The large, glistening hearts from some of our latest quarry. These powerful organs were once endlessly pumping as the Canada geese migrate countless kilometres throughout their lives.
There’s hardly a more treasured natural delicacy for us than the hearts, livers, and gizzards of wild game. Waterfowl innards are some of my favourites, and luckily they haven’t been in short supply since the season opened. Other than being careful not to rupture the gallbladder which is attached to the liver, there’s not much involved in plucking the organs from the carcass, and unlike some larger, older games’ offal, I’ve never seen the need to soak them in anything prior to consuming them, beside a good rinse in clear water. Sometimes it is necessary to split the very large hearts to remove some of the coagulated blood which remains in the chambers, but even then, blood does taste good, and it is only when the gallbladder has leaked its unruly bitter contents onto the liver that you’ll need to scrap any parts that have tinged green. As far as gizzards go, it is best to split them, remove the gastroliths, and the inner leathery skin that works to grind up their food, as well as the outer tendon-like silver skin.
Goose gizzards are wonderful chopped up with fresh or dried earthy herbs, garlic, and seared in a hot fatty skillet. It is a powerful muscle when from a wild bird – they have a distinct crunchy texture, yet are tender at the same time. We usually fry up a couple livers and hearts with our breakfast after a long morning’s hunt, but when we have an abundance, the majority go towards a batch of pate. Hearts, livers, rich fat (butter, left over bacon grease, rendered bear lard, duck fat, whichever we have in greatest supply) sage, thyme, rosemary, savoury, pepper (I prefer to lean heavily on one of the herbs, and let the rest round out the background), and either some bourbon or brandy, measurements guided by your taste preferences. Packed into jars and stored frozen for the future, later spread haphazardly on croûtes made from homemade sourdough, it is a welcome reminder through the long winters of the golden days of autumn.