Duck Duck Goose

So every time I go past the soccer field on the 108, I found my eye drawn to the geese which have colonized it so thoroughly that sometimes not a speck of green can be seen. And I think about how tasty I know goose to be, and then I think that it would be a mighty fine thing for me to catch and eat one of those delicious protein delivery systems.

Cap’n Boysenberry thinks that it is probably illegal to hunt them, to which I responded that he is not a proper revolutionary. Someone of true anticapitalist spirit would be out there taking down geese like it ain’t no thang, conquering the flesh for the starving masses. I said this while perched on top of our garbage can waving an Arrogant Bastard, so you know I’m not fooling around when it comes to my fowl.

The thing is, I really like goose. And duck, come to think of it.

And I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what other people are not as into these delicious waterbirds as I am. Is it that chicken has so dulled the palate for fowl that the dark meat of geese and ducks is considered subpar? Is it that ducks are kind of cute, and chickens, while cool, don’t exactly capture the heart? I’m not entirely certain what the origins of this fowl fear are, but I think it’s a terrible thing.

To begin with, no one knows how to cook goose or duck. As a result, the meat turns out flabby and oily, lacking in all life, flavor, and zest. Therefore, cooks point to these failed dishes which do not deserve the name of food as evidence that goose and duck are “just not that good.” Indeed, cooked that way, neither bird would be “that good,” but perhaps if given a chance to flourish, if roasted with love and care, the meat could persuade you with its tender, complex flavor. The delicious notes of wilderness and grain.

The first thing to know about cooking a whole bird is don’t. While it may be tempting, the best goose and duck really should be dismembered for cooking, because different parts of the bird cook at different rates. This is especially true with wild game, which evolved to survive, rather than satisfy your cooking whims. The breast, for example, will quickly cook into a juicy and delicious morsel while the legs are still roasting away.

If you are determined to cook an entire bird, there are ways around it. Start by poking the skin many times with a knife, not so deep as to penetrate flesh but deep enough so that the subcutaneous fat has been reached. This means that as the bird whirls on a spit (because you do mean to spit roast it, don’t you?) the fat will render out, leaving crisp skin and moist, delicious meat without pools of fat to get in the way. Some people have had moderate success with brining and other methods of pre-seasoning as well.

Others cheat, by roasting the bird partially, removing the cooked parts, and then roasting the rest. The bird can be artfully reassembled, brought to the table, and quickly cut before anyone has realized the sordid truth. Orange sauce is crucial.

Turkey is the only other fowl that is every really permitted to play a role in the American diet, which is a great pity because there are a plethora of delicious avians out there waiting for you to sink your teeth into them. Turkey is another bird that is difficult to roast, with various parts of the body finishing and drying out while others are still runny with pink juices and clearly not done. In addition, it is a monstrous bird, which means that you will be eating it for weeks. Why not experiment with duck or goose this Thanksgiving…after all..we are!