Archive for the ‘Waterfowl’ Category

You should thank Gordon Ramsay

I hunted, killed, butchered, cleaned, cured, and confit’d 11 wild ducks. Not 1. Eleven. I pitted and dried a bunch of evans cherries that a friend picked for me. I roasted a sweet potato, days ahead. I ground pork fat and the above mixture. I moistened the mixture with some white wine I made. I stuffed it in hog casing. I made many pounds of sausage from the above ingredients. And I hated it.
It was good in theory. The duck confit and sweet potato is a successful combo, but somewhere along the line, this made the nastiest textured and not so nice flavoured sausage. So I threw it out. I quoted world-famous scottish born chef Gordon Ramsay as I walked to the dumpster. One of his philosophies, if you can call it that, is “don’t let your mistakes leave the kitchen”. Now if I was starving, I’d eat it. But I wouldn’t proudly serve it to guests. And I certainly am not interested in eating many pounds of the brutal stuff on my own. So hopefully I’ll sleep well tonight having thrown away all that work. Amongst the lessons learned: until I have more experience, follow a damn recipe from my charcuterie bible before venturing out boldly on my own. And any of you who eat from my kitchen can thank Gordon Ramsay for not having to partake in my mistakes.

Culinary Accomplishment


My brother in law and I just wrapped up a goose sausage making session. We made roughly 20lbs, about 5 lbs of each of the following:

Garlic Sausage with Sage
Lots of garlic, and dried sage from my garden, with my red wine.

Dried tomatoes from my garden, herbes de provence I brought back from Ile de La Sorgue in Provence, and some pepperoncini I bought in Lucignano d’Asso in Tuscany.

Apple Beer
Apple sauce my mom, David, Pam, and I made from apples Pam and I picked at my dad’s place, Ephémère Apple Beer by Unibroue from Chambly, Quebec.

Foie et Cèpes
Goose liver, goose heart, and dried porcini mushroom.

Fun project. The sounds and vocabulary associated with sausage-making makes for lots of laughs and an all around good time. Will be doing this again, and refining our favorite recipes.

Blind Tasting, and BAD butchering


I just had dinner guests do a blind tasting of two different species of geese to tell me which they preferred. Both were rotisseried, basted in garlic butter with fine rosemary, thyme, sage, and parsley. The final concensus: both were extremely close in flavour and nearly impossible to distinguish one for the other. And both tasted so much like roast beef, that it was agreed either could be passed off for roast beef.

And all agreed that the rather expensive bottle of 2003 Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Pinot Noir was really damn good.

The main course was a sauté of wild boar with a Madeira jus and lardons of bacon I made, served with roasted garden potato, carrot, and rutabata, and sautéed chard greens with nutmeg and lemon.
Which leads me to a rare event. I was mad today. Doesn’t happen often. I had a 5 lb bone-in leg of wild boar that a friend gave me, butchered by a local butcher. I had been anticipating enjoying it for weeks. I opened the package, it looked poorly trimmed, so I cut into the roast.

This is the absolute worst piece of butchered meat I’ve ever seen in my life. That is blod clot, running the entire length of the inside of the roast. It was disgusting. After trimming, I was only left with just under 2 lbs of edible meat. That’s just wrong. Whoever let this leave their shop, should be ashamed.

Wild Geese


I gave up hunting altogether for quite a few years. Lots of reasons why, and beyond the scope of today’s blog. I gave it another shot in the last couple years, and have been really enjoying it. It’s fun to be outdoors with the guys, and culinarily it’s a tremendous opportunity for me.

I just got back from goose hunting down in southern Alberta where my family on my dad’s side has been doing it for over 30 years. Every year, this time of year. I’m appreciating the tradition in it as I get older. There were thousands of geese close to the house down there, and we did well.

A few firsts. I shot my first snow geese. They’re beautiful birds, far smaller than Canada geese, and the flesh is far whiter, and likely more delicate in flavour and texture. I’m eager to try different things with them in the kitchen. Oddly, they’re overpopulated and destroying their habitat in the arctic. And no, that’s not a hunter justifying killing things. The limit on them is ridiculously high – our possession limit as hunting party of this species alone was 200. We only took a half-dozen.

Another first was shooting once, and seeing two white-fronted geese [speckle-bellied] fall. That doesn’t happen often. Happened to me yesterday. This was the most abundant species of goose down there – usually is. They are also smaller than a Canada goose by a fair margin, and have a bizarre squealing sound rather than a honk. Many argue these are the best tasting goose. I look forward to being the judge of that. We ended up with 30+ of these.

We also got a few Canada geese. The big ones we were shooting around Edmonton last year were 14 lbs, but down south they’re a fair bit smaller.

I have a Snow, a White-Fronted, and a Canada skinned whole, trussed with some of my home-cured and smoked bacon, and ready for a side by side rotisserie or roast comparison. And I’m eager to make sausage from each of the species. For those that haven’t tried, goose has a definite poultry flavour, but because they’re migrating – as opposed to being in a feed lot – their meat is a lot tougher than domestic poultry. These geese were feeding in a wheat field for a couple weeks – which is awesome. Animals that are grain fed before slaughter taste better – domestic or wild. So this year’s brain wave is using most of the meat in sausage as it will have a nice poultry flavour, and the grinder will take care of the toughness issue.

I am sore. Pushing round bales is hard [for cover]. So is squatting for hours [hiding in cover]. And I’m tired – up at 4:45am for the past couple days. Looking forward to going again next year.