I decided I would pluck my first goose. I’d heard again and again from every hunter I’d watched, read, or met that old Jim Harrison quote–something along the lines of “it’s a sin against god and man to skin a bird.” After hearing that so many times did I really even have a choice? I read a quick tutorial with plenty of warnings about how awful the process would be, but I still was not prepared. It took me a full five hours to pluck and clean that bird.
The second time around I took the path of sin. Skinning a bird was also new to me, so the complete process, from fresh bird to trimmed breasts and thighs, still took me around two hours. There is definitely something lost with the skin, but I don’t think that I’ll pluck every goose from here on out.
I’d decided that I would corn the breasts to make reubens, but that left me with the legs, wings, and the other trimmings. I went with my first instinct and decided to make a stew. Goose stew seemed logical to me as the meat resembles lean beef both visually and in flavor. This is also a good use for the wings and legs, as these tougher pieces of meat do well with several hours of low, slow cooking.
Two goose legs, wings, and whatever trimmings you have leftover.
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 large white onion
3 celery stalks
1 dozen or so cremini mushrooms
1 large parsnip
4 medium red potatoes
1 bunch collards or kale
1 head garlic with the top chopped off
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups red wine (I like Chianti)
4 cups stock – goose if you have it, but any stock will do
Salt + Pepper
All vegetables should be chopped coarsely. Not huge, but this is more of a rustic stew. A bite of potato should be a bite of potato.
Begin by setting the oven to 340.
Season the goose liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the goose. Don’t play with the meat in this time, allow it to sear to a nice brown crust on one side before you flip it. When both sides are browned, remove the meat from the pot.
Melt the butter and add the garlic and vegetables. Stir the vegetables regularly, scraping the bottom of the pot, and cook until they begin to color and soften, around ten minutes.
Add the rosemary, bay leaves, and wine, and reduce the wine for around ten minutes.
Return the meat to the pot and add the broth. Cover and put in the oven for two and a half hours.
When it is done, remove the meat and allow it to rest for five minutes. Debone the legs and chop the meat into bite-sized morsels. Return the meat to the pot. Remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves, and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and into the stew.
Serve with a loaf of freshly baked bread. My go-to is the New York Times No Knead Bread recipe. You need to start it a day ahead, but it is not a lot of work and it always comes out delicious.