Once you go French....

One day, I will write the story of how an Icelandic-Ukrainian prairie boy grew up to become a wine-sipping, snipe hunting, stark raving francophile. In the meantime, let me share just one aspect of the French life I've adopted; my love of French cooking.

Léo's first Canada..it weighed 13lbs!
Here is a recipe that changed my entire outlook on hunting geese. I used to ignore them. Now I can't wait to put some in the game bag. So when you have a good goose shoot, for the love of dog, keep the legs, and gizzards! You can make confit and rillettes from them that will rock your world.

Léo's first Snow goose made awesome confit!
Goose legs
Gizzards (cleaned and halved)
Onions or Shallots
Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary (other spices can also be added. Try cardamon, cinnamon or nutmeg. If you like a bit of a kick, try some cayenne pepper).

Step one: Cure the meat.
Clean legs and gizzards, then wash and pat them dry
Place them in a glass bowl with chopped onions/shallots, garlic, salt and spices. Be generous here, don't skimp. You are basically doing a very short "cure" and will wash most of the salt and spices off the meat before it's cooked.
Put bowl in fridge overnight.

Step Two: Confit the meat.
You can even use woodcock legs!
Turn your oven on to 220 degrees
Rinse the goose legs and gizzards and pat them dry. You want to get most of the salt off of them, but if some of the spices stick, that's ok.
Place the goose legs and gizzards into a dutch oven or oven safe bowl that you can cover with aluminum foil.
Cover all the meat with fat or oil.* Duck fat is the very best in terms of flavour, but is can be hard to find and is always expensive. Olive oil (even a relatively inexpensive brand) is a near perfect substitute. Just make sure to keep the heat under 225 degrees (I used olive oil for the legs in the photo above, it works great).
Put the dutch oven with the legs, gizzards and oil or fat in the oven and then take the dog for a grouse or woodcock hunt.
Depending on the kind of goose (Snow geese cook faster than old Canada honkers) the meat will be done in as little as 4 hours. Generally, the geese we shoot take 6- 8 hours. To check if the meat is done, grab a bone with a pair of tongs. If the meat falls off as you lift it, the meat is done *Confit is to deep fat frying what barbecue is to grilling. Low and slow versus fast and furious. And don't worry, the method doesn't really add any extra fat to the dish. The oil or fat only sticks to the surface of the meat and does not really penetrate it. And since there is no breading to soak it up, a confit leg of goose has far less fat than a deep fried piece of chicken. For more information on the method see the Food Lab's article on confit.

Step three: Enjoy!
Slice the gizzards and serve them on toasted French bread with a bit of garlic aioli. Put the legs under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp/brown the surface and serve on just about anything.


Take the legs and pull all the meat off with a fork. Using tongs or your fingers if it is not too hot, shred the meat like pulled pork into a mixing bowl. Add cut up chunks of gizzards. Stir in some cognac, or brandy, or port wine and add some wild blueberries. Stir it all together and put it in mason jars. You've now made "Rillettes" and they will keep in the fridge for up to a week or so. Serve rillettes at room temperature. Eat is like a nice paté, spread it on bread or crackers and enjoy with a nice Petite Sirah or Pinot Noir.
Rabbit legs are GREAT for confit too!
Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.
— Julia Child

Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals