wasn't at all overwhelming.
Just add wine.

This paired really well with our new favorite wine (Saint Cosme Cote-du-Rhone) and overall, I was pretty happy with my first effort. Next time, though, I'll finish the goose at a lower temperature in the oven (no more than 350) and I'll go a little saucier on the sauce (I was expecting a little more fat to render from the goose, but it was really quite lean).

Next up: possibly involving the slow-cooker, then making a ragu. Or going the citrus route with an orangey pan sauce. We've got three more breasts left in our share, so we've got some room to experiment.


Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Nicely done! I never soak my ducks or geese because I want that flavor in them - it really is not that gamy, so give it a go sometime.

With those skinless breasts, you can do the whole thing on the stovetop - just keep the heat at medium to medium-low and let it cook through just like a steak. Do the "finger test" (Google it) to determine doneness.

Glad you liked the book - thanks!


Kit Pollard said...

Thanks for the comment, Hank, and for the advice! We've got everybody's meat in our fridge, and most of it hasn't been soaked, so there's lots of room to experiment...


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