I remember trying goose for the first time a few years ago. At the time, I thought a wild alpine Canada goose would be delicious anyway it was cooked, so I mistakenly let my friend roast it whole on the day it was harvested. That was a bad decision. While the meat tasted good, it was tough enough to use as the foundation of a house. After about 30 minutes of chewing I had finally finished my plate. After that experience I was determined to come up with an easy way to really get the most from our future goose harvests. I think I did just that with this recipe.
This recipe was developed with a big Canada goose, however it would work well with any tougher or less desirable game (jackrabbits, diver ducks, snow geese, etc).
1 whole goose, skin off (ideally properly aged- see my article on aging meat here)
4 lbs rendered fat ( I used beef fat, but you could use duck, goose, bear, pork, or vegetable oil, as long as it is liquid fat when it is heated).
2 white onions, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp black peppercorns (optional)
1 tbsp red pepper flake (optional)
3 bay leaves
Cast iron Dutch oven or similar large oven-safe vessel
- Skin goose and cut into manageable pieces and coat with salt and pepper.
- Sear heavily in your braising vessel on high heat.
- Remove goose from vessel, reduce heat and “deglaze” the pan with the carrot and onion. As the vegetables cook, their moisture should release the burned bits on the bottom.
- Add goose back to vessel and cover all ingredients with liquid fat of some sort.
(The above steps can be done days in advance and left to rest in the refrigerator or can be cooked right away)
- Cover braising vessel and leave in a 225˚ oven for at least 6 hours. I cooked mine for 10 and it came out perfectly. Put a pan under your braising vessel to catch any rogue oil drippings that could cause your oven to catch fire.
At this point, you can do a variety of things with the goose. Such as serving the legs whole over mashed potatoes and corn, or shredding the breasts and putting them in a Shepard’s pie.The options are endless. I chose to use the whole goose and make it into a pasta filling. If you are daunted by making pasta, don’t be. I encourage you to give it a shot. Here is how I did it.
GOOSE CONFIT TORTELLINI
1 goose confit recipe, plucked from the bone (make sure to get the carrot and onion from the braising liquid as well)
1 tub of ricotta cheese ( or 6-8 oz of a similar soft cheese)
2 tbsp of braising liquid, strained
250 g bread flour (or high gluten flour)
3 large eggs
1 tbsp braising fat
1 tsp salt
1 splash of water
(adapted from King Arthur’s pasta recipe found here)
For the amount of filling you will get from one goose, I recommend doing 4-5x the recipe for fresh pasta. Alternatively, if you don’t want to make your own pasta you can get fresh lasagna sheets from some grocery stores. Those will work just as well. If you can’t find them, try using the filling to make egg rolls- wonton wrappers are in most grocery stores. Fresh pasta is worth the work though—trust me!
Pasta machine (I use the Kitchenaid attachment)
Pastry brush (fingers will work if you don’t have one)
Friends to help assemble
Beer to bribe friends
Combine all ingredients for filling and mix well with your hands. The meat should break down and become a homogeneous mixture with the cheese and veggies. Season the mixture with salt and pepper once you get it to the right consistency. Leave the mixture in fridge to set.
Add the flour to a mixer with a dough hook attachment and slowly add the eggs one by one. Once the eggs are incorporated add the braising liquid. At this point, the flour should be a very dry dough. Add just enough water to get it to come together and then a splash more. Knead the dough on high speed for 5-7 minutes. The final product should be slightly tacky and highly glutenous. Let the dough rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
During this time get your assembly line set up. We had one person rolling the pasta, one person cutting rounds, a person filling, and one folding. The more hands you have the quicker the process will be (obviously).
Roll the pasta through your machine. It should roll out smoothly, making a nice velvety sheet of pasta. If it is cracking and not staying together, brush it with water and fold it in half before rolling it through the machine again. Repeat this until it holds together well. Alternatively, if it is too sticky and won’t roll through your machine, knead in flour in small amounts until you get the right consistency. I have made pasta many times and still have not found a recipe that is exact enough to avoid this step. Differences in gluten content in the flour make this unavoidable. It’s something I have learned to enjoy, like sighting in a compound bow. Take your time and make sure it’s spot on.
Once the consistency is correct, roll the pasta out to the desired thickness, keeping in mind the pasta will be folded (we rolled out to setting “5” on the Kitchenaid attachment). Cut the pasta using a ring mold and but a small amount of filling in the middle. Brush the sides of the circle with water or egg wash and fold in half. You should have what looks like a pot-sticker at this point. Take the two ends of the straight edge and fold them onto each other. Coat the pasta in flour or cornmeal and layout in a single layer to dry or freeze.
Congratulations- you just made a tortellini. Now make 500 more with all the filling!
If making that many doesn’t sound fun, you can do what we did and make a lasagna. To do this, leave your pasta in sheets and cut to fit the size of your pan. Layer pasta, meat, cheese, and any veggies you want to have in whatever order you desire. Cook at 425 for around 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is well browned.
I know that fresh pasta is a lot of work, but your guests will appreciate the extra time put in. This is a goose I would be proud to serve at any restaurant. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!