The Great Goose Experiment Part II

In my previous post, I detailed the beginning of my attempt to cook wild Canada Goose, a bird whose meat is tough, livery and difficult to make into a meal. I chose the confit method, marinating the breasts (and some fool-proof, emergency duck legs) in a spice rub overnight, and then cooked the meat in duck fat, garlic and thyme. My butcher didn't have enough duck fat, so I also added olive oil so that the meat was totally submerged in fat. I covered the pan in foil and placed it in a 200 F oven (180 F is ideal for confit, but 200 F was the lowest temperature my oven could be set at). Hopes were high, but expectations were low. My hunter friend who shot the geese warned that few had been able to make the meat tasty, or even edible.

The duck legs were done within 4 hours, and were everything confit duck legs should be — the meat was moist, flavorful and effortless to pull from the bone. Testing the goose breasts with a knife, it was clear they needed more time. Just before the guests arrived for the midday meal, I tested them again. Six hours of cooking had rendered them tender. I pulled some of the meat off and tasted it. There was none of the livery flavor others had warned about. The goose was rich and tasted of wild game, without being gamey. The experiment was, against all odds, a success.

I have written a version of the recipe below. Although I haven't tried a sausage preparation with goose, I recommend this one because the flavor of the goose comes through. It’s softened by the spices and cooking method instead of masked by other ingredients. It's so good, that I may have to take up shooting geese myself…

Canada Goose Confit

Ingredients:
For Goose and Dry Rub
8 goose breasts, about 5 lbs, skinned and cleaned of sinew and silver skin
1/2 cup ground star anise
1/4 cup ground coriander
1 cup ground fennel seed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups kosher salt

For Confit
Enough duck fat, and if necessary, olive oil to cover breasts in pan
12 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 bunch thyme

Procedure:

  1. Mix the spice rub together rub over the goose breasts, coating thoroughly.
  2. Store in a bag in the refrigerator 10-12 hours or overnight.
  3. When the goose is done marinating, rinse the breasts thoroughly so that no spice rub remains. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Preheat over to 180 F, or the lowest setting on your oven
  5. If rendering solid duck fat – place duck fat in a pot over low heat and allow to turn into a clear liquid. Low heat is important, otherwise you'll color or burn the fat.
  6. Arrange breasts in a hotel pan or baking dish, and scatter crushed garlic and thyme over them.
  7. Pour rendered fat over breasts, and if there's not enough to cover, add olive oil to pan just to cover.
  8. Cover the pan in tinfoil, and place in oven. Check every couple of hours, but give 6-8 hours for the goose to become tender.
  • If serving immediately, goose can be taken out of the pan and served. Strain and store the duck fat/olive oil for later use, as well as the garlic.
  • If storing for later use, transfer the goose to a large container. Pour duck fat through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, leaving meat juices in the bottom of the pan and reserving the delicious garlic. Pour the strained fat over the goose. Let the fat and goose cool at room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator, covered, until serving.
  • Suggestions for serving: there are a million ways to serve confit. For my dinner party, I spread the garlic used in the cooking process over baguette slices and topped it with the goose, some cranberry horseradish chutney and a drizzle of the duck fat/olive oil cooking juice. Those who have tried it know it be true: there is little that duck fat can't make delicious.