Winter is here, and fishing has slowed to a crawl. If you are fortunate enough to have a seafaring vessel, tog season is about the most action you’ll find. For many fishermen, this time of year ushers in a foreboding sense of cabin fever in anticipation of a long winter season. If you’re like me, now is the time to put down the fishing pole and pick up the shotgun for some good ol’ waterfowl action. Here on the Delmarva peninsula, straddled by both the Chesapeake and the Delaware Bays, we are in the unique position of having a wide array of both migratory fish and bird species in abundance. We are right smack in the middle of the Atlantic Migratory Flyway, which is why this time of year you can look up in the sky at almost any time and see some wild geese flying overhead. Now if you’ve never had wild goose, you’re really missing out. With rich, earthy tones and succulent texture, goose has a flavor profile that is not at all unlike a lean top round of beef. In fact, my best description of both the flavor and texture of wild goose would be that of a cross between duck and beef. While most of the meat in these birds (particularly the wild ones) lies in the breast muscles, the leg and thigh muscles are usually pretty good as well although much smaller than that found on a farm-raised goose.
Typically, in lieu of roasting the whole bird I just remove the breasts and cook with those.
As I noted before, goose has a flavor profile very similar to that of lean beef. Thus you can treat it just as you would any other lean beef. While the muscle protein itself is quite lean, there is usually a good amount of fat between the skin and protein. Recently, for the Christmas holiday, I was fortunate enough to bring home some geese for my family. In keeping with the treatment of goose as beef, I came up with an easy idea to use the breast meat – a cheese steak. Because it is a very lean protein, goose breast can have an unfortunate tendency to become dry, particularly if you cook it for a long time. In order to prevent this from happening, you can use a little trick known as brining. Brining involves submerging a piece of meat in a saltwater solution for a period of time in order to maximize its juiciness. Without getting too technical, the brine basically allows the meat to hold on to more water after prolonged cooking. It works great with all different proteins, with goose being no exception.
First prepare your brine by whisking together the ingredients and refrigerate it until chilled. Next, prepare the goose breasts, cleaning them up and removing any skin. When the brine has chilled, brine the breasts for 1 to 2 hours. Remove the breasts from the brine and pat them dry. Thinly slice the breast meat and set aside. Prepare some sliced onions, mushrooms, and whatever else you like on your cheesesteak. In a saute pan, cook the onions and mushrooms in butter until well browned. Set aside. Heat some oil in a saute pan until shimmering. Add the sliced goose, season with black pepper, and cook until browned. It should cook fairly quickly. Add the cooked mushrooms and onions to bring it all together. Arrange the ingredients into a long pile in the pan, and top it with two or three slices of American cheese. (Because if you used anything else, it wouldn’t be a proper cheesesteak.) When the cheese has melted, remove the pan from heat. Split a hoagie roll down the side and place it over top of the meat and cheese. Using a long spatula, scoop everything onto your roll. Top the steak with anything else you like to put on a cheesesteak and enjoy!
2 quarts water
1/2 cup salt (I always use kosher salt)
¼ cup sugar
1 goose breast
½ onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 8” hoagie roll
2-3 slices American cheese