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Canada Goose Leg Barbacoa: Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy takes on a tough subject in “Braising the Wild,” namely handling Canada goose legs.

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Canada Goose Leg Barbacoa in Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy dropped this nugget of truth in wild-game prep this week:

My personal opinion: Proper handling, butchering, and a little originality can turn any wild game or fish into something not only edible, but delicious.

Truth.

That is kind of the central idea behind “Braising the Wild,’’ a vital part of the expanded outdoors coverage in Sports Saturday in the Sun-Times.

And Hennessy drops another truth from Steven Rinella.

Here is the recipe this week:

CANADA GOOSE LEG BARBACOA

As Steven Rinella once put it, “We are living in the age of the Canada goose.” Among North American bird populations, theirs is one of the highest, and only getting higher. You can find them anywhere from city parks to grain fields to backwood marshes. Perhaps you’ve had a few interrupt a round of golf.

Denver even recently started collecting their excess local Canada geese to butcher and cook to feed their homeless population. These birds are good size and offer a lot of meat but so many hunters turn up their noses at this game, citing inedible flavors.

My personal opinion: Proper handling, butchering, and a little originality can turn any wild game or fish into something not only edible, but delicious.

This recipe is incredibly simple but like any wild recipe involving legs, it requires time and patience for the meat to yield and produce flavorful bites.

Ingredients (make four servings):

2 wild Canada goose legs, skinned, lightly salted and peppered

1 orange, peeled and split

2 large cloves freshly minced garlic

2 tablespoons Sambal chili paste

1 cup chicken stock

Eight 6-inch corn tortillas, fried

Freshly minced cilantro

Jalapeño coleslaw:

Half head green cabbage, thinly sliced into inch-length pieces

Half head red cabbage, thinly sliced into inch-length pieces

1 fresh jalapeño, minced (seed if you don’t wish to include spice)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 lime, juiced

1-1/2 tablespoons white sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

To prepare:

Completely thaw legs if frozen. Lightly salt and pepper all sides and sear all sides on a hot grill.

Set a Crock Pot to low and add grilled legs plus freshly minced garlic, orange slices, chili paste and chicken stock.

Cook on low for minimum 8 hours.

If you don’t have a Crock Pot, you can use a Dutch oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, though I’d recommend checking every hour since liquids evaporate easier this way, and the meat may tenderize quicker. Make sure to keep legs covered in chicken stock and orange slices.

As meat starts to tenderize, you can cut from the bone, as it will yield quicker this way.

Meat is done cooking when you can easily pulled apart with two forks to shred.

To assemble coleslaw, cut cabbages in half, remove stem, and thinly slice into 1-inch pieces.

Place pieces in large mixing bowl and add all slaw ingredients. Seed jalapeño beforehand if you don’t want the spice.

To serve, fry corn tortillas then top with shredded Canada goose meat, coleslaw and freshly minced cilantro.