Serving a Christmas goose? How about a wild one?

Wild goose can substitute for turkey, ham and other traditional holiday meat.

Does your holiday feast include a goose? How about a wild goose? Did the hunter in the family bring home a wild goose for the table?

In Michigan the regular hunting season for geese includes the following times:

  • Sept. 20-22
  • Oct. 11-Dec. 7
  • Dec. 27-28

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides the details on the hunting season for geese.

Now that the hunter of the house has brought home a goose, what needs to be done?

Wild game birds need to be handled just as carefully as poultry. Wash your hands, utensils and food preparation area before working with the bird. Do not cross-contaminate. Keep the raw meat separate from the ready-to-eat foods. Do not allow raw meat juices to drip on to the ready to eat foods in the refrigerator.

Keep wild game birds out of the temperature danger zone of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent foodborne illness pathogens from growing.

Store raw wild game birds in a refrigerator that is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Two days is the limit for storing the raw bird in the refrigerator. For longer storage use a freezer that is set at zero degree or lower. For the best quality, only store the wild game birds for up to six months in the freezer.

Consider freezing the wild game bird in meal-size pieces and packages. Put a double layer freezer paper between individual pieces. Squeeze out all of the air from the packaging before freezing to ensure good quality.

When it comes to thawing frozen bird, use the safe technique of thawing the bird in the refrigerator on plate on the lowest shelf to prevent cross-contamination from any dripping juice.

Since goose is considered a “white” meat and has the taste and texture of pheasant, duck, chicken or turkey, it can be substituted in any recipe that calls for fowl or poultry.

Since game meat tends to be more muscular and have less fat, it will tend to be on the dry side when cooked. Some techniques to help overcome the dry texture are using a baking bag for the oven, using as the meat in a soup or stew, marinating the meat before cooking, as a fillet or using it in a stir-fry.

Another tip for using goose is to use tongs instead of a meat fork to keep as many of the juices inside the meat as possible. Resting time on a plate for five minutes is key to keeping the meat tender.

Try this marinade to tenderize the skinless wild poultry.

Combine in a bowl:

  • 2 cups of buttermilk or yogurt
  • Minced garlic or onion
  • Freshly chopped herbs of your choice
  • Ground white peppercorns

Marinate in the refrigerator for two to six hours. For a zesty kick try using ranch salad dressing.

A final tip for using a wild game bird is to refrigerate the cooked leftovers within two hours and use the meat within three days.

When the hunter of the family brings home a wild goose for the Christmas dinner, why not roast it like you would a turkey?! Be sure to prepare it just as careful.

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