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John Hoffman, DU


I once attended a wild game feed where everyone was invited to bring their favorite dishes. There was the predictable assortment of poppers, chili, and meatballs, but when someone walked in with a beautiful roasted whole Canada goose on a colorfully garnished platter, it elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from the assembled guests.

A whole roasted wild goose might look pretty on a platter, but it really doesn’t make much culinary sense. If you look through a mainstream cookbook and see a glistening holiday goose, you can be pretty sure that a hunter did not harvest that bird. Instead, it was likely raised in captivity and fed regularly, and it never migrated thousands of miles or had to escape from predators. The fat content of a domestic goose is roughly six times that of a wild goose. Fat equals flavor and forgiveness. An overcooked domestic goose, while not as juicy as a properly cooked bird, is decent table fare, but if you overcook a wild goose, the results will be much less than desirable.

Before roasting a whole duck or wild goose, it’s best to remove the leg and thigh sections and give them at least a two-hour head start. Medium-rare breast fillets are delicious, but legs cooked the same way are barely edible, and much of the meat is wasted since it is still firmly attached to the bone. Cooking the legs and thighs for a longer period of time will result in fall-off-the-bone meat.

Dutch Oven Goose
Yields: 4 servings

Some geese are better roasting candidates than others. I will roast a younger Canada goose, but not an old one. Fortunately, I hunt in an area with plentiful white-fronted (specklebelly) geese, which are excellent when prepared using this method. Try the same recipe with a plump mallard or pintail.


The Brine

  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup each coarse salt and brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon each garlic powder, whole coriander, and dried thyme

The Bird

  • 1 white-fronted or young Canada goose, skin intact
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Flour
  • 1 whole onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 6 to 8 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 cups dry white wine (or substitute chicken broth)
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 to 6 strips bacon

John Hoffman, DU.jpg

John Hoffman, DU

Add wine or broth to the pot and simmer with vegetables for a tender and tasty bird.


  1. Combine brine ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until salt is dissolved. Cool completely. Transfer to a large bowl. Remove the goose’s leg and thigh sections at the body. Submerge all the goose parts in the brine and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours. Remove from brine, rinse with cold water, and pat dry. Then season all the parts liberally with salt and pepper and dust with flour.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees or prepare white-hot coals. On the stovetop, heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy, oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add goose parts, brown evenly, and remove. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the Dutch oven or pot and cook for 5 minutes. Place browned legs and thighs on top of the vegetables. Add wine or broth, bring to a boil, and cover. Place Dutch oven or pot in the preheated oven or on the hot coals. Check occasionally to make sure that there is always at least an inch of liquid in the pot. If necessary, add additional wine or broth.
  1. After two hours, remove the Dutch oven or pot and place rosemary on the cooked legs. Place the body, breast side up, on top of the legs and lay strips of bacon over the breasts. Cover and return to the oven or coals until the internal temperature of the breast meat is 120 degrees, about 1 hour. Remove lid and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, until the internal temperature of the breast meat is 135 degrees. Remove from oven or hot coals.
  1. Arrange legs on a platter. Remove breast fillets from the body, slice, arrange on a platter, and serve.