This recipe sees me just catching the end of the goose season here in Scotland, which runs up to the 20th February (foreshore) in England, Scotland and Wales. But being part of a hunting family means that our freezer will hold plenty of meat to see us through the next few months. Having already had 4 kilos transformed into the most amazing sausages, I wanted to find something a little different to do with our remaining goose breasts, in this case from Greylags.
I’ve recently been inspired by Hank Shaw, who’s website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook is a treasure trove of wonderful ideas on how to utilise game, as well as being packed full of amazing food photography. His numerous books also come highly recommended, and I plan on acquiring a couple of them in the near future. If you hunt or enjoy cooking with game, I urge you to check out his website.
On this occasion I decided to experiment with a few of my freezer stash, my initial aim being to achieve a pastrami-like product. But what I ended up with was so much more than that. This was most likely down to the extremely low fat content of the meat itself, resulting in a deliciously rich and close textured ham. The highly spiced cure mix and rub may, at first glance, seem a little punchy however it only serves to amplify the flavour of the goose, which is in no way lost. The final product can certainly hold it’s own on any charcuterie platter, and has definitely reserved it’s place on ours.
Use very fresh wild goose breasts for this, each weighing at least 250g. I smoked over beech wood, but your favourite mild smoking wood will work well.
4 skinless wild goose breasts, 1kg total weight
For the cure
100g fine sea salt or kosher salt (50g per 500g of meat)
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp onion granules
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp cracked black pepper
Lightly crush the fennel and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar and combine well with the remaining cure ingredients.
For the rub
2 tbsp Madeira wine (set aside)
2 tbsp black pepper corns, roughly crushed
2 tbsp corander seeds, roughly crushed
1 tbsp light brown sugar
a few pinches of paprika
Trim the goose breasts of any silverskin. Coat them well with the cure mix and place in a single layer in a large zip lock bag, adding any remaining cure. Push the air out of the bag and seal. If you have a vac pack machine this would be perfect to use here. Place the bag onto a tray (to catch any leaks) and leave in the fridge for 48 hours, flipping the bag over twice a day.
After 48 hours the meat should be firm to the touch, with a little give, and the bag will contain a quantity of liquid. Rinse the goose breasts thoroughly to remove any remaining cure and place in a large bowl of fresh water to soak for an hour.
Remove from the water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle the goose breast all over with the Madeira to dampen the surface of the meat. This will add another dimension of flavour and help the rub to stick. Coat the meat with the rub, pressing the spice mix in well. Some will fall off during smoking, but don’t worry about this.
Smoke over a mild smoking wood at a very low temperature, as close to 200˚f as possible, until the internal temperature reaches 150˚f. This took around 3 hours. Wrap the goose breasts in cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours before slicing thinly and serving however you fancy. We like to eat it with pickles, mustard and crusty bread.
Keeps for a week in the fridge and any meat you won’t be using immediately will freeze for up to 3 months.