Hunter recipe: Smoked maple syrup goose

Geese make for a delicious dinner reports Idaho Fish&Game. Here father and son are shown with geese they recently hunted.

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As a child, my dad used to roast our waterfowl in the oven, lightly seasoned and overly well-done.

This is not the way to prepare a good goose, and I can appreciate why some hunters refer to ducks and geese as “river liver.” As any chef knows even a prime steak can be ruined by poor preparation, and the same is true for ducks and geese.

While I typically jump shoot ducks a couple times a year, when a friend invited me to hunt geese with his son, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to have a goose for one of my favorite wild game recipes.

This recipe was prepared by a friend of mine — when I was still in the camp of only making jerky from my waterfowl — and is now a family go-to. We use the leftovers for goose pho, which my daughters request for “special meals.” I now have a number of great waterfowl recipes, and am happy to share this one with you.

Smoked & Brined Maple Syrup Goose


1 goose, plucked

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup kosher salt

Maple syrup

1 ½ gallons water


Submerge the plucked goose in a container with water, kosher salt and brown sugar.

Brine goose for 24-48 hours.

Remove from the brine, and drain any liquid from the body cavity. Pat skin dry with a paper towel to remove all moisture. Place back in the fridge for 4-24 hours. The more you can let the skin dry out, the better.

Brush goose with maple syrup and place on smoker at low heat (I set my smoker to 160 F.)

Brush on additional syrup every 30-45 minutes.

Cook for 3- 4 hours until breast meat reaches medium-rare (135-145 F), or desired temperature. In my experience, cooking waterfowl past medium-rare may give the meat more of an irony (livery) taste.

Carve bird and serve!

Chef’s Note:

The wings, legs and thighs will usually cook faster than the breasts. I typically cut the thighs off with the leg when they reach medium-rare and allow the breast to continue cooking. In my opinion, the thighs are the best meat on the goose and should never be left behind! Also, save the carcass after carving! We use the goose bones and uneaten meat to make goose pho, but it makes a great stock for any of your favorite soups.