The first real snow fell over the weekend, marking the end of gardening season. Which, in my book, means it is time to start hunting.
Hunting season started a couple weeks ago, but I have been too busy with work and finishing things up in the garden to take advantage. This past weekend was an epic kitchen adventure filled with many hours over the stove canning and freezing produce. The garden is mostly finished and now hopefully I can start spending some of that time in the woods.
It seems only right that on the eve of my first hunt I prepare a meal with some of the leftovers from last season. I saved a couple goose breasts for this occasion. The recipe I am using is based heavily on one from Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook and many other wonderful books about wild foods. I changed a number of things, but his recipe is certainly the backbone. You can see it here.
Aside from a couple oranges, a bottle of ouzo, and a loaf of bread, this entire meal came either from my garden or my shotgun. That is a good feeling.
Orange Ouzo Goose
2 Canada goose breasts
1 rendered goose fat (or olive oil)
1 small onion or shallot, minced (I used a small onion from my garden)
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds (a bit of dried fennel or anise seed would work here too)
2 oz. ouzo
2 cups goose stock (or chicken stock)
½ tsp corn starch
Juice of two oranges
Zest of one orange
Salt + Pepper
Score the skin of the goose breast, salt liberally, and allow to sit at room temperature for at least half an hour. This time can be used to render a bit of goose fat if you need to. When the thirty minutes are up, bring the pan up to medium heat and place the breasts in skin down.
Cook the breasts skin down until the subcutaneous fat has rendered and the skin is crisp and brown (up to 10 minutes). When the skin is finished, flip and sear the meat side for around 3 minutes. Once there is a good brown on the back of the breast, use tongs to sear all remaining sides. Ideally the breasts should have a nice sear all around and be rare to medium-rare in the middle. Once seared, place the goose on a cutting board to rest.
At this point, you will add the onion, fennel, and red pepper to the pan and turn it to high heat. Saute these for a minute or so, but do not allow the onions to brown. Remove the pan from heat and add the ouzo. If you are cooking with gas it may flame up here, so be prepared for that. Return the pan to heat, scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and allow the ouzo to reduce a bit and cook off the alcohol. Once you’ve scraped everything up, add the stock and orange juice. Reduce this over high heat, stirring regularly, until it begins to thicken a bit. Stir in the cornstarch and allow it to cook for a minute. The sauce should now resemble a thin gravy. Add orange zest and salt and pepper to taste and allow to cook only briefly before removing from heat. For a thinner sauce, you can strain it with a sieve, though I don’t mind the more rustic look.
Serve by spreading some sauce on a plate and covering with slices of goose breast. And be sure to serve with a nice loaf of bread to clean up any leftover sauce!