Forgive me for not posting. But boy oh boy I think you’ll forgive me after this one.
I am very lucky to have a generous coworker who shares wild game with me that her boyfriend hunts. I’ve gotten elk roasts, deer sausage, snow goose, ducks, etc. I’m spoiled, I know. And I figure that it’s only fair that I share these riches. When a friend asked if she could partake in my goose when I got around to cooking it, I figured it was time to have another dinner party. The theme of the night was a A Fowl Affair and guests were encouraged to bring poultry inspired dishes. Here were my contributions:
I loved making this because it seems so decadent and impressive and I’ve definitely been cashing in on bragging rights, but it’s also one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. Ever.
First: Procure some duck breasts, skin on. This is particularly fun because duck meat is the most beautiful deep blood red color and it definitely got me pumped for the dish. Since this is a wild duck, the breasts were considerably smaller than I was expecting, but there shouldn’t be any adjustments to the recipe other than perhaps I will plan on curing them for a few days less in the future.
Second: Bury them deep in kosher salt and place in the fridge overnight.
Third: Rinse the salt off the breast and pay dry. Cover generously in at least black pepper. In the future I will definitely add juniper berries and other forest-y flavors. Wrap in cheese cloth (tightly, ideally, oh well!), and hang in fridge in a well circulated area. Don’t crowd it.
Finally: Pull from fridge two weeks later. Slice it as thin as you can. This is definitely the hardest part of the whole ordeal. The flavor at the end is undeniably ducky and rich, with the fatty skin really shining. I invented an appetizer of crostini with goat cheese, fig jam, and prosciutto:
cat meets duck
Addendum: What to do with the rest of your duck carcass? Why, broth of course! I simply tossed the bones and rest of the meat in a medium sauce pan, topped with water, tossed in a couple garlic cloves and peppercorns. Simmered for about 45 minutes, regularly skimming the fat, and straining it through cheesecloth. This broth was put to very good uses: a simple risotto and a mug of broth with fresh squeezed orange juice and a touch of salt.
On to the main course: Roasted Wild Goose
The main thing to know about wild goose, like many types of game, is that you can’t cook it the same way you would for a farmed bird. This mostly boils down to the fact that you are dealing with a significantly smaller bird (4 pounds compared to 12 pounds) so the relative muscle size within the animal is different, as is the skin thickness. In a lot of ways this was pretty similar to roasting a 4 pound chicken.
First: Brine overnight in a couple gallons of water with a cup each of: brown sugar, salt, and ground pepper.
Second: Pat dry, and generous cover the outside of your bird with salt and fresh ground pepper. Then brown in bacon fat, or in a pinch (as here) salt pork:
Third: Re-season outside and inside of bird with salt and pepper, stuff in full of whatever stuffing you like (here we had an apple, onion, currant bread stuffing), truss, and bake at 350 degrees. Because goose can dry out very quickly, roast the bird on a rack over a roasting pan with 1/2-1 inch deep chicken stock (refill as necessary). With this technique, and the shorter cooking time of a wild bird, you can save yourself the constant basting that is normally required for a successful goose. Roast until the thigh registers 165 degrees. Be careful that you properly place the thermometer, as with such a small bird it’s easy to get a false measurement and pull it to early. I know that from, uhhh, personal experience.
Fourth: Let rest for about a half hour, and then have your friend Stephen carve it into this beautiful plate. As Stephen carved, he even found the buckshot! Oh the things that entertain urbanites:
The night was a smash:
The hosts and their bounty!
Roast goose, duck ragout with parpadelle, Cornish hen, butternut squash mash, roasted veggies, stuffing, and a chickpea carrot green salad.
The guests, and a host who maybe just maybe had already had enough wine.
Credit where credit is due: Duck prosciutto is a recipe clipping I’ve had around from Cooking Light for years. The goose recipe was modified from this informative Field and Stream article.