Sugar on Snows: A Sweet, Sassy Skillet Dish Featuring Your Favorite Geese or Ducks
Updated: May 18
Snow geese are regular visitors to the Delmarva area (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia - especially the Eastern Shore), arriving in flocks numbering in the thousands. Hunting them can be a challenge, not to mention a lot of work, given that it takes many hundreds of decoys just to begin to get their attention.
Compared to cousins such as Canada geese and white-fronted (specklebelly) geese, snow geese often get
a bad rap in the culinary world. One common, disrespectful nickname is “sky carp.” Waterfowl diet is the critical driver in how those birds will taste. A fish-eating diving duck just doesn’t taste as good as a mallard that has been dining in flooded cropland. Snow geese that have fed in corn stubble fields and other leftover croplands can be made plenty palate pleasing.
We collected a few mid-February snow geese one year and pulled together this sweet and simple skillet dish. Canada goose, specklebelly or duck breasts could be used in place of snow goose. Warning: it is sweet. If you find it too sweet, add a little squeeze of lime.
Brine (salt/water mixture)
2 snow goose breasts, skinned
¼ stick unsalted butter, divided
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices (we like a more tart apple for this - such as Granny Smith)
1/3 cup dried fruits (we used a mixture of prunes, craisins and cherries)
¼ cup dark brown sugar
Fresh ground pepper – to taste
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dry white wine
Lime juice (optional)
Trim all visible silver skin from breasts and place in a glass or plastic bowl. Cover with water and stir in tablespoon of salt. Brine in refrigerator for 8 hours. Drain well and pat dry. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. It is hard to beat a seasoned cast iron skillet for this type of dish. Add goose, a dash of fresh ground black pepper and brown on both sides, reducing heat if necessary to keep butter from burning. Remove goose breasts while rare and slice ¼ inch thick across the grain of the meat.
Add remaining butter and apples to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add other dried fruits and cook another minute. The apples should be soft, but not mushy. Add brown sugar and wine, stirring to ensure sugar completely dissolves.
Put the meat back into pan and cook until it is heated through. Medium rare is best in terms of preserving flavor and tenderness. Definitely, do not cook the breast meat past medium. The sauce should be slightly reduced at this point.
Serve immediately over rice. Serves 2 or 3.
To help balance it, serve a side dish such as green beans sautéed with tomatoes and garlic, or pecans and almonds. A French onion soup makes a good starter course. Celebrate the end of waterfowl seasons by pairing this dish with a Riesling or Sauterne wine.