I've been actively hunting geese since 2001 - the first year any harvest in the Atlantic flyway was allowed since the 1995 closure (a result of the poor management & extreme over-harvest that occured in the early 1990s). That was a short season - 30 days, with a 1-goose bag limit. I remember setting up what seemed like hundreds of goose shells (it was really only about 3 dozen) and thinking, "Wow, this is a lot of work for one goose." Well, fast forward 8 years, and throughout the flyway, we have a 2 (sometimes 3) goose bag limit and around 45 days to hunt them, and hunts now generally require silhouettes or full body decoys numbering at least 5 dozen. Geese no longer respond to goose shells (except by flaring and flying off in the opposite direction). So we've doubled our potential harvest, tripled our workload, and quadrupled the amount of space needed to store the gear. Brilliant!
So over the last 8 years, I've tried a variety of methods to preparing goose. Some have been a smashing success (crockpot barbeque), and others...not so much (breakfast sausage). Also during that period, the internet has exploded with recipes and concoctions to make these sometimes gamey birds more pallatable to hunters and non-hunters alike. Here's what I cobbled together - my most successful goose prep to date - Smoked Goose in Red Wine & Cherries (4 day recipe):
- breasts of 2 geese
- 2 lbs sweet cherries (fresh or thawed - pitless if you intend to eat the cherries)
- Sea salt
- White pepper
- 1 bottle Dry Red Wine (Spanish, Australian, or Argentinian would do)
- Enough apple or cherry wood chips to fuel your smoker for 3-4 hours
- Remove all shot from fresh goose breast. Stack breasts in container and submerge (slightly) with red wine
- Refrigerate immediately and leave for 2 days
- On day 3, add the cherries. Submerge/soak as many in the wine as possible
- On this same day, soak your smoker chips in water, wine, whiskey, or whatever you prefer. It is important that the chips you use are not overpowering - I'm specifically thinking of mesquite and hickory.
- On day 4 (cooking day), gently remove the breasts from the "marinade" and rub them thoroughly with sea salt and white pepper. This is important to round out the sweet taste of the wine and cherries
- Place the breasts on your smoker, or on a grill NOT OVER DIRECT HEAT. I've found that keeping the temperature between 250F and 350F is optimal to getting these suckers smoked in 3-4 hours.
- Heap the cherries on top of the breast filets.
- Periodically drip excess marinade on the cooking breasts until the meat begins to increase in temperature, at which point (for sanitation) you should keep the meat moist with water or some additional wine
- When the meat's internal temperature starts to creep above 140F, use your best judgment as to when to remove. Technically, the lean goose meat should be done at 160F.
- Slice julienne-style and serve immediately - the individual slices will lose their moisture quickly - this is something I'm still working on! The individual slices are quite attractive - bright red on the exterior (wine staining), and dark and lean on the interior.