After waterfowl seasons close each year, two of my hunting buddies and I get together with our long-suffering wives to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Last year, I brought a brined goose to the annual wild-game dinner. The juicy, flavorful result was such a hit I have decided to share it. Although this calls for a goose, it works equally well for duck, pheasant, turkey, venison roast, pork loin, etc. Adjust brining time for thicker or thinner pieces of meat.
1 large Canada goose
3 bottles inexpensive dry white wine
64 ounces apple or orange juice
2 gallons of water (more or less, according to how much is needed to cover bird completely
1 cup of kosher (not iodized) salt per gallon of water
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 bunch of celery, chopped
2 Tablespoons of peppercorns
2 Tablespoons whole allspice
3 large bay leaves
1 small joint of ginger, sliced wafer thin
Your choice of thyme, basil, marjoram, save, rosemary or other herbs
Heat 2 cups of water for every cup of salt; dissolve salt. Add seasonings and let stand 30 minutes before adding the wine and remaining water. You can use ice cubes for part of the water to help chill the brine. Once the brine is chilled to 40 degrees or below, submerge bird in brine in an earthenware crock or enameled pot. Bird must be completely submerged to prevent bacterial growth. You can use a heavy plate to hold it under. Refrigerate and let stand for not more than two hours per pound of bird.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with water. Pat dry with a clean towel. Place brined bird in a sealed container or wrap with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before cooking. This permits the meat to absorb brine from the skin and allows the skin to brown when cooking.
Bake at 350 degrees or smoke. Do NOT overcook. I removed my goose from the oven when a meat thermometer showed an internal temperature of 170 degrees. This is undercooked, according to standard guidelines. However, internal temperature continues to rise for a few minutes after removal from the oven. You want the breast meat brown just beneath the skin and rare at the bone. The juice from a properly cooked goose is clear, not bloody.
Properly cooked goose has a lot in common with a good steak. Overcooked goose can be dry and tough and have a livery taste.