Chesapeake Flyway Goose Hunt 2015
Memories From A Chesapeake Flyway Goose Hunt 2015
It’s our last day in Maryland for a 2015 Chesapeake Flyway Goose Hunt. It’s January 31st; both a bittersweet, and a magical day when the alarm goes off at our Baltimore City row house. We pull on multiple layers of camo in preparation for the single digit predicted temps, scramble like down the winding staircase to street level, grab a thermos full of coffee, picnic, gear, and guns. We load up the truck, and aim it for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Before daybreak we arrive in Massey, where we meet our friends, and our long time hunting guide Richie Lindsay of Grove Point Outfitters. Richie has been our guide for over 20 years. He was barely a grown man when we would travel from our prior home in Vermont to hunt the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he would already possess the skills of a seasoned waterfowl guide, and also a Chesapeake Waterman.
The temps are hovering around 8 degrees, and Richie suggests we settle into our pit blind, as the geese likely will not leave the river till it warms. Still he sporadically calls, flags, and glasses at the slightest distant honk.
Goose blind chatter, banter, challenges, memories, and laughter: It’s one of the best gifts on earth! I’ll never tire of it. Someday, when my body fails to allow me such pleasures, I’ll spend my days recounting every one.
Oddly enough, the first bird to approach our inviting decoy set is a lone snow goose. Richie calls him in nice, and close; as he always does, making me look a far more accomplished shot than I actually am. He tells me to take him out front. I pop up through the grasses that make the roof of our pit blind in the middle of a large harvested corn field. I raise my sweet Arrieta 12 ga. Side by side to my cheek, holding her firm to my shoulder. She is clearly the prettiest thing in the blind that day! I swing and point at landing goose just ahead of me, squeeze the front of the double triggers, and drop him. Richie’s lab “Diver” quickly retrieves him, and drops his large, white feathered body at the edge of the blind.
For a few more hours it’s quiet. Richie has arranged a noon gathering of local guides, and their hunters for a “Last Day Waterfowl BBQ” to be held in the equipment barn on the farm. Among the tractors, combines, and vintage trucks we feast upon smoked duck, BBQ pulled Canada Goose, goose sausage, and homemade sides, and salads. We get the feeling that no one on Earth, at this moment, on this day, could be in more perfect company, enjoying more perfect field to plate cuisine.
As if following Richie’s prediction, the geese start to fly again around 3pm. Back in the pit blind, we are quietly keeping our faces down, and our shotguns ready as Captain Richie calls, and flags. Diver dog silently shudders with excitement save for a few small whimpers of anticipation as the honking draws closer. We are told to get ready. They are approaching from the front with resounding responding honks to Richie’s hailing calls. “Take ‘Em!” When we pop through, the geese are just ahead; locked up, wings bowed, feet dangling to land. We each drop one; 5 geese down, Diver systematically retrieves each one. We all get set again, Richie is calling another flock toward us and it circles above. Richie does a series of come back calls, becoming a little more frantic till the geese circle back heading our way. We are told to make ready. It occurs to me we’ve long forgotten about the cold. “Out Back! Take ‘Em!” parting the grasses with our muzzles we pirouette in a camo clad symmetry facing behind the blind. The geese are nearly close enough to swat out of the sky. Four guns fire. We all smile at each other. The season is done. Our collective limits fulfilled, and only this small band of kindred souls can lay claim to this glorious day!
Carol’s Chesapeake Goose Brine
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add:
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon juniper berries
1 Tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence or Thyme
Boil 3 to 5 minutes or till dissolved
4 cups ice water to cool
4 cups Apple Juice
4 cups beer (any beer from Natty Boh to Micro Brews)
1 apple cut into chunks
1 orange cut into chunks
Brine goose in a non-corrosive container (ceramic, stainless, or plastic) for a minimum of 24 hours in the fridge or on ice.
Rinse in cold water, and pat dry before cooking as desired.
Brined Seared Goose Breast with shallot cream sauce with sherry
Brine a whole Canada Goose according to Carol’s Chesapeake Goose Brine Recipe. With a boning knife, filet each of the breasts from the Goose, skin on. Put the rest of the goose back into the brine, and back into fridge for later use in Goose Stock with Stewed Meat & Goose With Herb Dumplings.
Dice 2 shallots & 1 clove garlic. Set aside.
Heat a cast iron pan till a drop of water immediately evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil & heat to sizzling. Sear the brined goose breasts, skin side down first for 3 minutes or till skin is crisp and brown. Turn and sear other side 3 minutes or until the internal temp. is 125 degrees F for rare or 1 35 degrees for medium rare. Please do not cook any longer than 145 degrees for medium or you will totally loose the flavor , tenderness, and juiciness this dish delivers. Set breasts aside to rest on a plate covered with foil.
Reduce heat on pan to medium. Add 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter and saute the shallots and garlic till softened. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup sherry till liquid reduces by half. Add ¼ cup heavy cream and simmer gently till thickened, whisking in any goose juices that accumulated on the plate.
Slice the goose breasts across the grain into ¼” to ½” slices. Spoon Shallot Cream Sherry Sauce over the slices. Enjoy with Chesapeake Oyster & Crab Dressing, and Cranberry Bourbon Vanilla Sauce.
Cranberry Bourbon Vanilla Sauce
Makes about 2 cups sauce
12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst, and begin to break down, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Chesapeake Oyster Dressing
Chesapeake Oyster Dressing
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
3 strips of bacon till crisp/ diced
Sauté in a half stick of unsalted butter:
1 cup celery diced
½ cup leeks halved and sliced
Set aside to cool and add to bread mixture below.
Mix together in a large bowl:
3 ½ cups artisan bread cubed
1 ¼ cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons each fresh minced sage, parsley, thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whisk together and add to bread:
¼ cup heavy cream
Fold in gently:
1 pint fresh shucked Chesapeake oysters, liquor reserved
Enough oyster liquor to moisten any dry bits
Pour into a well oiled or buttered loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 375 degrees, or until puffed up, and a pic comes out clean.
Canada Goose and Herb Dumplings
Canada Goose and Herb Dumplings
Goose Meat from Legs & Body of a brined goose that has been stewed till meat falls off the bone
2 tablespoons olive oil
One large onion cut into wedges
1 cup peeled carrots cut crosswise into 1” pieces (or baby carrots)
2 large stalks celery cut crosswise into 1” pieces
6 cups Veal Stock
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried Herbes de Provence
¼ cup unsalted butter chilled cut into small pieces
¾ cup milk
Remove skin from stewed goose. Cut goose meat into 1” pieces where possible. Heat oil in a Dutch oven till hot. Add vegetables, and cook till slightly softened. Add stock & goose meat. Simmer until vegetables have softened about 20 minutes.
Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk to make a stiff batter. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto simmering goose mixture. Cover tightly, and cook 20 minutes without opening lid.
Makes 4-6 servings