By Scott Leysath
Most of us only think about corned beef around St. Patrick's Day. But corning—or more accurately pickling—can be done with just about any meat. The term "corned" comes from "corn," an Old English word for the large, hard grains of salt used to preserve meat. The cool thing about the process is that corned wild game tastes very much like the corned beef you buy at a delicatessen. Sliced thin and piled high on toasted rye bread with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, corned goose breast makes for a delicious Reuben sandwich.
Corned Goose Breast
There's no shortcut to corning meat. It must be submerged in a solution of water, sugar, salt, and curing salt for as long as it takes the liquid to penetrate the meat all the way through. The curing salt, or pink salt, as it is most commonly known, contains sodium nitrite, which inhibits growth of bacteria and gives the cooked meat its distinctive pinkish-red color. You can corn goose breasts without sodium nitrite, but the resulting gray color can be a bit off-putting to some people. Pink salts can be purchased online or at some butcher shops, and the same brine will work for any waterfowl or antlered game.
Brine ingredients can be adjusted to suit individual tastes, but don't mess with the water–curing salt ratio—it's needed to penetrate and cure the goose meat throughout. To check whether the meat has cured long enough, simply cut a piece in half. If the center looks more red than pink, the meat hasn't been brined long enough. Properly brined meat has a consistent color from the outside to the center. You can make your own pickling spices or buy them premixed at the grocery store.
Once brined, the goose breasts should be simmered for several hours until tender. If the meat is not falling-apart tender, keep cooking—it'll get there eventually.
- 4 to 5 pounds skinless goose breast fillets (about 1 gallon, tightly packed)
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 5 teaspoons pink curing salt (or 7 1/2 teaspoons Morton Tender Quick)
- 1/4 cup pickling spices
[Step 1] Combine all the ingredients except the goose meat in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and refrigerate until cold.
[Step 2] Place the goose breasts in a non-metallic container (glass bowl or resealable plastic bag) and pour brine over to cover.
[Step 3] Refrigerate for 5 to 7 days. Then remove the goose breasts from the brine and rinse under cold water.
[Step 4] Put the rinsed goose breasts in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is very tender.
Goose Reuben Makes: 2 sandwiches
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 4 slices rye bread
- 2 slices Swiss cheese
- 1/3 cup sauerkraut, drained
- 4 ounces sliced corned goose breast
- 1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing
Spread butter across one side of each slice of bread. Place 2 slices, buttered side down, in a large skillet over medium heat. Top each slice of bread with 1 slice of cheese and half of the sauerkraut, sliced goose breast, and dressing. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up. Cook the sandwiches until the bread is lightly toasted on the bottom, then flip them over and brown the other side.