In the mid 90’s I was gone in the Navy for a little over 4 years and didn’t hunt the entire time I was gone. When I came home and started hunting again it was about the same time I really started to get into cooking. The first few cookbooks I bought had a lot of recipes for wild game and as I experimented with some of these new recipes I discovered that just about every recipe can be adapted to use wild game. One of the first cookbooks I purchased was a book by Emeril Lagasse called Louisiana Real and Rustic, in this book there is a whole chapter titled Charcuterie. At the time I had no Idea what Charcuterie was but some of the recipes involved wild game. The first recipe that caught my eye was a recipe for duck pastrami. I had just started duck hunting again and was doing very well so I had plenty of ducks to experiment with. My first batch of duck pastrami was such a big hit that a lot of my friends would save all of their duck breasts for me to make this pastrami. I didn’t know it at the time but charcuterie was going to become a very big part of my wild game cooking repertoire.
Charcuterie is a French term that basically means to preserve meats, primarily pork although when you read about charcuterie, wild game is often mentioned. Charcuterie includes but is not limited to; curing bacon, brining ham’s, making sausages, galantines, terrines, pates and confit. All of these are methods of preserving meat which was very important before refrigeration was invented. One of the benefits of charcuterie other than preservation is that it is also very tasty. It can transform meat that some people would never eat into delicacies that they will rave about. I know quite a few people who openly admitted hating duck and goose but after eating the duck and goose pastrami that I have made, changed their mind.
Charcuterie is a very large subject and I would not be able to adequately describe all aspects in a blog post. So for the is post I will focus on brining and confit, if you are interested in learning all there is to know about charcuterie I would suggest Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s book, Charcuterie, It is an incredible book and does a much better job than I could of teaching, all you need to know about charcuterie.
Goose Pastrami, confit and goose liver pate
Confit is a method of preserving meats by poaching, then storing meat in its own fat. You may have seen or heard of duck confit at some point. A standard confit takes a couple of days to make, for duck or goose the primary cut of meat used is the leg and thigh portion. The first step to confit is to salt your legs and let them sit overnight. A mixture of salt, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and black pepper is rubbed into the legs and then left to sit for up to a day. After they have been salted you rinse all the remaining salt and herbs off the legs and submerge the portions in rendered duck fat. Then you poach at very low temperature for 6-8 hours. The process takes time but I assure you it is well worth it. Traditionally, after the legs have been cooked in the fat they would be packed into containers and covered with the rendered fat. At room temperature the fat becomes solid and seals the meat off from the air. Before refrigeration this was an excellent way to keep meat from going bad. Stored this way in a cool dark area you could keep meat for a month or longer. In the freezer confit will last almost forever. When you are ready to use these portions all you have to do is roast them in your oven for 10 minutes at 425 degrees and you end up with is a succulent, fall of the bone tender duck or goose legs, that really can’t be beat. The confit can then be eaten by itself or added to almost any dish, I like mine with a little lingonberry jelly and some jarlsberg cheese with a nice crusty bread.
Brining is another method of preserving meat that involves soaking meat in a salt solution and then cooking the meat. Ham, corned beef and pastrami are examples of brined meats. By soaking the meats in a salt solution the salt water is absorbed into the meat replacing the water in the cells of the meat and preventing the meat from breaking down or going bad. A special form of salt is used when brining meat, sodium nitrite is a curing salt that further prevents spoilage of meat. It is also the reason brined meats have their characteristic pink color; sodium nitrite reacts with the meat and produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide prevents iron breakdown in the fat of the meat and prevents it from going bad. My duck pastrami is a form of a brined meat, I also brine antelope roasts to make corned antelope and in my opinion it is better than any corned beef I have ever eaten.
When I started thinking about this post and what I was going to do for it I wanted to make something that would show off some of the different techniques all in one meal, I wasn’t sure how to do that until I ate at Café Maude in Minneapolis. They serve a duck Bahn Mi and it was fantastic, it has duck confit and duck pastrami on it as well as a duck liver pate, so I thought what better way to show case several techniques than to make a similar sandwich. I didn’t have a duck in the freezer but I did have a couple of geese. Here is my version of Café Maude’s duck Bahn Mi, it may seem like a lot of work but in my opinion good food is never too much work.
Goose Bahn Mi
Goose Pastrami (adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real and Rustic)
2 goose breasts about 1 pound apiece with the skin on
1 tablespoon black peppercorns plus 2 tsp ground black pepper to roll the brined breasts in
2 tsp dry thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tsp whole cloves
3 cloves of garlic (smashed)
2 tsp whole juniper berries plus 1 tablespoon ground juniper berries to mix with ground black pepper
4 cups water
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup kosher salt
1/10 ounce of insta cure # 1 (pink curing salt)
1. Bring the water, brown sugar, and both salts to a boil and dissolves completely, then add the rest of the ingredients to the brine and let stand until room temperature.
2. Place the goose breasts in the brine and refrigerate for 48-72 hours turning the breast over in the brine everyday
3. After the breast have been brined dry them off and cover the skin side of the breast with the black pepper and juniper mix
4. Place in a smoker and smoke at 180 degrees for 5-6 hours or until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees
Five Spice Goose Confit
4 goose leg and thigh portions
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
Enough duck fat to cover the legs
1. Mix together the salt and spices and rub the goose legs with this mixture
2. Refrigerate for 24 hours
3. Rinse all the salt mixture off the legs and dry completely
4. Place the legs in a heavy oven proof pot and cover with duck or goose fat
5. Place in the oven at 200 degrees for 5-6 hours, you will know when the legs are done when the meat and skin have pulled away from the knuckle on the leg bone.
6. If you are going to store your confit you can place then in a Ziploc freezer bag with some of the rendered fat and put in the freezer. Or you can pack them into a container and cover with remaining rendered fat.
7. When You are ready to use the legs preheat the oven to 425 and then roast the legs for 10 to 15 minutes until the skin get crispy
12 ounces goose livers
1/10 ounce insta cure #1
2 cups port or fruity wine, I used an apple and black current wine
3 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
Mix the wine, salt and spices together and marinade the livers for 24 hours then remove the livers from the marinade and dry comletely
Pan fry the livers in two tablespoons bacon fat for a couple of minutes on each side
Add the livers and bacon fat to a food processor then add
½ of a small white onion
8 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons brandy
¼ tsp dry thyme
¼ tsp white pepper
A dash of nutmeg
Then blend until smooth and creamy, taste it and add salt if necessary it should be a little salty because as it cools the salt will mellow
Transfer the mixture to a fine mess sieve and press through the mesh to get a very smooth and creamy pate. Chill before serving.
To assemble the sandwich you will need a baguette, some cilantro some julienned carrots and julienned daikon radish and some rice wine vinegarSoak the daikon and the carrots in the rice wine vinegar for 30 minutes before serving, cut and 8 inch piece of baguette cut in half and spread about 2 tablespoons of pate on the bottom piece, top with a ¼ cup of goose confit then the slices of goose pastrami, add some of the diakon and carrots and finish with some cilantro leaves. This recipe will make about 6 sandwiches