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Sharing the Bounty

I like to share some of the treasured wild game I harvest with others for consumption.

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Why? Some of you may be asking. I know, I know, I should keep it all for myself, right? After all, it is so healthy and delicious!

Well, I like to breakdown stereotypes in the lifestyle of hunting with others, especially when it comes to dining on wild game meat.

What I continually find is that some folks are fearful of preparing, cooking and, more so, eating wild game.

I hear folks say they don’t care for the “wild taste” of the game meat, or that they just don’t know how to cook it.

Comments such as: “It’s gamey tasting” or “It’s too rich” or “It’s dry and tough” are all too common.

Still others don’t like the idea of eating a species for which they have a particular fondness. Maybe they believe industrial meats are safer or healthier than meat processed in a hunter’s kitchen.

For some, these comments and attitudes are enough to push aside any wild game dish beyond their beloved beef, pork, chicken, turkey or Tofu.  However, as more and more people join what I call “the local food movement” and learn about sustainable practices such as acquiring and sourcing free-ranging meat, wild game is becoming more popular than ever.

Now, you can comprehend why I like to share my bounty with others.

A while back I gave Katie Stacey, who works with me in our Game and Parks Omaha Office, a few Canada geese that I had harvested with our official game & fish custody tags attached.

Katie doesn’t hunt much, if at all, but thoroughly enjoys wild game meat. So, she decided to prepare small portions of the geese several different ways for members of her family, six in fact, who don’t hunt either.

Her sister, who is a professional restaurant chef, claimed one of the goose breasts to prepare her own way. The breast was salted and refrigerated the night before to draw out any moisture, thus allowing the lean goose meat to absorb added fat when cooked. She butterflied the meat, stuffed it with fresh thyme; and then literally drowned it in butter and heavy cream. She cooked it in a low oven temperature, 325 degrees for two hours. The end result was served with a cream sauce and some risotto. It was absolutely fabulous, according to Katie! “It was so tender you could pull it apart with a fork before serving it,” she told me.

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The next recipe for Canada goose also utilized a full breast. Like the first it was salted overnight. This one, Katie peppered then roasted with bacon atop. She says it is a simple recipe, but one that’s super tasty and hard to beat when you are crunched for time. And, everyone loves bacon, right? The bacon adds a nice smoky flavor and the fat from it keeps the roasting goose breast from drying out. She cut it into strips after roasting to make it easier to share among five family members.

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The other three of the variations of goose Katie made employed the use of marinades/brines. She wanted to try more flavor combinations. She trimmed the goose into strips, and marinated each portion differently. They were all broiled together until medium rare. All were served (optionally) with naan, goat cheese, and fresh spinach.

Picture in the photo below on the meat tray to the far left, Katie used a brine mixture of apple juice, balsamic vinegar, and dried apricots for this Canada goose course. Katie said the end result had a powerful flavor of the brine but was yummy!

Shown in the photo below in the middle of the meat tray was the goose meat strips marinated with garlic and rosemary. This one was the favorite of she and her family; the rosemary complemented the goose’s natural flavors very well.

The other batch of goose strips she prepared, displayed in the photo below on the far right, was marinated with one of her favorite spice combinations, lemon and pepper.  It was her favorite of the marinades, but she readily admits: “I’m a lemon fiend.”

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Last, and her overall favorite Canada goose recipe, was goose ravioli soup. Sounds exquisite, doesn’t it?

She ground the meat that wasn’t large enough to turn into neat, tidy strips (leg, some thigh, and wing meat) and browned it with garlic and Italian seasonings, then added some Parmesan cheese. She made pasta dough, and rolled it flat. The raviolis were filled. She says they turned out looking a bit more like dumplings in the end. Once cooked these were added to the soup base she made using chicken stock, zucchini, yellow squash, portobello mushrooms, spinach, and a dab of butter.

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Katie and her family agree with me that Canada geese offer lean, scrumptious meat. They discovered similarities to a good cut of beef.

Think about it. Whenever you, as a hunter, can donate wild game to friends or family to make for a meal, along with the proper documentation, some helpful cooking hints and a tried-and-true recipe or two, you will get lots of surprised comments about how flavorful and delicious the meat is, not at all gamey as they expected.

I’ll bet those folks will have a different outlook about wild game and possibly the value of the hunting lifestyle.

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About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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