Pennsylvania Harvest Kitchen Series: Pulled Goose Barbecue
Like most readers, I’m not a master chef — just a guy who loves to hunt, fish, and eat what he harvests. If success afield and family schedule allows, this series will highlight a new wild game or fish dish each month. I’ll cover all the details from take to table, and everyone will benefit with a collection of easy, everyday meals harvested from nature’s pantry and celebrated in the home kitchen.
The text came through just after 6 p.m. — “T-pain u want to goose hunt with us tomorrow?”
Roughly 12 hours later, seven camo-clad waterfowlers and I hustled to brush in two A-frame hunting blinds with fresh field grass, while our host Mike put the finishing touches on the decoy spread sprawling across a cut cornfield.
With little time to spare before shooting light, we piled in like a can of sardines, headlamps were extinguished, and deer season stories were swapped with a cool drizzle spraying our backsides. Soon daylight came, and then 9:30, and finally the birds flew.
Despite most of the flocks having their GPS coordinates locked on an adjacent property’s large pond just over the hill, our convincing spread and Mike’s talented calling managed to coax enough gullible travelers into shooting range for a handful of skyward volleys.
By 11:30, I was hoofing it across the field to my truck with a large migrator bloodying up the side of my pants leg – another meal secured, compliments of Mother Nature, good friends, and fair shooting.
Waterfowl tends to get a bad rap for being strong flavored, so it’s important to give these birds a little extra TLC. For this goose, I carved out the chunky breasts, and after rinsing away bloodshot and feathers, submerged the meat in a bowl of saltwater. This went into the fridge to help draw out the blood. A fresh change of water on two subsequent days helped finish the job until ready to cook or freeze.
After three days of soaking, I rinsed the breasts and patted them dry with paper towels before shaving away all remaining fat. In a frying pan, a quarter stick of melted butter and minced garlic began to liven up the kitchen. The goose breasts were browned in the simmering goodness for a few minutes on each side, thrown into a crock pot and covered with chicken broth, in which they slow cooked on high for six hours.
When cooked to full tenderness, the meat was shredded, and all juices were discarded. A favorite barbecue sauce and splash of hot sauce were mixed in, and the pulled goose barbecue was served on toasted sourdough rolls with sweet potato fries, butter beans and finished with an ice-cold pilsner.
The table takeaway
I’ve made this dish for years, and though it requires some additional prep, most of the effort is out of sight out of mind as the brine, broth and time go to work on reducing the gaminess of the meat.
This is the first time I coached my wife through the cooking process, instead of doing it all myself, and she was surprised by how easy it was to throw together. She now feels confident she could prepare this meal by herself with duck or goose breasts pulled from the freezer for an easy work-week dinner that pretty much cooks itself throughout the day.
My 6-year-old son, who is a picky eater, gobbled down the sandwich, but our two-year-old daughter wasn’t as impressed with the tang of the chosen sauce. Hey, you win some, you lose some. I won’t complain if there’s leftovers for later this week. Honk if you love goose!