Roast Canada Goose

Roast Canada Goose with brussels sprouts
Roast Canada Goose with brussels sprouts

My parents have a work colleague who only eats meat he hunts himself. Apparently the easiest way to answer “what does Canada Goose taste like?” is by gifting a whole Canada Goose.

So when my parents visited recently, our challenge was to roast this newly acquired Canada Goose.

But where do you even start?

There are plenty of recipes and instructions for cooking domestic goose, but a wild Canada Goose is very different. There was no visible fat on this bird. She (or he?) was very lean.

Brining

We figured we’d brine the bird overnight. If it helps with chicken and turkey, it must help here. We soaked the the Canada Goose in a typical brine that uses 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar, as many black peppercorns as I could scrounge up, and enough water to cover the bird.

Then we started doing more research. We came across an article on Field & Stream that clearly outlined the risks we feared: Canada Goose need extra fat to keep them moist, and that “an overcooked goose is only suitable for your dog, and even he’ll grumble about it.” We didn’t plan on sharing this with the dog.

So we used the Field & Stream instructions to guide us.

Preparing a raw Canada Goose for roasting
Preparing a raw Canada Goose for roasting

Searing

After brining overnight, our first step in the cooking process was to sear the Canada Goose on all sides in duck fat. We dried off the bird, seasoned it (the entire surface and the cavity) with kosher salt and black pepper, and trussed the legs (or what remained of them… it appeared to have been shot in the one leg). My roasting pan is stove-top safe, so we melted about 1 1/2 cups of duck fast in the pan and seared the bird for a couple minutes on all sides until the skin was a nice golden colour.

Roasting

After infusing the skin with duck fat during the searing process, the next trick was to keep it moist during the roasting process.

We cleaned out the roasting pan used for the searing (of course we saved the duck fat for other uses). We set the goose on a rack in the roasting pan, and added about 1/2-inch of chicken stock to the pan. This would steam during the roasting process and keep it nice and moist.

We roasted the goose at 325°F in a convection oven (for regular ovens, cook at 350°F).

The Field & Stream instructions indicated it would take a couple hours to cook. They recommend testing with a meat thermometer every 30 minutes for the first 1 1/2 hour and every 10 minutes after that, looking for a temperature of 160°F in the thigh.

We didn’t bother testing at the first 30 minutes (impossible it would cook that quickly), but tested it after 60 minutes. I inserted the meat thermometer into the thigh and it immediately read 160°F. I figured I must have hit a bone (60 minutes seemed way too fast… chicken often takes longer). I tried another spot, and got a second opinion. We were still doubtful, so we got consensus from the entire party. It was done. (Because Canada Goose is so lean, it cooks 30-40% faster than a domestic bird, according to Field & Stream.)

We let the bird rest, and then carved as we would a turkey.

The meat is intensely dark. Gamey but not offensive. If you like duck, you’ll enjoy Canada Goose.

Roast Canada Goose with brussels sprouts

Carved roast Canada Goose with brussels sproutsP.S. I found a piece of bronze shot.

Broiled mushrooms with goat cheese

Source: Fine Cooking #143 (also at FineCooking.com)

Broiled mushrooms with goat cheese
Broiled mushrooms with goat cheese

Sometimes you just get a craving for mushrooms.

This dish makes a perfect side dish for a meat course (think steak or pork chop), or in larger quantities, a nice light dinner.

The recipe calls for mixed mushrooms, but works perfectly well with common button or cremini mushrooms. (I used cremini.)

The sliced mushrooms are sautéed in olive oil for a handful of minutes until they start to brown. Then season with salt and pepper, top with generous slices of goat cheese, chopped thyme, drizzle with olive oil and then broil in the oven until the cheese starts to brown (5-10 minutes).

Sindhi chicken curry

Source: Easy Indian Cooking

Sindhi chicken curry with tomatoes and cilantro, served on white rice
Sindhi chicken curry with tomatoes and cilantro, served on white rice

I hate having great cookbooks sit idle on my shelves. (I’ve definitely discovered photos are key to a popular cookbook… I have books with amazing recipes, but without photos, it’s hard to get inspired and excited about the recipes.)

I was craving some Indian, so I committed to making something from my trusty Easy Indian Cooking book. It features authentic Indian recipes, slightly simplified to use ingredients that can be found in any grocery store.

It’s hard to go wrong with Indian recipes. The layers of spices almost guarantee a home run. This is a bright, light, fresh curry, but packed with flavour.

This recipe is surprisingly simple: you may have all the ingredients on-hand already and there’s not much prep (you can get started on the first steps and prep as you go). The cooking time is less than an hour. Throw a pot of rice on half-way though, and you have a delicious meal that could even be prepared on a weeknight.

Jota: pork, sauerkraut and bean soup

Source: Lidia’s Italy

Jota: pork, bean and sauerkraut soup
Jota: pork, bean and sauerkraut soup

My dad’s side of the family is from the Trieste region of Italy. Because of its location and history, several traditional Triestine dishes have a Slavic influence. (It also has a unique dialect.)

Any good Triestino will have memories of jota, a hearty soup that combines beans, sauerkraut and a few forms of pork. Potato is used to thicken the soup. So we’re not talking about a particularly elegant soup, but on a cold winter day, it’s just what you need.

Lidia Bastianich’s recipe that I’m following flavours the broth with fresh pork butt, smoked pork sausage and fresh pork sausage. She calls for the meats to be removed and served separately, I’m keeping them in to create a satisfying single-bowl meal.

The soup takes about 2.5-3 hours to cook, but it’s a pretty hands-off process.

Goulash Triestino with mashed potatoes

Source: Lidia’s Italy

With life calming down a bit, I’m hitting the kitchen again. I decided to delve into a cookbook that I haven’t yet explored much: Lidia’s Italy, where celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich shares traditional recipes from all regions of Italy.

This first recipe is from Trieste in the far north-east corner of Italy bordering on Slovenia. This area has a long history as part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and many dishes are more inspired by middle-European influences than Italian influences. The example in this dish is the use of paprika, which is rare or unseen in Italian cooking.

This is a lovely rich beef goulash that is quintessential comfort food.

Like any great stew, it does need about 2 hours of cooking time, then a bit more time to sit and meld, but it’s a very simple recipe. Prep doesn’t require anything more than coarsely chopping onions into large wedges, cutting the beef chuck into large 1 1/2-inch chunks and measuring out a few spices. Then things essentially go into a pot to stew. After cooking the onions and beef for an hour, you create a basic sauce by whisking together water, flour and tomato paste, bringing it to a boil, then adding it to the onion and beef, and letting it simmer for another 45 minutes.

Lidia’s recipe suggests serving with mashed potatoes (the Middle European style), polenta or fettuccine (Italian style) or steamed rice. I’m a sucker for mashed potatoes (made with a potato ricer), so that’s what I opted for.

Goulash Triestino with mashed potatoes
Goulash Triestino with mashed potatoes