Christmas is coming; the goose is getting fat...
Well, many geese are getting fat, on grass and grain in the Northeast Kingdom. A goose farm — the state’s second — has opened in Cabot, and the 55 birds included in its first slaughter have been popping up on menus from Hardwick to Burlington.
“We have this really dark, silky soil, and it’s fantastic at holding water, but it can also get muddy,” says Wesley Bascom. He’s explaining how he came to found Gozzard City with his partner, David Huck. They considered sheep, goats and other creatures but found that geese were ideal for their moist pasture. “I seem to have an affinity for them,” Bascom adds.
Bascom and Huck purchased goslings last spring, slaughtered their first birds on October 4 and sold them mostly to Vermont restaurants — including Claire’s Restaurant & Bar in Hardwick. At Pistou in Burlington, chef Max Mackinnon made goose meatballs in a duck ramen broth for a recent event with Hank Shaw, the author of the new book Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, Both Wild and Domesticated.
“The meat is a lot more flavorful than duck, and they have a lot of beautiful fat,” says Suzanne Podhaizer, who owns Salt Café in Montpelier. She helps out at Gozzard City and has been using geese in dishes such as goose confit on a waffle with plum mustard and braised goose with cabbage, prunes and Riesling.
One unforeseen hiccup of raising geese: They’re a pain in the ass to pluck. “They take about 30 to 40 minutes each,” Podhaizer says.
With the holidays approaching, the farmers plan to slaughter more birds this month, which they’ll sell for $9.50 per pound. Home cooks can buy birds directly from the farm.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Getting Goosed"