Goose Pastrami

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Slices of the finished goose pastrami recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Goose pastrami is what I do with most of my Canada goose breasts. It is an easy project that makes the most out of these often-tough slabs of meat.

Why geese? Well, Canada and snow geese are very close to grass-fed beef in flavor (they eat the same thing), they have large, easy-to-work-with breasts, and they do have a tendency to be tough, which means that any way you can cook them that lets you slice the breasts thinly is a good thing.

Pastrami, in case you’ve never had it, is a cured meat from Eastern Europe or Turkey — remember the Ottomans ran Eastern Europe for a while — that’s normally beef or mutton. Although here’s an interesting tidbit from Wikipedia: “Among Jewish Romanians, goose breasts were commonly made into pastrami because they were inexpensive.”

So there ya go. This is traditional!

To make pastrami, you dry cure (sometimes brine) the meat for a few days, dry it a bit, coat it in the characteristic black pepper and coriander and then smoke it. Sliced thin on a sandwich, it’s God’s gift. Good pastrami at a Jewish deli is something you must eat at least once before you die.

If you have any goose breasts in your freezer, go for it. A pastrami on rye with good mustard, a slice of cheese and maybe some sauerkraut, and you got yourself some awesome there!

Once you make your pastrami, it will need to be eaten within a week or two, or you’ll need to vacuum seal and freeze it.\

Slices of the finished goose pastrami recipe
4.95 from 55 votes

Goose Pastrami

I specifically call for Canada goose breasts here because they're the only ones I think are large enough to make this with, although domestic goose breasts will also of course work, if you have them lying around. Ditto for swan or sandhill crane breasts. Could you do it with snow goose or speck breasts? Yeah, but they'll be a lot smaller, and I'd only cure them for 24 hours instead of 24 to 36.
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 8 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 skinless Canada goose (or domestic goose breasts
  • Kosher salt see recipe notes
  • 3 grams Instacure No. 1, good for up to 3 pounds of goose
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed juniper optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper plus 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brandy red wine, vinegar or water
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

Instructions 

  • Weigh your goose breasts. For every pound of goose, you'll need 10 grams of kosher salt, which is about a tablespoon. It's OK if you are a little off on this measurement. Mix the salt, curing salt, sugar as well as the thyme, celery seed, caraway, juniper and the teaspoon of black pepper and grind them all together in a spice grinder. Pack the goose breasts with this mixture, massaging it into the meat. Put the goose into a closed container in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours.
  • When you are ready, rinse off the goose and pat it dry. It's fine if you have a little bit of the cure stuck to the meat, but you don't want too much. Put the goose breasts on a rack in the fridge and let them dry uncovered for a day.
  • Dip the goose into the brandy -- or really any other liquid you want -- and then coat thoroughly in the remaining black pepper and ground coriander seed. I like to grind this myself so the texture is a little coarse, a little fine.
  • Smoke the goose breasts until the interior hits 140°F, which takes me about 3 hours.
  • Let the goose pastrami cool and eat as lunch meat, or on crackers or whatever.

Notes

A word on the Instacure. The 3 grams I call for will actually be enough to cure up to about 3 pounds of goose meat. A general rule is about 1 1/4 grams of Instacure per pound. Do not use more than I call for, though. You can buy curing salt No. 1 online
Be careful when you are smoking your goose, as the internal temperature can skyrocket in such small pieces of meat. They'll be ready in 90 minutes in a hot smoker, which to my mind isn't enough time on the smoke. Try to keep your smoker at 200°F or cooler; I like to keep it at 160°F, which lets me smoke the goose for a solid 3 to 4 hours.
What wood? Your choice. I prefer oak, maple or hickory for this, followed by walnut, pecan or cherry.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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130 Comments

  1. Don’t have a smoker so I added a few drops of liquid smoke to the brandy before dipping and cooked these in a 200 degree oven for a few hours and it still turned out amazing. Put on a charcuterie board with a variety of cheddar and homemade mustards and it was a hit. Definitely a favorite for all the goose my husband brings home!

  2. Hey Hank,

    Love this recipe. I’m curious, do you think it could work with goose thighs? I realize curing and cook time will be different and it may not slice up as nice, but I was thinking I could use them as a topping or crumble on something? Or maybe better to try as corned vs pastrami? Any other considerations? Thanks again!

  3. Hey Hank….20 Greater Canada breasts just got split up into jerky, corned, sausage and
    pastrami. All terrific. But a question on the pastrami: it didn’t turn out pastrami-like, just basically smoked breasts, which are still tasty but a little dry and kinda dense. They wound up air-drying for close to 2 days after curing for 2 and duh, I forgot the coating. Smoked for 3 hours. Do you think the drying time was the culprit? Anyway, thanks for all the great stuff.

  4. I’ve made your Venison Pastrami before and am now going to attempt the Goose Pastrami!

    This is probably a dumb question to most, but If I am doing say 6 goose breasts (cure recipe calls for 2 breasts), besides the salt and cure amounts which I know should be based on the total weight, should I be putting in the same amount of the remaining dry cure seasonings for each 2 breasts that I’d be smoking? As in, tripling up on the other dry cure ingredients since I’d be doing 6 breasts?

  5. Thanks for posting this. The internet is good that there is content like this. I have compared your recipe to all the main ones online for Canada Goose Breasts. The two main distinctions I noticed are A. you are online soaking for 1-3 days, while they are brining for 3-4 days. The others do not leave it sit in the fridge for a day after, I like that yours does. I believe this likely causes the meat to firm up before smoking. The other possible difference is you say you just rinse yours, while they specify to leave in fresh water for 30 minutes after cure. Thanks for posting.

  6. Ive used this recipe for so many friends and family members who’ve never eaten wild game before, and it never fails to disappoint! It’s a go to recipe for goose breast in my opinion.