Goose Breast with Rosemary Fig Sauce

Sorry we haven't posted in awhile. Been working on our book and all (HOORAY!) For those who didn't catch our announcement on the Food for Hunters' Facebook page, Rick and I are in the process of writing a book with F+W Media, Inc. They're the fine folks who publish the magazines that we all know and love, like Deer and Deer Hunting and Gun Digest! The book will cover many animals and offer tips and tricks on how to field dress, process and cook wild game. We are aiming to finish our manuscript by October 2014, so hopefully the book will hit shelves in the summer of 2015. This will be our first book and we are both very excited to share it with you! We'll keep you updated as we move forward.

As for this recipe, pan seared duck or goose breast is simple, quick and classic, and hunters who are used to throwing away the skin from their waterfowl should think about quitting this bad habit. A goose or duck's skin is the best part of the animal. Its sweet, aromatic fat is what sets it apart from other wild game. To me, rendered duck or goose fat is gold, and you've never had a proper wild duck breast until you've tasted one seared in its own fat and its skin cooked to a crispy perfection. With ducks, simply pan searing works perfectly. But goose, we've found, is more easily cooked by pan searing and then finishing in the oven. Canada goose breasts tend to be very thick, so pan searing alone has often been a challenge. For a really great guide on how to pan sear duck or goose breasts, check out our friend Hank Shaw's post on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

This rosemary fig sauce is textbook Food for Hunters. We like to pair red wild game meats with sweet-tasting sauces best, so hence this one. It is also made with goose drippings, red wine, balsamic vinegar and butter. Give this a try. It won't disappoint.

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
- 2 Canada goose breasts, with skin
- kosher salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup of dry red wine
- 1 sprig or rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of fig spread (we use Dalmatia brand)
- 1 tablespoons of cold salted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
After cleaning and rinsing breasts, pat dry with paper towels. Score goose skin, but do not cut into the meat. Sprinkle salt to taste on both sides. When grilling or pan searing any red meat, remember to take it out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking to allow meat to come to room temperature for more even cooking.
2. Before cooking, pat the skin dry again to remove as much moisture as you can. This will allow skin to crisp. Then lay both breasts skin-side down in an ovenproof skillet, like a cast iron skillet. Turn on the stove to medium-low heat. This will allow fat to slowly render.
3. Sear the skin side for 5 minutes, or until it has rendered and is golden and crisp, but do not burn. Halfway through searing, tip skillet to spoon out most of the rendered fat and save it in a small bowl. Leave enough to sear other sides. If you have any wounds or bloodshot on the breasts, those parts may turn up darker on the skin. Then turn the breasts to the opposite side and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Next, turn breasts on their thickest sides and cook for 1-2 minutes to get some color. If necessary, use tongs to hold breasts upright. For the purpose of this post, we only cooked 1 breast. If you had two breasts, you can lean the bottoms together with the skin sides facing outwards. They should stand on their own without the help of tongs.  

4. Then lay breasts skin side up in the skillet and gently blot off any excess fat. Roast in a 350 degree F oven for 7-10 minutes in the same ovenproof skillet, or until they reach desired doneness. We like to eat our waterfowl from medium-rare to medium. It may also take a little practice to recognize what exactly rare, medium-rare, medium, etc., looks like in waterfowl. We have found that wild waterfowl tends to keep its red/pink color better than beef. Even at medium, it will still look quite pink and rare, even though its texture is medium. The best way to tell is by looking at the meat's texture. Learn to recognize what raw goose/duck meat looks like and how its appearance and taste changes as it cooks. This will help prevent you from overcooking your ducks and geese in the future. In the photo above, the goose looks quite rare, but in fact it tasted closer to medium. As most duck and goose hunters know, you absolutely do not want to cook waterfowl past medium, or until its gray or brown in color. It will taste like poorly cooked liver.

5. Once breasts are cooked, remove them from the oven and onto a plate. Let them rest for 5-7 minutes, loosely tented with foil. Meanwhile, return the skillet to the stove and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1 teaspoon of the reserved goose fat and 3/4 cup of red wine. Scrape the bottom of pan and add the rosemary sprig. Allow mixture to simmer until liquids are reduced by half. 
Next, discard rosemary and whisk in 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and 3 tablespoons of fig spread. Allow mixture to simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold butter. You want to simmer the sauce until  just before it reaches desired thickness. It will thicken up further with the added butter and as it cools because of the pectin in the fig spread. I've often made the mistake of simmering my sauces too long and having it turn back into jelly! Before serving, make sure to taste the sauce. Tastes will vary. If it's still too tart, add more fig spread. If it's too sweet, add more balsamic vinegar. If desired, adding a little salt would also be delicious.

6. Serve goose breasts whole or sliced, skin-side up with the sauce served underneath. You don't want to ruin your crispy skin by making it wet. Bon appetit!