If you are looking for a good goose breast recipe, this is it.
There’s something about waterfowl and citrus that just works. Who hasn’t had the classic, duck l’orange? This is a streamlined, quick and relatively easy version of that recipe, with a Greek twist tossed in: ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur. (I also make another version, a classic called duck bigarade.)
Ouzo is easily available at most liquor stores, and you can substitute any similar liquor: Pernod, Pastis, Raki, Tsipouro, Sambuca, Anisette, etc. If you can’t drink alcohol, double the amount of chopped fennel and add some fennel or anise seed and you will get close to the flavor.
I designed this recipe for specklebelly geese, which run around 5 to 7 pounds and are often pretty fatty; they’re like a giant mallard. Canada geese will work here, too, as would a fat snow goose. If you are not a hunter and want to use domestic waterfowl, use a duck instead of a goose, unless you are doubling this recipe: A domestic goose breast is an awful lot of meat for four people.
I prefer to serve this dish with something simple that will sop up the sauce, such as mashed potatoes or celery root, or polenta; I used white polenta (grits) for the photo.
Use wild goose breasts or store-bought duck breasts for this. In a perfect world, you'd use specklebelly geese or Muscovy ducks. If you can't find ouzo, any anise-flavored liqueur works. Or skip it.
- 2 wild goose breast or domestic duck halves or 1 half of a domestic goose breast
- 1 tablespoon duck fat, butter or olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped fennel
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 small hot chile, like a Thai or Tabasco, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 shot glass of ouzo, or other anise-flavored liqueur
- 1 cup goose, duck or chicken broth
- Juice of one orange, about 1/2 cup
- Small bunch of fennel fronds for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper
- If you are using domestic duck or goose breast, or if your wild goose breast is very fatty, score the skin side in a crosshatch pattern with your sharpest knife. You want about five to seven cuts on each angle and be sure to not cut into the meat. Skip this with a skinny goose. Salt the meat well and let them stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- For most wild goose breasts, heat the duck fat in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and when it's hot, place the breasts skin side down. Turn the heat to medium; you want to hear a gentle sizzle, not an inferno. If you are working with very fatty breasts, turn the heat to medium and lay the goose breasts down immediately -- as the heat increases, it allows more fat to render out of the pan. Take your time with this side, which can take up to 10 minutes. When the skin is a lovely brown, flip the breasts, turn the heat up to medium-high and sear the cut side. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the meat is rare to medium. Remove and rest on a cutting board.
- To make the sauce, put the shallot, chile and chopped fennel in the pan and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Do not let the veggies brown. Take the pan off the heat and add the ouzo. It may flame up, so be careful. Scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan and let the ouzo cook down by half. Add the duck stock and orange juice and a little salt and boil this furiously until a spoon passed through the sauce leaves a trail. Turn off the heat and, if you want, strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the solids.
- Slice goose breast on the diagonal. To serve, pour a little sauce on the plate and arrange goose slices skin side up on them. Garnish with some fennel fronds and ground pepper.