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What to do with a wild goose?

So I was given a frozen whole, dressed, 3 lb wild Canadian (?) goose. After searching the boards and trying to decide what to do with it, I've given up from too much info overload. Does anyone have a recommendation how I should approach this critter? It's very lean, rather small and I'm worried about mishandling so valuable a culinary gift. It came fully frozen so I'd like to figure out a plan before I begin defrosting it. I was thinking wild rice should definitely play apart in the dressing and I'm not planning on stuffing it with anything other than aromatics as the poor things' cavity is too small for more than a few bits of onion, carrot, and orange unless advice points me in another direction.

Do I brine? Spatchcock and roast? Cover with bacon or some kind of fatty meat? Soak in milk? Ack! I was so relieved it came without feathers, head and feet I didn't stop to think what to do with it when I got it. I do have some lovely venison sausage that could be used as part of the dish too, if that seems appropriate.

All the online recipies I've found seem to be geared towards domestic birds. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Canada Goose (sorry for the nudge).

    Lucky to have it! I wish that I could go out and plug one. It's going to be very lean and gamey in that iron-y liver-y way that really gets my pulse going. You won't get much out of the legs and thighs so my suggestion is to salt them and then confit (familiar?).

    With the breast, I say spatchcock it and roast it with apples and sausage. Braised red cabbage would go well, I'm sure. Go for the rare side which means that after defrosting, let it warm up on the countertop before it goes in the oven.

    Very lucky score but don't be afraid of it! Just thaw it out and have at it.

    I suggest staying away from "Game cookbooks," too. In my experience, the ones done in America all seem to be focused on making the wild meat taste as much like supermarket meat as possible, thus the soaking in milk, condensed mushroom soup, etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Ernie Diamond

      Will do. That Canada goose was a lucky break from a hunting friend. And yes, a confit is a good idea, but where to find goosefat? Hum...I'll check with my butcher. Thanks!

      1. re: aggiecat

        Presumably, if you're going to pull the breast, pull the skin from its back, sides,and butt and render out the fat. Annually, we shoot about 40-50 honkers..lots go into summer sausage and a few of the smaller, young birds will get plucked. We've
        brined them and grilled them over smoking hot coals. Also breast a lot of birds out..fajitas, stews, chili, stroganoff...whatever you would make with beef. Mmmmm

        1. re: VeggieHead

          GOOSE SAUSAGE?!?! *head explodes*

          That sounds... just... amazing... Good lord. I'm all verklempt thinking about it.

          1. re: VeggieHead

            confit may be lovely, but I think it would be tragic if the OP didn't fry some potatoes in that goose fat!

            1. re: danna

              Assuming this lean looking little bird I have gives up enough fat to do it, the pommes will definitely be frite in my house.

          2. re: aggiecat

            I'm lucky in that where I live, I can usually buy goose fat for around $8 a quart.
            That said, you don't HAVE to use goose fat to confit the goose (or duck, or whatever). It may be ideal, but in the end, and in a pinch, I've found that pork fat or even chicken fat works quite well.

        2. Goose rillettes are WONDERFUL. I have the fortune of receiving and cooking wild goose (and duck, etc.) and love it with roasted applesauce, too.

          1. As previous posters have pointed out, wild goose is a very, very lean gamey bird. You basically have to cook it for a very short period of time or a very long period of time. Here are a few ideas.

            1) Marinate the skinless, boneless breasts in a flank steak type marinade. Grill til rare. Slice very thin. Serve with a cumberland-type sauce or a fruit/chili salsa.
            2) Marinate chunked, skinless boneless breasts in red wine, bay, onion, garlic,etc. for 2 days. Drain. Proceed with your favorite coq au vin recipe. Braise in very low oven for 3-4 hours. This is my preferred method.
            3) If you insist on trying to roast the whole bird, do it inside a Reynolds plastic roasting bag. Add a little broth, some oj concentrate, and sprinkle of four. Still, cook only until still pink.

            I find the legs to be too stringy and sinewy to be worth the bother. You might try a confit, but don't spend too much on the fat as it might be money down the drain.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pappy

              Well, that sounds like some very good advice. I'll be thawing tonight and start the marinating tomorrow with plans to braise on Sunday while we are at church. I do have a great coq au vin recipe and often wished for some old chicken to cook it with. Here's hoping we have a nice surprise for Sunday dinner. Or we could be eating out. Either way it's an adventure.

              1. re: aggiecat

                i can't WAIT to hear how it turns out!

            2. One little item that you might overlook is that the bird was most likely taken with steel shot. These may remain in the meat and can be a little tough on the teeth. I love them with wild rice stuffing and roasted in a roasting bag. Enjoy!

              3 Replies
              1. re: NVJims

                Oooh, yea, Well, update. I forgot we had a baptism this weekend and my whole Saturday and Sunday were spent out of town so I am looking to cook said bird next weekend.

                I was wondering about the shot pellets. Humm, anyone think a stud finder would work? They are actually metal finders looking for nails in the studs so...might bleep at me if I pass it over a pellet. I think I'll give it a try and report back what happens. :)

                1. re: aggiecat

                  The mental image of someone standing over a skinned goose with a stud finder cracks me up. Thanks for that! :D

                  1. re: aggiecat

                    You'll be able to see where the shot entered the bird... it won't likely have traveled too deeply. Most times, if shot with large enough steel shot, you'll be able to drop a paring knife in the wound channel, then put your finger down there and fish it out. Besides, you'll want to get any coagulated blood out, if possible.

                2. Make sure to get all the buckshot out of it.

                  My redneck buddies cook their chukkar with teriyaki.

                  You could cook it mexican style. Braised goose tacos. Yum!

                  1. A friend of mine cooks these all the time since he shoots 'em off his porch over cocktails. He spends a lot of time in Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, so he plucks them, stuffs them with all kinds of dried fruit, walnuts, hot chiles & sweet peppers, then slow roasts them for a good 4 hours in those oven bags. Quite delicious, especially with one of his justly famous pilafs.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Spot

                      Wow! I've been that sounds great. Especially with the hot peppers.

                    2. Update - or lack thereof

                      Still no duck as of yet. I've run into time management problems for the last weekend and I'm looking at next weekend, after the cub scout camp-out. And no, I am not gonna chance duck au vin for a bunch of 8 year olds, no matter how chowish they are. I'm thinking Frito pie, smores, and veggies for the cubs. Sunday dinner, I hope, will be M. Le Duck.

                      1. The Jr. League of Lafayette LA has sevderal outstanding cookbooks. The yellow and green one is nice and has a goose and oyster gumbo recipe. Bake the goos until tender and get the meat all off and cook your regular gumbo. Add the oysters at the last minute.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Littleman

                          I never in a million years would have thought about a gumbo, but it makes sense. Although I made a red beans and rice yesterday with a smoked venison sausage that curiously didn't work. We decided that the smokiness of the sausage competed with the other flavors of the red beans and rice. They couldn't take the sausage competition and our usual pickled pork would have been better. I wonder if that would be an issue with gumbo and wild goose, will they play nicely together?

                        2. Folks the goose is cooked! and it was delicious. So I went with the Poule au vin variation. it went for 8 hours in a crock pot with:

                          8 sliced of cooked crumbled bacon
                          12 oz of pearl onions (I use frozen 'cause I hate to peel those things) leave them frozen
                          12 oz baby cut carrots, freeze them if they aren't already frozen
                          2 c brown mushrooms quartered
                          2 c red wine (cabernet sauvingon from Messina Hoff a Texas winery)
                          1 c chicken stock
                          1 whole goose, kinda, partially thawed
                          1 bouqet garni w, bay leave, thyme and parsley, salt and peper to taste

                          So the whole bird, liquids, herbs and veg (except mushrooms) went into the crock and cooked for 8 hours. I pulled the bird out when I got home, rinsed the mushrooms added them to the pot and turned it up to high. Meanwhile I picked the bird and made a flour slurry with some more red wine, added it all back into the post and let it simmer happily while I got the frozen loaf of "artisan" bread cooked.

                          The whole family loved it and the 8 year old said yum! so notes about prep and results:
                          previous experience with the crock pot has taught me that even though they say you shouldn't, some thing just turn out better if they go in frozen. Vegetables like onion and carrots are like that as they will otherwise cook to mush. I wasn't going to be able to get home at lunchtime and start the crock then so I had to figure out a way to delay the cooking process. I used the whole bird because even though it was in the fridge for 2 days it was still too frozen to cut up.

                          The meat was still a trifle stringy and any parts left out of the brasing liquid dried out very quickly. There was a definite gamey hint to the meat but it was by no means pronounced or a problem. I know why those French farmwives choose this method to cook up the old hen that's been running around the farmyard for a while, it's dead easy and results in a heavenly, flavorful dish. Yum. Now I'd really like to try it with an elderly farm bird and see how the taste differs. Or a duck, duck might be good too.

                          Oh and no hating on Texas wines, you need to try them and see some of our areas produce superior wines.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: aggiecat

                            Sounds great!

                            If you get another, our friend did small hunks of breast meat on the grill, wrapped in pieces of thick bacon. It was wonderful. I suspect he did marinade/brine before cooking.

                            1. re: cleobeach

                              Indeed, you must marinate the chunks of goose (also great with some of the more gamey species of duck (Scaup, Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Shoveler). I usually make a soy-based marinade with some kick to it, as it stands up to the full flavor of wild fowl. In addition to the bacon, I will sometimes add a sliver of fresh jalapeno, serrano, onion(red, green, or sweet) dried cherry, candied orange peel, cilantro, or a combination of a few. Weather permitting, I prefer the grill, but have also put them in the cast iron skillet atop the stove or broiled them. I would advise against baking them, as the fowl will overcook, by the time the bacon is perfect. Have converted several people who "don't like duck". Make sure you make a bundle of them... they don't last long!

                              1. re: VeggieHead

                                Make sure you make a bundle of them... they don't last long! - They certainly do not!

                                Our host is very talented when it comes to cooking what he hunts. There was one "I hate game" gal in the bunch and she chowed down many pieces of the goose, exclaiming the entire time that she could believe how good it was.

                                1. re: cleobeach

                                  I'm still trying to convert a co-worker. She is always suspicious (justifiably so) of anything I bring to work that contains meat, knowing it could be duck, goose, deer, bunny, or pheasant, though I've never tricked her in nearly 6 years. I always have to reassure her of it's contents... haha

                          2. The way you gotta cook it is cut the breasts out and let soak in half vinegar and half water for 12 to 24 hours. (I like to change out the water often to keep it fresh) after that cut the breasts into about 2inch cubes. then get a good Creole or Cajun seasoning and apply to meat then get a little bit of cream cheese and put a jalapeno slice on top of that.wrap all of it up with bacon and grill it. It is by far my favorite it wont let you down