I always laugh when somebody asks me this one, and I am still amazed by the number of them that are actually fellow waterfowlers. I hear it all the time, about how Canadas don't make good table fare, and I have no doubt this, more often than not, has been the result of a "bad experience" with a knife and fork. I just smile and say, "Yes, I manage to choke them down", all the while seeing if they will offer to give me their geese as well...
My hunting pals and I are fortunate enough to shoot quite a few geese each season, and the Brown Dog loves to carry these 747s around. We have also been fortunate enough to stumble across some very good recipes that make these big birds more than "just edible". One of my very favorites is this recipe for making pastrami from goose breasts, and it never ceases to please! I have converted many of the "geese taste nasty" crowd with this one (including quite a few at the OWA Waterfowlers Bootcamp this weekend), and it is SOOOO easy, you just gotta have some time and a smoker...
First, you need geese! To make this effort worthwhile, I usually will do 6-8 breast filets at a time, and I have done as many as a dozen. Start by removing all the "silver skin", muscle fascia, blood vessels, etc that you can with a sharp filet knife. Remove any shot pellets you can find as well as any feathers that may be in the meat. This really seems to get rid of a lot of the "gamey" flavor many complain about with geese.
|Removing fascia and silver skin|
Make a brine for the breasts to soak in. My brine recipe of choice is:
1 pint water
3 tablespoons of Morton Tender Quick
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
(This is generally enough for 4-6 breasts, can easily be doubled if more volume is needed)
*Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and Tender Quick
Place the brine and the breasts in a sealable container. If you need to, add additional water to make sure all meat is covered. Seal container and place in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Shake the container daily or every other day to mix the contents. (For really large batches, especially when it is really cold out, I have used 5 gallon buckets and put them in the garage!)
|Into the brine!|
|Ready for the Fridge!|
Time to Cook!
Drain the brine from the container. Often the fat that is still with the meat will get somewhat "snotty" after a long sit in the fridge, but it rinses off. Rinse the meat and allow to sit in cold fresh water for 1-2 hours. Dry the breasts off and apply your favorite meat rub to both sides, liberally coating the surface and grinding it into the meat. I like BBQ rubs, like Rendezvous Dry Rub, but ground peppercorns, Cajun seasonings, even coarse ground black pepper all work...just depends on your tastes.
|Rub(s) added, ready for the smoker!|
Get your smoker up to 220-225 F, and smoke the meat until the internal temperature is 150-160F (a remote meat thermometer is a wonderful thing). I like to use apple cider in the water pan, but experiment to see what you like the best. Smoking time is generally 4-6 hours.
|See you in about 4 hours!|
When the meat reaches temperature, remove from the smoker, and allow to cool. Slice the meat thin with a meat slicer or filet knife and enjoy! Large batches can be easily divided up and vacuum sealed, for freezing and serving later. I usually throw a small bag in with my hunting gear to share with friends (and Roux) in the blind. It's good stuff! Enjoy!!
|Just out of the smoker!|
|Sliced and ready to pack|
|Ready for the Blind Bag!|
Until next time, remember...
Brown is Beautiful!