Manitoba waterfowl hunters are in their glory during these gentle September days. The weather is warm, the birds abundant (and a bit naïve, if the truth be known), and there is enough daylight for the "country kids" to rush out to the goose field after school.
On this last note, I was recently hunting with a young lad from Onanole, who must go unnamed, who said that his dad sometimes lets him skip school to go hunting. And while I revere education, I most certainly approve of dads who occasionally let their kids "play hooky" to go hunting. You go, dad!
Early-season geese have little fat and can be a challenge to cook. By far, most of the meat on a big Canada goose is breast meat and many hunters carve out these parts. The result is two steak-size pieces of meat that are great eating but somewhat dry. But cooked right, they are simply delicious.
My brother, Tim, who is a bit of a gourmand in his own right, and his family simply rave over the following recipe:
BBQed stuffed goose breasts and blueberry sauce stuffing:
One large onion, sliced thin and long
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp of rubbed sage
1/2 cup of couscous, wild rice or quinoa, cooked
Goose tenders, if you saved them
Caramelize onions, with olive oil. Add salt at the beginning
When onions are half done, add in mushrooms, garlic and pine nuts. Continue to sauté until the mix is well browned. Add in sage and your favourite cooked grain towards the end.
Sauté the finely chopped goose tenders (which should have been marinating with the meat) and add in last.
This stuffing is now ready for stuffing your marinated goose breast, in which you previously plunge-cut a pocket for the stuffing. BBQ the stuffed breasts at about 400 F to medium-rare, but no more.
Slice in half-inch to three-quarter-inch widths before serving. Top with the blueberry sauce.
1 cup meat stock
1/3 cup of finely diced onion
1 cup frozen blueberries (use fresh if you have)
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp of rubbed, dried sage
Salt, pepper to taste
Add stock, onions and blueberries to a large frying pan and bring to a boil
Add in wine and cook to reduce
When reduced by half, add in butter and maple syrup. Reduce by half again
Add in sage, salt and pepper and simmer for a couple of minutes before serving
Hint: You know you have reduced this enough when the blueberries really stand out in the sauce and the sauce itself is quite thick. When you take the reduction this far, the flavours are intense. It's worth the wait.
After breasting a goose, make sure you take the legs as well. Nothing beats slow-cooked goose legs done in a crock pot. We had some today, in fact. First, dredge the legs in flour seasoned with pepper and garlic salt, then sauté them in canola oil. Then add them to sliced carrots, potatoes and onions in the crock pot. Throw in some dried onion soup mix and a can of golden mushroom soup and 11/2 cups of water and slow cook for six hours. You simply can't beat that!
The second annual provincial hunting day will be held at Oak Hammock Marsh on Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The program includes celebrity guest star Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce. Contact the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (633-5967) for more details.