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Processing a Goose

 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
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Location: France
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Sadly one of my beloved geese died this morning from being egg bound.  She was fine yesterday and when we put them in for the night last night, and when I let them out this morning she remained on their nest.  I thought she was laying an egg but then noticed some blood bits on the others so I went back to check her and she had died.  I was very upset.  However, we decided that in order to honour her life we would process her body for our table rather than just throwing it away.  So, her carcass is now prepared but I don't know if there's anything useful that I can do with the innards.  There seems to be quite a few chunks of fat - should I 'render' these (whatever that means)?  Plus she obviously wasn't 'hung' for a few days before being eviscerated - was that bad?  Our French neighbour said that they don't normally do that. 

I now feel oddly calm about it.  We didn't take her life nor was there anything that we could have done to help her. Sad though - she was my favourite.
 
                    
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I'm so sorry, hen!  Really glad that you're using her body to nourish your own.  I bet it will somehow make you feel even more "ok" about her sudden death, because her life will continue in you. 

I don't think you hang domesticated birds, generally.  I'm looking in the River Cottage Meat Book (and it's awesome).  The author (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) says he usually tosses the giblets into a pan to brown with some fat, then adds stock or water to make stock and makes a gravy.  The liver is excellent fried by itself and spread on toast. 

I would definitely save the fat and render it.  Rendering is simply cooking it on very low heat until the water has evaporated and all your left with is an oil and usually some crispy stuff in the bottom.  Some people add some water to the pot to prevent it from burning, but if you have low enough heat and a heavy enough pot this isn't necessary.  Strain the hot fat through a cheese cloth or similar into a clean jar. 

If you have enough fat, you can do a confit of the legs!  I've only tried duck confit once, in a fancy restaurant, and it was so gooood.  Mix together two large spoons of course salt with some pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and six cloves of garlic, then rub it all over the legs.  Let it sit for 24 hours in a tray in the fridge, then repeat and let sit another 24 hours.  Then brown the entire surface of the legs in a skillet, and put them in a cassarole dish and cover with pan scrapings and rendered fat.  Roast at 300F for 2 hours, til the meat is almost falling off the bone.  When cooled, put the legs in a jar (maybe one per jar?) or dish that will completely contain them, and pour liquid warm fat over them so there are no air pockets.  This will keep for several months in a cool place, and longer in the fridge.  When you remove the legs, scrape off most of the fat - it can be re-rendered and filtered and used again - and sear them in a very hot oven until the skin is crispy and the meat hot - 5-10 min.  Hugh recommends serving with a salad to cut the fat quantity of the meal. 
 
Irene Kightley
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Sorry about your goose. I'd be a bit wary of eating a bird who had died just in case it had a disease but if you feel it's OK and she was egg bound then why not.

Confit is fantastic - Marina, you description is making my mouth water.

I've a set in flick with photos and a description of how to make confit. We sterilise a lot of goose and ducks for winter. Lovely food.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/sets/72157594161588692/detail/
 
Alison Thomas
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marina - yes The Meat Book, awesome I agree.  I have been reading it for most of the day to see what I'm supposed to do here.  I know this seems daft but I don't know how to identify the heart, liver, lungs, stomach etc.  Anyone know a good website?

Irene - I'm positive that she was in good health.  I'm very close to the geese and I spend a large part of the day with them working beside me.  I notice quickly if they are off their food, sitting down a bit too much, drinking a lot etc.  She was just so absolutely normal yesterday.  That was the shock I guess.

I didn't want to look at the intestines but forced myself and I'm glad that I did.  I am totally in awe of their egg production process - there were another 5 in the processing line.  Beautiful really.

This may seem gross but I couldn't bear to just chuck her head away so I buried it under our bird water bath/drinker.  That way Gertie and I will look after all the little birds that visit our haven.  Boy, did I cry whilst doing it!
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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We are so sorry for the loss of your goose, we have lost a couple of special chickens and know how hard it is.  They were attacked by a dog and killed but not really damaged, so I just skinned them and kept the meat and edible organs.  We (my daughter and I) buried the leftover carcasses up on the hill overlooking our backyard.

Now, after things I've learned here I would keep the bones and feet for stock.

So this is my suggestion - make (dark) stock after you cook and eat whatever you are going to of your special bird. 

Light-stock is made from uncooked bones, etc. and dark-stock is made from bones that have been roasted/cooked.

 
                    
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Irene that photo set is great!  That's a lot of duck!  How many months does a batch that size last you?

Great advice Jami.  Nose to Tail Eating author says he never makes stock without roasting the bones first.  Insists on the superior flavor of roasted bones.  But....he's a chef. 

Hen....um...don't know of any websites.  And I've never seen the insides of a goose specifically.  But from other animal innards I've seen.....Hearts looks like a heart at any size, in my opinion, and feel muscular and firm when squeezed.  Liver has sort of angular edges, almost like a pyramid, and feels softer, and springy.  Beyond that I'm not much verbal help. 
 
Irene Kightley
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That's the supply for the year - when it's finished it's finished ! It's too rich to eat a lot of so it's a really special treat and usually comes out when there are guests which makes life very easy for the cook ! 

The birds are only killed once in the year, around mid winter when their accumulated fat and huge livers are designed to sustain them for a long period of no food. We also make paté and rillettes and the fat is used for cooking all year round.

Re the book: when I saw the thread called "Nose to Tail Eating" I thought it was someone with a weight problem and so I didn't read the thread. 
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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Irene Kightley wrote:
Re the book: when I saw the thread called "Nose to Tail Eating" I thought it was someone with a weight problem and so I didn't read the thread. 


Irene, that's the funniest thing I've heard all day  Thanks for the chuckle
 
                    
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Location: N.W. Arkansas
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I would be cautious of eating the goose.  She could have had the egg issue for days, ran a fever and even got toxic with no signs outwardly, until it was so massive that she just died.
She would make great dog or cat food, and since they are scavengers their bodies are better equipped to deal with eating questionable meats.
I would save the feathers... goose down jacket with real goose down!

I just wouldn't take the chance on eating this goose, unless I were really needy for food.
 
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