The Great Goose Experiment

Pun fully intended, a goose is one tough bird. I'm not talking about the farm raised specimens offered at Whole Foods, perfect for a Christmastime roast. I'm talking about wild Canada Goose, shot instead of bought. A description of a food product that includes the words "fresh," "local" and "wild" usually means that the item will be of the highest quality. Fresh, local wild goose is the exception.
According to longtime hunters, wild goose meat has not always been the tough, livery product that it is today. Back when corn fields were harvested by less meticulous, modern machines, there was a bounty of kernels for the geese to feast on. This was the wild fowl alternative to "grass raised, corn finished." When applied to cows, this term means that they have been raised naturally on grasses, but given corn in the months before slaughter make their meat more tender and less gamey. For geese, this meant a diet that was based primarily on field and aquatic grasses, and corn when it became availably at harvest time.
My friend is an avid and morally inclined hunter who likes to cook what he kills. This is a problem when he shoots wild geese because of the unsavory nature of their meat. Tired of making jerky (the one preparation that seems to make it palatable), he decided to collaborate with me in a culinary experiment. I have 8 goose breasts in my oven as I type.

Originally, we wanted to make sausage with his kill. From online hunter's forums, sausage seemed like an ideal vessel for goose meat because one can mix it with spices and a good amount of pork butt to mask the livery flavor (vegetarians avert your eyes: one recipe on a hunting/cooking blog even elicited the reaction "mmmmmmmmmm, i want to shoot a goose or duck now for sure just to try this.") Unfortunately I own neither a sausage maker nor a meat grinder. When I called my local butcher to beg the use of his, I got a firm "no, we have inspector come."

Without the sausage option I was forced to take another route. After much consideration, I chose the confit method. In confit, typically duck or goose legs are rubbed with salt and aromatics, left to marinate over night (or even longer), and then cooked at a very low temperature in their own rendered fat. Stored in this fat, confit can last for weeks if handled properly. I was hoping that the dry rub I used (a combination of star anise, fennel seeds, brown sugar and salt) would cut the gamey flavor, and the "low and slow" cooking method would turn the tough breast meat into fork tender deliciousness. In case of emergency, I threw in a few Pekin duck legs to feed my dinner guests.

The breasts have a few more hours of cooking, but I'll let you know how it goes…

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
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            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

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            Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts , Online (campus option available)
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
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