Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
Sometimes the Simplest Methods are the Best
“Can I get you anything?” the guy behind the Fareway meat counter asked. Stopping my cart, I replied, “No thanks,” and then mentioned that we were having fresh snow goose for supper.
“Hmmm; snow goose,” he mused. “Don’t they melt when you put ‘em in the oven?”
“Good one,” I said. “You know you’re in the wrong line of work, don’t you? You should be on stage.” Our exchange ignited a raucous round of guffaws from the rest of the eavesdropping meat crew, and we were soon talking about geese and goose hunting.
During recent decades, the lesser snow goose has become America’s most difficult species of waterfowl to successfully bring to bag. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most challenging to successfully bring to the dinner table.
For me, snow geese rank high on the list of favorite waterfowl entrees. In my view, they are out of this world delicious. I know of several others who share my opinion.
On the flip there are snow goose haters – people who think that snows are downright inedible; possessing a flavor so rank that even a starving ‘possum would turn up its nose. Sadly, these folks may be the majority vote.
So who’s right? Is the snow goose incredibly delicious; or is it completely unfit for human consumption?
In reality, both answers are absolutely correct. Snow geese represent the best — and the worst — that wild game has to offer. Which category they end up in depends solely on the cook. The one and only secret to fantastic snow goose is to NOT OVERCOOK the bird. Since thin skinned snow geese are nearly as challenging to pluck as they are to hunt or cook, most people simply fillet the breasts and legs. Skinless, red meat is easily overcooked, which is exactly what most cooks do. No game is more unforgiving when overcooked than snow geese. Cook them through and you’re correct – snow geese are completely inedible.
Instead of going for cooking disaster; why not try for cooking victory? If you enjoy your beef steak rare; then that’s how you should prepare your goose fillet. If you like medium rare steak; then go with that. If you order your ribeye well done; well, forget it. Your taste buds are shot.
Grilling a goose breast [on an outdoor charcoal grill] to medium rare perfection is a no brainer. Another excellent, though often overlooked, method [attached photo] is to pan fry your snow geese. For best results, place seasoned goose breasts into a cold skillet. I know this goes against the conventional grain but try starting cold anyway. Use just enough butter to keep meat from sticking and then crank the heat as high as the burner will go. Use a press [a heavy stir fry spatula works well] to keep muscle from contracting and, when the skillet starts to get noisy, turn heat back to medium. Give the pieces a couple minutes and then flip. Remove from skillet when fillets have a warm, red center. That’s all there is to becoming a Snow Goose Kitchen Hero. One bite is all it will take to turn even the most hardcore cynic from ‘snow goose hater’ to confirmed ‘snow goose lover’.
Final Thought: Now that I think about it, that guy at the meat counter was right after all. Snow geese do melt. When properly prepared, they melt in your mouth.