Yeah, me neither! The thought NEVER crossed my mind. I actually never looked at a goose of any kind and thought about what they might taste like. I don’t think I’ve EVER looked at any live animal and wondered how they would taste – butchered, cooked and served on a plate on my dining room table. I guess I’ve never been that hungry.
For a brief time during my early teens, I lived on a farm with my grandparents. Before I was born, it was a potato farm – but it hadn’t been used for any real farming for many years. My grandfather raised waterfowl. It was a hobby he took up after his retirement. It was his passion and my grandmother’s pet-peeve. He constructed man-made ponds and filled them with geese, ducks, swans and other exotic fowl. From a distance it was a beautiful scene. But up close, it wasn’t so pretty. The ground was bare of any grass or ground cover… just hard mud covered with a variety of fecal matter. The pond water was stagnant and murky. And the geese and swans were territorial. If we walked near them, they hissed and spat and chased us. The ducks minded their own business and never caused us any fear. From my narrow point of view, this hobby or business served no purpose. Perhaps that’s what caused my grandmother’s consternation. But I honestly don’t know what my grandfather was doing taking care of those animals every day. All I know is we never ate duck or goose. Once or twice we had the eggs and they weren’t very tasty. Food was not something I thought of when running away from the geese that extended their long necks and spit and hissed while chasing us away from the ponds.
So, George and I went to Canada the weekend of October 22nd. While we were away, our son Erik went goose hunting. And when we came home, Erik brought us the breasts of two Canada geese. Just a coincidence, I think. There are seven different subspecies of Canada geese and, apparently, there is much “confusion and debate among ornithologists” about these subspecies. I didn’t see the geese before Erik shot them and will not enter such a debate with only the breasts for identification. He said they were Canada geese and I didn’t ask what subspecies.
Cooking goose meat was new territory for me. Cooking wild game of any sort was actually new for me. Erik is an avid hunter. But this was the first time he ever brought home any game. When he was younger, he used to hunt for Osama Bin Laden. He and his childhood friend, Brad Darling, printed pictures of Bin Laden and hung them from the trees and took target practice with their BB guns. That’s what 10 year old boys did after the attack on the World Trade Center. Okay, maybe most kids didn’t do that. But that’s what Erik and Brad did and they swore they were going to find him and kill him. I knew Bin Laden wasn’t in Pownal, so I never worried about what we would do if Erik and Brad were successful on their hunting expeditions.
The goose breasts were deep red and looked much more like beef than poultry. The package of meat Erik brought us was heavy and dark. I found a recipe online for slow-cooked goose from a man and woman who ran a hunting lodge in Saskatchewan. A couple who runs a hunting lodge seemed like a promising source and coming from a place inhabited by Native Americans until 1774, made it seem even more reliable. Plus, they were Canadian!
When cutting the meat into cubes, I was surprised to find what looked like a silver ball-bearing in the meat. I saved it so I could ask Erik what it was. I later had a lesson about shotguns and the wad of pellets that are dispersed in the air when the shotgun shell leaves the barrel. Erik assured me the pellet was made of steel and that I should not have any concerns about the meat being contaminated by lead. I marinated the cubes of goose meat overnight and started the slow-cooking the next day.
The slow-cooked goose smelled and looked like beef stew. Erik wanted to join us for the meal, but was going away for the weekend. So I froze the cooked meat and we waited until this past Sunday to have the meal with Erik. The couple bites I had before freezing it tasted like tender and juicy beef. When we had our slow-cooked goose dinner last night, I served it with the homemade applesauce that Weston and I made in October and a medley of vegetables. It was very satisfying to sit down to a meal that consisted mostly of food we had picked, hunted and prepared ourselves.
My oldest son, Shawn, is working toward a degree in plant biology. He dreams of having a farm, raising heritage breed livestock and living a primarily self-sufficient life. This lifestyle sounds more and more appealing every day. I’m not much of a gardener and have no interest in hunting. I guess I could help Shawn to care for his livestock. And I suppose I could become more proficient in cooking and canning to contribute something to this venture. I think I just inserted myself into Shawn’s dream. Or is this an offer to cook all of Erik’s game? Deer season begins next weekend. Perhaps I should start looking for venison recipes.