Cooking the Goose–From Pluck to Plate, Part 2

January 6, 2013
A Toulouse geese, one of the first we raised.

A Toulouse geese, one of the first we raised.

We plucked a goose. We cooked a whole goose. I tried an incredible method for cooking goose breast. Now it is time to deal with the legs.

Goose legs get a pretty good workout around the farm. Geese like to run about, chasing children and generally getting into the business of all the other farm critters. When I see their little busybodies running about the farmyard tattling on everything that happens, I am reminded of the depiction of geese in Charlotte’s Web. I think E.B. White got their personalities down pretty well.

Running about builds muscle and muscle tends to be lean and, if not cooked carefully, tough. The solution? Confit.

To confit something is to preserve it, and the method of making duck or goose leg confit is pretty straightforward. There are many recipes out there, and all have the same simple steps–Salt the legs for several hours, cook slowly in fat, cover in a layer of fat and store.

I am including pictures here from my first attempt at making duck confit. It turned out great, but I can’t recall which recipe I used. This time, with the geese legs, I followed the basic steps but didn’t really measure anything. No worries, it is the process, not necessarily the precision of measurement, that determines the outcome.

When I made duck leg confit, I had the skin on, so these pics show that, but when I made the goose leg confit, I was using fuzzy goose legs so I did take the skin off prior to prep. I’m not worrying about the meat drying out without the skin because all of the cooking time is done with plenty of fat covering the legs.

The first step is to salt the legs. I’ve seen recipes that use a few teaspoons of salt. I opted for the method that covers the legs in salt. I want the moisture out of those legs. I also added some sprigs of oregano. After I got all the legs nestled in on top of a layer of salt, I covered them completely with more salt.

The next step is to refrigerate. When I did the duck legs, I left them in for a full 24 hours. For the goose legs, I’m going for 8 hours. The duck legs turned out pretty salty, and I’m hoping to cut back on that a little bit. There are a few ways to do that this time around–I hope. This part comes from reading, not from experience. One way to make the goose legs less salty is to reduce the time in the salt. Another way is to rinse the legs after the 24 hours, but that puts moisture back into the legs, so I don’t want to do that (but some say I could let them air dry for another 4 hours to re-dry them). I’m going to try the 8 hours and see what I think.

The legs will be fully cooked, so it isn’t dry curing in the sense that I have to rely on salt and time to preserve the meat.

Once the legs have been dried, I brush off all the salt. I put mine into the crock pot on low, but you could have them on the stove or in the oven at a low temp. I put in generous amounts of fresh oregano, lemon slices and whole cloves of garlic.

Finally, I covered the legs with fat. For the duck legs, I used duck fat from our ducks. This time, I had a few quarts of goose fat from geese I cooked around Christmas time, so I used some of that for the goose legs. If you don’t have any duck or goose fat, you could use olive oil. The legs then need to be cooked at a low heat for a few hours. I tried to keep them from bubbling, not sure if that mattered in the end.

I like to cook until the meat is falling off the bone, but some people prefer to leave the meat on the bone for a nice presentation later. I shred the meat and pack it into small jars for storage in the refrigerator. Before storing the meat, it needs to be covered with some more fat. I strained off what I’d used for cooking and put that in. Any remaining fat can be used for cooking (fried potatoes are our favorite use!).

We enjoy the confit chopped up to top salads, kind of like putting bacon on a salad.


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