Tender goose confit, glazed with a tart sauce of reduced wild grape juice or balsamic vinegar is a great variation from typical ways of serving salted goose legs.
This past Summer I really became aware of the presence of geese. You see them so often it’s easy for them to blend in and look like just like any other animal doing their thing. They're a kind of menace though, and have been wreaking havoc on the watercress pond, and just being pests in general.
I've had a number of hunters complain about Canadian geese to me, and how they threaten to outcompete different species of ducks here in the Midwest, but that's another story.
I do like goose legs though, but most hunters throw them away. With the legs here, what I did was cure the legs for confit after plucking-my go to recipe for any wild bird leg. Pluck + salt the legs, then pick a flavor.
Maybe I pack it in a pan with herbs, or go another way with onions and warm spices like allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. Either way from there it’s overnight in the fridge, then poaching slowly in lard, or cooking oil if I'm short on animal fat.
Usually I just sear the skin, warm them up and put them on a plate, but sometimes I’ll switch it up, pick the meat for something, or mock up a quick braise, which is kind of what's going on here.
Glazing by continual, slow, reduction of pan sauces
Glazing, or lacquering, is one of the best techniques I’ve learned in the past few years. You take a braise, and reduce the juices down, down, down, spooning the juices over the meat as they concentrate and the natural sugars thicken to form a layer that shines like a jewel.
Each time you spoon more sauce on at the perfect moment, slowing down and monitoring the heat at the end to get as many spoons of sauce, and layers of collagen rich glaze as you can.
In the end it’s a braised, soft piece of meat, and almost eats like barbecue, but without the overt sweetness of something like brown sugar or molasses in the mix
You could use a lot of things to glaze a piece of meat like this, but something with a little natural sugar or something that thickens a bit on it's own is the easiest. Here I used some of the wild grape juice reduction that I posted about earlier this year, just a spoon or two is enough for a dinner for two-it's powerful, versatile stuff, and with the prolonged cooking that functions as a sort of ultra-pasteurization, it's damn near shelf stable in the fridge.
Goose Confit Glazed with Wild Grape
- 1 10 inch saute pan
- 2 legs of wild goose confit
- 1 tablespoon wild grape reduction or balsamic reduction
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ tablespoon maple syrup optional
- ¼ cup chicken stock vegetable stock, or water
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon rendered goose fat preferably from the carcass or cooking oil
- Preheat the oven to 300. In an 8-10 inch saute pan, heat the lard until lightly smoking. Pat the goose legs dry with a paper towel, the drier they are, the easier they'll be to sear. Put the legs of goose confit in the pan, skin side down, then put the pan in the oven just to heat through, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and put in on the burner on medium heat. Carefully use a spatula to release the legs from the pan without damaging the skin, which should release after a second on the heat, revealing golden brown skin. Pour the oil from the pan and discard. Deglaze the pan with the stock, then add the grape juice reduction.
- Cook on medium heat, spooning the sauce over the goose legs to glaze them. If needed, reduce the heat to low to give you more control. Whisk in the tablespoon of butter to lighten the sauce and tame the sourness. If the sauce is too reduced and threatens to break, add a few tablespoons of cold water, whisk and keep reducing slowly, basting the legs as often as possible.
- At the end, I like to turn the heat off the pan and just keep spooning, spooning, spooning the sauce over the legs to get as much of a coating on them as possible. When legs are glazed and looking like lacquered, purple jewels, serve immediately.
- For the vegetable garnish, things that have a little natural sweetness are going to be the best: squash, roasted onions, roasted root vegetables, etc.