One of the best days fishing I have had during the last few years (once my Dad couldn’t really go fishing anymore), was a summer day I didn’t actually catch anything. I know it can be said that a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work, but I am not referring to that. Although I did have a couple of bites, it was the conversation I got into with an older gentleman casually walking by that made my day. After the usual pleasantries about the weather and whether or not I had caught any fish, the conversation turned to hunting (a natural segue).
Before long, we were talking about how to cook fish and wild game (for me, another natural segue). Then I heard a single honk, looked up, and saw a pair of Canada Geese cruise by a ways over. It’s funny how in July, I don’t estimate if they are in range. The old timer saw them too and we started talking about goose hunting and then the talk turned to snow goose tornados. (You can see this amazing natural phenomenon here.) Eventually, we got to good ways to cook your goose. “I just corn them anymore,” he stated and the lightbulb in my head beamed brightly.
A friend of mine in Virginia had given me a bag of frozen, fileted snow goose breasts. After a little research and a call or two to my Dad who always loved culling through old cookbooks, I set out to corn them to use at my next GameFeed. I settled on brining, instead of using a dry-rub corning method, and brined them for about 13 hours. I rinsed them well, and then smoked them lightly with applewood from my neighbor’s downed McIntosh apple tree. The corned breasts turned out moist, flavorful, and incredibly succulent, and I was ecstatic with the results.
I used it for several different recipes, from canapés to a casserole, for several different GameFeeds. (You can see the descriptions of the dishes here, here, and here.) I find the meat to be too intense to just eat a chunk of it, so I would recommend slicing it thinly, no matter how you use it. You want to get nice tastes of it, without having a whole mouthful. Between events, I wrapped the unused portions of the corned breasts tightly in plastic wrap and froze them in airtight plastic bags.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, here is the brine I used, and I smoked it indirectly with applewood on a medium-sized Weber grill.
Corned Goose Breast
2 quarts lukewarm water
1/3 cup table salt*
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup black pepper
1 tablespoon juniper berries
3-4 pounds goose breast
Method: Combine the water, salt, sugar, pepper and juniper berries in a pot. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. If needed to fully dissolve, warm a bit. Chill. Add the goose breasts and refrigerate 12-16 hours (in whatever container fits). Rinse and cook as desired.
*You can use other salts, such as canning and picking salts, sea salts, etc. If you use kosher salt, however, the proportions are different, and you would need 1/3 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons of kosher salt.