The team at Heritage Foods USA prides ourselves on providing the best products available while supporting a network of eighty farmers who raise heritage and rare breeds. We are determined to lead the pack with the best tasting items available. To date we remain the largest meat purveyor with the mission of increasing agricultural biodiversity. We are always seeking promising competition to challenge our standard of quality as this would be a sign of a tipping point in the larger food system.
Two reasons heritage breeds are important is their flavor and mouthfeel, traits which traditionally were a main focus of breeders. In contrast, modern genetics are selected for production capacity and leanness. True to the history of the animal, the farmers we work with value and promote flavor and intramuscular fat in their brood. To ensure we really are providing the most delicious products available we have regular taste tests. Each week the team breaks from logistical chores for a special lunch where we sample our products in comparison with one of our leading market competitors’.
This week we sampled Embden goose from two producers. One from the largest goose producer in the U.S. and the other from heritage poultry expert Frank Reese. We have been working with Frank for over a decade as he increased the varieties of poultry raised on Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch. We seared a breast from each in our cast iron pan and were legitimately surprised by both the difference in appearance and taste between the two.
While the goose from our competitor was nicely packaged, when you peeled back the plastic the goose was pure white with fat. The bird itself was plump, and the maroon breast meat had over 2” of depth by the bone.
The first thing we noticed about the Embden goose from Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch was it’s size, which was considerably smaller than the other. The skin was the color of brown butter and clearly visible over the lightly golden fat. The breast was comparatively thinner and the meat was a brilliant shade of red. When sampling this goose a savory balance of minerals coated the palette and a herbaceous, nutty, and buttery aftertaste lingered in your mouth. All of us were tempted to return to the table for more.
The other goose was a one trick pony. The high amount of surface fat had rendered out during cooking. The taste of liver and iron were high and hit the palate with force, but left hardly a trace after the bite. It was not the taste of goose we would hope consumers associate with goose. It would not have the party circling back for seconds in the way Frank’s Embden goose did.