The Best Goose Meatballs Ever
These grilled meatballs, slathered in a flavor-bomb sauce, are a delicious use of those skinless goose and duck breasts still sitting in your freezer
PLUCKING A LIMIT of a Canada or snow geese is—let’s face it—an onerous chore. And the meat from some old geese is just never going to be tender, no matter which culinary spells you cast. That’s when your grinder saves the day. Ground goose makes for a dense, flavor-packed meatball, patty, or sausage stuffing. Just be sure to add at least 10 percent fat to the mixture—pork fatback works beautifully—but ideally closer to 20. (Another option is a 60/40 split of goose meat and pork shoulder.) And grind it twice: once through the coarse plate and again through the fine plate yields the optimal texture.
In Japan, ground chicken is the base for an ethereal meatball dish called tsukune. We sub in ground goose here for a darker, punchier flavor but glaze it with the same classic sweet-and-savory tare sauce that makes those meatball skewers so addictive. You can cook these over the grill or in a sauté pan. Either way, serve with some steamed rice on the side and the leftover sauce for dipping.
½ cup mirin
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sake
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, smashed, plus 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, sliced, plus 2 Tbsp. chopped ginger
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1½ pounds ground goose meat
4 scallions, roughly chopped, green and white parts separated
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bamboo or wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
1. Make the sauce: Combine the first eight ingredients in a medium saucepan with a quarter cup of water, then add the white parts of the scallions. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes, or until the sauce is almost syrupy. Strain into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids, and set aside for later. (Refrigerate if not using it within an hour or so.)
2. While the sauce is simmering, combine the ground meat, green parts of the scallions, egg, sesame oil, cornstarch, and the two tablespoons each of garlic and ginger in a large mixing bowl. Salt and pepper generously. Knead the mixture until thoroughly combined, then, with wet hands, form into meatballs about the size of Ping-Pong balls.
3. Thread the meatballs onto the skewers, three or four per skewer, and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large wide sauté pan over medium-high heat. (If grilling, oil the grates with vegetable oil, then prep the grill or coals for medium-high heat.) Sear a few skewers at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, and flip when the underside is golden, after about 3 to 4 minutes. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, then turn the skewers frequently for about another 3 minutes, or until seared on all sides and cooked through. (Use a knife to nick and peek to make sure they’re done.)
5. Brush with the sauce and continue to cook, rolling the skewers around, for about 30 seconds. Place onto a serving dish and brush them again with the sauce. Repeat with the remaining skewers, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.
6. Sprinkle the skewers with the sesame seeds, if using, and enjoy.