Cooking the Goose–From Pluck to Plate, Part 1

January 4, 2013

A Toulouse geese, one of the first we raised.

One of our most-visited posts here at the Godfrey Family Farms blog is the post about plucking geese. I wrote it back in early 2010 after I wasn’t able to find much information about how to pluck geese.

Later that year, we took the knowledge gained from plucking a couple geese and we processed a bunch. I think it was around 30 by the time we were done. That was exhausting.

Before we downsized the farm, we gave geese one more go. This past summer we ordered 30 or so goslings. I was thinking it would be fun to breed some next summer. We got Embdens for the table, then ordered a few Tufted Buffs because they look cool and they were supposed to be mild of temperament.

When it came time to butcher them in time for Christmas dinners, we allowed plenty of time, but still ran short and put out a call on our Facebook page for volunteers. We were so grateful when a couple friends showed up. We put them right to work.

We found, in the end, that those Tufted Buff geese were really difficult to pluck when compared to the Embdens. The Embdens are large, white geese. The Tufted Buffs are a light tan–just beautiful. We had about a half dozen of them, and they were growing a new set of feathers. Brown feathers. Short, brown feathers that are nearly impossible to get out. There was no way we’d be selling those geese. Nobody likes fuzzy food.

As a result, we ended up with more geese in our freezer than we planned. We also kept a couple as pasture ornaments and they’ve moved with us to our new mini-farm where they provide great entertainment with their antics.

We roasted a couple of geese that were in good shape, and enjoyed them immensely. My favorite way to roast them is to stuff them with mashed potatoes that have been mixed with some cream and caramelized onions. I can’t seem to locate that recipe online, but this one is close to what we’ve done.

I wanted to try something different, and since Brian was picking up one last batch of pork to fill the freezer, I needed to make some space. I didn’t want to roast the other geese I had because they were the Buffs that hadn’t plucked well. They were pretty feathered, and I just could not make fuzzy food sound or look appetizing.

I turned to the River Cottage Meat Book. If you don’t have it, you should. What an excellent resource for recipes and also generaly information about finding and cooking quality meat.

The recipe I chose looked more complicated than it was. Hugh (I feel like I know the guy, I’m sure he’d be OK with us being on a first name basis) gives a lot of explanation, and that can make it seem, at first glance, that a recipe is long, but the descriptions actually make the job easier since he so thoroughly describes the technique.

The first step was deboning the breast from the goose. I am slow at that, and it took me about a half hour to get both geese done and also to separate out the legs. I took all the skin off and put the carcasses and skin into a pan in the oven to render off the fat for use later. Someone who is better at this part would whiz right through the task. I saved out the legs for confit which I’ll be making today or tomorrow.

The original recipe leaves the skin on, but that wasn’t an option. The breasts soaked in a marinade of pineapple juice and soy (equal parts), ginger, and garlic. I skipped the chiles because my kids won’t eat anything with even a hint of spice. In retrospect, there would have been more leftovers for Brian and me if I’d included the chiles, so maybe next time :).

Basically, the breasts were seared then put into the oven.

I caramelized some pineapple (and if I’d known how incredible that was I might have bought more fresh pineapples!) and then poured in the strained marinade and reduced it before adding the goose breast back in. Served over rice, it was amazing with all the kids chiming in at how much they enjoyed it.

I did have plans to take a pic of the completed dish, but we got distracted.

Grab a copy of the River Cottage Meat Book (and I have no affiliation with the author other than being a fan), and try this out.

Next: Making confit with the goose legs. Stay tuned.





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