If you only know pastrami from its ubiquity in Jewish delis in the United States, man, you’re missing out. Well, you’re not missing out — pastrami on rye from the famed Carnegie Deli in New York City is a thing of beauty — but as we here at The Manual have learned, there is so much more to the classic deli meat than meets the eye.
Pastrami’s origin story stretches back centuries, with the first iterations of what we know today coming from the Anatolian peninsula, where beef was wind-dried and preserved. The Anatolian wind-dried beef is seen as a forbearer to the Turkish bastırma et, or “pressed meat.” While this dish is seen as the original pastrami, the smoked meat we know more than likely comes to us from the Romanian tradition where the Romanian word păstra means “to conserve food.” The Romanians, through a series of cultural hops, skips, and jumps, got their word from the Turkish.
Enough, history, though. Pastrami, as we know it today, is typically made with brisket that is brined, then smoked and boiled. The boiling process breaks down the connective tissues in the brisket, turning it into delicious, meat gelatin.
If we were to stop there and just enjoy traditional pastrami, we’d be happy. But why not be happier? Why not try pastrami that’s made with something other than brisket? With the holidays on our mind, we got to thinking about some of the animals that graced our holiday tables: chicken, ham, and duck. Then, we came across The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler by Steven Rinella and we knew what pastrami we had to try: wild goose pastrami.
We figured that if we could trust anyone to do pastrami made from an animal other than cow, it would be Rinella, as he is the author of multiple books that all focus on various types of meats (and how to hunt, prepare, and eat them), as well as the host of the podcast and Netflix series by the same name.
Below, check out Rinella’s recipe for Wild Goose Pastrami and get ready to blow your holiday guests away.
Wild Goose Pastrami
Ingredients for the cure:
- .25 cup Morton’s Tender Quick
- .25 cup freshly ground black pepper
- .25 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated garlic
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dried thyme
For the rub:
- 3 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- .5 tsp onion powder
- .5 tsp smoked paprika
- .5 tsp dried thyme
Ingredients for the goose:
- 2 goose breasts (about 1 pound each)
- Mustard + pickles, for serving
- For the cure: Mix the Morton’s Tender Quick, pepper, brown sugar, granulated garlic, coriander, onion powder, and thyme in a small bowl.
- For the rub: Mix the pepper, coriander, granulated garlic, onion powder, paprika, and thyme in a small bowl.
- Rub the goose breasts heavily with the cure, making sure to cover the whole piece of meat. Place in a reusable bag and add the remaining cure on top of the meat. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and refrigerate for 3 days. Flip the bag once each day. After 3 days, remove the meat from the bag and rinse it thoroughly. Soak the goose breasts in cold water for 30-45 minutes to remove all the cure. Remove the goose from the water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Rub the goose breasts with the spice rub on all sides. Prepare a smoker with fruitwood to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and place the breasts skin-side down on the smoker racks. Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.5 to 3 hours. Rest for 10 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain. Serve with your favorite mustard and pickles.
- The pastrami will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in vacuum-sealed bags for up to 6 months. To reheat after refrigerating, slice very thinly across the grain and put the meat into very hot sauté pan. Toss a few times to start to release the fat, about 1 minute, and then add .25 cup of water and cover for another 1 minute to 1.5 minutes, tossing a few times. This steam method keeps the meat moist and allows the flavors of the crust to coat the entire slice of meat.
Recipe and image reprinted with permission fromThe MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler by Steven Rinella. Spiegel & Grau, 2018.