Wild geese are popular game birds notable for their dark meat and rich flavor. Millions of game birds are farm-raised and sold to restaurants and to the public; however, hunters also bring home wild goose for their own consumption. The meat of young geese less than a year old is tender and juicy, but older birds need special preparation to ensure that they are not dried out and tough. An acidic marinade helps bring out the flavors of wild goose at any age and ensures that the cooking process will not render the meat dry and inedible.
Wild goose is a dark-meat bird without the gamy flavor that typifies other game birds. "Joy of Cooking," a well-known culinary source, notes that goose can taste like roast beef, especially if it is soaked in a marinade. Wild geese raised in captivity have a milder flavor than geese found in the wild but still have a more intense flavor than found in traditional domestic geese. Unlike farm-raised birds, wild geese have little fat on them; unless there is some liquid introduced, they will dry out when roasted or grilled.
Health Advantages of Marinades
A marinade is a healthy way to prepare your wild goose for cooking. An acidic marinade made with wine, vinegar or citrus tenderizes the goose, making the meat moist and juicy as it breaks down the proteins for easier digestion. Although research is inconclusive about how marinades work, they may decrease the amounts of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, that form in meats and poultry when they are grilled or cooked at very high temperatures. The marinade also works as a barrier around the meat to prevent the formation of harmful bacteria.
Marinating Wild Goose
Refrigerate your wild goose while it marinates, as this retards the growth of harmful bacteria. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you should cook the wild goose within two days of marinating to ensure that you are not encouraging bacterial growth that can be dangerous to ingest. Never reuse a marinade that has been in contact with your meat, but create enough to set aside to cook down if you want to make a sauce later.
Basic Marinade for Wild Goose
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides a marinade that ensures a moist and tender wild goose. Simply mix 1 cup each of red wine, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, and add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder. Add rosemary and other spices if you want to increase the flavors. If you are marinating the whole goose, triple this amount. Soak the goose and the marinade in a noncorrosive bowl, such as glass, for at least two hours or overnight, turning frequently. Wrap the goose in foil to cook on a medium-high grill until it is cooked to medium. Be careful not to overcook wild goose, or you will lose all the effectiveness of the marinade and the meat will be dry and tough.