After a good waterfowl season, my and many other Montana hunters’ freezers brim with one of nature’s most versatile foods: the Canada goose. A goose breast is trophy piece of meat, weighing up to a kilogram, with a rich mahogany color. Breasting a goose is easy enough; an experienced hunter can process a bird in less than a minute. Consequently, most hunters take the breast and leave the rest. But a goose is bursting with uses. While I’m not a fan of putting a dollar value to the animals I hunt, a retail-cost breakdown of potential goose uses illuminates how valuable this otherwise common and unremarkable species is (see sidebar).
Overlooking goose legs and wings is a calamitous error. With a flavor somewhere between beef and pork, and the perfect combination of fat, collagen, and meat, goose legs and wings are a slow-cooker’s dream. When I process geese, I include four legs and four wings, which provides a hearty meal for 3-4 people.
Goose-leg feijoada is a Montana remake of a classic Brazilian dish. It’s little bit salty, a little bit smoky, and entirely amazing. I strive to make this meal completely with wild goose.
1 lb. dry black beans
1 Tbsp. butter
3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 lbs. goose legs and wings
2 large onions, sliced
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. smoked venison sausage, such as linguica or kielbasa
1 smoked ham hock OR brine and cold-smoke the goose legs
3-4 bay leaves
Wild-game broth OR chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 bunch parsley or cilantro
1 bundle green onions
Soak beans in cold water overnight (or soak in warm water for one hour). Heat butter in cast-iron Dutch oven. Brown goose legs and wings and set aside. Add olive oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add minced garlic to Dutch oven and cook for two minutes. Add goose legs, sausage, ham hocks, and bay leaves to Dutch oven. Cover with wild-game broth or chicken stock. Cook on low heat until legs are easy to puncture with fork (6-8 hours). Add soaked beans and crushed tomatoes and cook until meat can be easily pulled from bone (like pulled pork); approximately two hours. Remove bones and dispose. Salt to taste and serve over rice. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro and chopped green onions.
The Use of a Goose
Rendered goose fat (olive-oil substitute) – $5
Organic dog food – $5
Organic bouillon – $3
Organic hearts and livers (pâté) – $1
Goose feet for soup – $2
Artisanal broth – $12
Goose biots for fly tying – $15
Goose capes and shoulders for fly hackle – $12
Goose legs and thighs – $11
Goose wings – $7
Goose breasts for charcuterie (prosciutto, pastrami) – $48
Trachea treats for dog – $2
Goose neck for sausage casing – $2
Total – $126