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Autumn Harvest

Celebrate the bounty of the season by pairing wild goose with spiced apples
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by Scott Leysath

Nectarines in November? Today, in many large supermarkets, you can find practically any fruit or vegetable all year long. Sweet corn, grapes, berries, and plums are no longer seasonal in our global market. But for the best flavor and nutrition, it is still wise to use locally grown, peak-season produce. Besides, when was the last time you tasted a truly flavorful winter nectarine? It’s a long way from Chile to Chicago.

In North America, waterfowl hunting seasons naturally coincide with the apple harvest. A firm, crisp Granny Smith is not only the ideal duck blind snack but also a perfect addition to a cold-weather goose recipe. The recipe below also features blueberries, and you can use either fresh or packaged frozen berries. In a pinch, try substituting a handful of dried cranberries or raisins.

And remember, of course, that not all geese are created equal. An adult giant Canada goose isn’t as tender or as mildly flavored as a young specklebelly. Small geese don’t require much preparation. Simply check for shot, pick out any feathers, and slap the breast fillets into the pan. Large geese require a bit more preparation in order to better control how they cook. Breast fillets from large Canadas should be butterflied so that the thickness after slicing is roughly equal to that of a mallard breast fillet.  

Goose Breast with Spiced Apples and Blueberries

Total Time: 25 minutes     
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 to 4 skinless goose breast fillets, butterflied (see sidebar)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking Instructions

1. To add more flavor to any goose, brine the meat for a few hours in 1 quart water and 1/4 cup dissolved kosher salt. Then soak the breast fillets in apple juice for 2 to 3 hours before cooking.

2. Place apples in a medium saucepan with 3/4 cup water and the brown sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the apples are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the liquid and stir in cinnamon, coriander, cayenne pepper, and butter. Then stir in the blueberries. Keep the sauce warm, but not hot. If it cools and begins to congeal, heat the sauce over very low heat while stirring until it is just warm again.

3. Season the goose breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and then brown the goose breasts evenly on both sides until medium-rare. Spoon the apple and blueberry sauce onto each plate and top with a goose breast.

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