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I grew up eating offal. It was not a featured guest at our dinner table but as a byproduct of growing up with a family from rural roots, at least a few times a month our family would have either a beef heart, cow tongue, or liver on the dinner menu. I remember being young and at first relishing in the shock value that telling my friends “we ate heart last night” had, but over time I also developed an appreciation for the rich flavour of most of those dishes (although I still cannot quite handle the texture of tongue; to each their own I guess).
One thing I noted to be strange was that this variety did not extend to our wild game adventures, aside from the prized deer heart lunches we would enjoy after a successful November hunt. So, in the spirit of maximizing the harvest, about three years ago I started plucking the hearts out of any Canada geese we shot, and we shoot a lot of geese. Extraction is easy from both butchered geese and plucked birds, and once trimmed and rinsed, I’ve since had these fried, skewered on the grill, chopped fine and added to a stir fry, and most recently, smoked on a pellet grill. They have become one of my favourite post-hunt treats.
If you are equipped properly, this is a simple and straightforward way to pack plenty of smoky flavour into these bite-sized morsels. They are rich and meaty and delicious, so a citrusy dressing of lemon juice, garlic, and honey compliments them nicely. My personal favourite part of this recipe is that smoking tightens the outer surface of the hearts, making them wrinkled and giving them a ‘snap’ not unlike a crisp sausage casing. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, but one could easily eat a dozen of these in a sitting.
12-16 Canada goose hearts, trimmed and rinsed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chipotle pepper powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing:
Juice of two lemons
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Smoked Goose Hearts
Preheat your pellet grill on a high smoke setting to 200 degrees F. I used apple wood pellets the most recent time I prepared this.
In a mixing bowl toss the oil, hearts, and all of the dry ingredients together until coated.
Add the hearts to the pellet grill and let smoke for 2-3hrs, turning them over halfway through.
The hearts will darken and wrinkle, but the texture should be firm and not dried out.
Remove to a bowl and cover with tinfoil; allow the hearts to rest for 15-20 minutes.
Pour lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and honey into a Mason jar.
Seal jar tightly and shake vigorously until smooth. Taste it and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Pour over warm, smoked hearts, and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy.