When Helen Webber gets a Canada goose in her sights, it's not for a classic Canadian wildlife photo. In the North, that distinctive black-and-white bird is not only a classic Canadian symbol; it's the other red meat. Goose is often on the menu at Webber's Dymond Lake Lodge in Churchill, MB, the place to bag your limit of birds during the spring or fall hunting season.
Webber has fed many of the visitors who venture north to Churchill, a remote community on the edge of Hudson Bay, where hunting, fishing and polar-bear viewing is the major industry. It's where thousands of geese - honking white snow geese and the eponymous Branta canadensis - like to spend the long Arctic summer days feasting on the tundra before flying south for the winter.
These giants, some weighing in at more than 7.3 kg (16 lbs), live in various temperate zones throughout North America and Europe. But our namesake goose, in the 1700s, took the First Nations' Huron name kanata, a name that might ring a bell. Even then, the big birds liked to hang out near villages (AKA kanata), so it's no wonder they became such popular dinner guests.
Canada goose is a dark game meat, far leaner than domestic goose and reminiscent of beef. Spring birds that have just arrived from the south (fattened on grain in farm fields) are the richest, while fall birds have a slightly gamier flavour, thanks to a steady diet of wild tundra plants. Webber recommends brining the birds in salt and sugar for roasting or grilling the breasts rare. But in her series of books of most-requested lodge recipes, Cranberries & Canada Geese, she casseroles goose with wild rice, stir-fries the fowl with ginger and slow-cooks it with cherries and brandy. Really, goose can stand in for beef in many recipes, the chef says, unless, of course, there's moose in the freezer.
Cinda Chavich is the former food editor and senior feature writer for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun. Specializing in cuisine, cultural history, eco-travel, lifestyle and trends, Chavich contributes to The Globe and Mail, CBC radio, Avenue (Calgary), Chatelaine, Canadian Geographic, Westworld, up!, Wine Access, Food Service & Hospitality and Alberta Parent, as well as American publications Wine Spectator, Cooking Light and Relish. From cod tongues in Newfoundland to truffles in northern Italy, Chavich is keen to explore the unique corners of Canada.
Photo Credit & Article:
courtesy, Canadian Tourism Commission
If you go
Look for goose on the menu at the rustic Lazy Bear Lodge Café, also in Churchill,
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