Combine goose breast bacon and duck-fat hollandaise for a memorable brunch.
Goose breast bacon is a favorite amongst my goose recipes. Making fresh goose-breast bacon is one way to increase the variety of game-based ingredients in your pantry and elevate the value proposition of harvested geese.
Value is a theme that I work hard to honor in my game processing. Transforming fresh snow goose breasts into brunch bacon is almost a culinary miracle. (And who doesn’t love bacon?)
What follows are directions to make wet-cured, hot-smoked bacon. If you like the results here, it’s worth exploring the dry-cured process to make goose-breast bacon. And if you want to push the envelope a bit, you can make skin-on (dry), salt-cured goose ham. Once air-dried, it has a texture and flavor reminiscent of prosciutto.
(First thing’s first – if you need to learn how to harvest geese then check out “Goose Hunting for Beginners”)
The wet-curing process is a good place to start. Eggs Benedict is just one iteration for using goose bacon; add it in as you would for any other back bacon. Serve it on its own or use it as an ingredient in any recipe that calls for lean bacon or ham as an ingredient.
Snow geese in Alberta are abundant enough to support both a spring and fall season and limits are generous. Last spring, a hunter could bag 50 snow geese each day of the season with no possession limit. A competent shotgunner could fill a truck box on a three-day hunt—and then turn around and hunt again next week with the same results. What to do with all that meat? Add making bacon to the list.
These snow goose breasts spent 48 hours in a simple wet cure of sugar and salt. They were then dried in the fridge overnight and hot smoked at 225˚F until the breasts passed 150˚F. Then the smoked breasts were chilled, sliced, and reheated to use in eggs benedict.
The hollandaise made from duck fat is a ridiculous luxury afforded my family by buying duck fat from a local vendor. It adds a lovely flavor to the sauce that suits the smoked bacon, but you can certainly use butter if you prefer.
There is a bit of a trick to making hollandaise. This sauce has a reputation for difficulty that even intimidates professionals. I find that that the difficulty is exaggerated. My recommendation is to face the fear and proceed with confidence. Occasionally the hollandaise “breaks.” If this happens, crack a fresh egg, take that yolk, and start the process again with the “broken” sauce. I have yet to fail on the second try. And if the hollandaise is too much to tackle, then purchase an instant hollandaise packet from your grocery store, follow the directions to make the sauce, and hold your head high when it comes time for service.
I suspect that you and your guests will be gob-smacked by the taste of smoked goose bacon. My brunch guests and I were. Goose-breast bacon is now part of our rotation in our annual game processing and goose recipes.
The Brine and Smoke
- Gram scale (I have two: one that maxes out at 5 kilograms and measures in grams or ounces, and another that is an electronic pocket scale that measures to the 100th of a gram.)
- Non-reactive container (I prefer food-grade clear plastic containers with lids.)
- Wooden spoon
- Saucepan to boil water
- Instant-read thermometer
- 4 liters of water
- 350 grams of pickling salt (8.75% of the amount of water used in grams.)
- 40 grams Instacure/Pink salt (1% of the amount of water used in grams.)
- 200 grams of sugar (5% of the amount of water used in grams.)
- 50 grams of molasses (1.25 % of the amount of water used in grams.)
- 8 goose breasts
- Add sugar, molasses and both salts to a 2-gallon, 8-litre food-safe container.
- Boil the water.
- Add the boiled water and stir well to completely dissolve.
- Cool the liquid, then chill in the refrigerator.
- Add goose breasts once the liquid is chilled.
- Cover and refrigerate for 48-72 hours.
- Drain the goose breasts and rinse them well in cold water.
- Arrange the breasts on a stainless-steel rack over a baking sheet and let them air dry overnight in the fridge.
- Let the breasts come up to room temperature while you preheat the smoker to 225˚F. (Alternatively use an oven set at 275˚F if there is no smoker.)
- Place the breasts on the smoker so that the smoke can circulate easily between the breasts.
- Smoke to an internal temperature of 165˚F (U.S.D.A. standard safe cooking temperature for poultry.)
- Remove to use as desired or chill and store in the fridge for up to three days. Or, vacuum pack and freeze for future use.
The Duck Fat Hollandaise
- Large saucepan or a double boiler
- Stainless steel bowl that fits over the saucepan (Alternatively, use a double boiler, but I prefer the bowl because it makes it easier to whisk the ingredients.)
- Fine wire whisk
- Instant thermometer (This is a good place to use the laser version thermometer.)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of water, plus a bit more on hand if required to rescue the sauce
- Pinch of saffron
- A cup of melted duck fat
- A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Add an inch or two of water to the bottom of the saucepan or double boiler and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Add lemon juice, water, and saffron to the stainless bowl (or double boiler insert) and place over the simmering water.
- Separate the egg yolks and add them to the liquid.
- Whisk vigorously while checking the temperature every few seconds.
- When the liquid increases in volume, becomes foamy and hits 150˚F, remove it from the heat immediately.
- Add the warmed liquid duck fat in a thin stream while whisking vigorously.
- The resulting sauce should have a nice sheen to the surface and be as thick as a pourable salad dressing.
- Celebrate a successful hollandaise and proceed with the rest of the brunch preparations.
Note: A French kitchen chef would normally reduce peppercorns, tarragon vinegar and lemon juice. Cook that, reduce it, strain it. But we are making a simpler version of the classic sauce.
Eggs Benedict with Snow Goose Bacon for Four
- Toaster for English muffins
- Butter knife
- Skillet to poach eggs
- Small stainless bowl to slip eggs into the simmering water
- Slotted spoon
- 4 English muffins, each cut in two
- Goose bacon (recipe above)
- Duck fat hollandaise (recipe above)
- Butter for toasted English muffins
- 8 eggs (assuming two per person)
- Salt for poaching water
- Parsley for garnish
- 4 servings of cooked potatoes (or add the side of your choice)
- 2 oranges, cut in 6 wedges each (three per person)
- Heat/cook your side (potatoes) and hold warm while you proceed through these steps.
- Set up the plates and garnish them with orange wedges. Prepare the parsley for garnish.
- Set up the toaster and saucepan of salted water to poach eggs in advance of making hollandaise. Heat the water in a saucepan to a boil, cover and let it simmer while you make the hollandaise.
- Once the hollandaise is made, bring the poaching water back up to a gentle boil, and carefully crack eight eggs into the poaching water.
- Put the English muffins in the toaster.
- Butter the muffins and place them on the plates.
- When the eggs are done, lift them with a slotted spoon and place them on the English muffins.
- Drizzle with hollandaise, garnish with parsley and a sprinkle of cayenne if you like.
- Serve and celebrate glorious goose bacon!
Goose bacon appeals to me. The process to make bacon is surprisingly simple and straightforward. And goose bacon is delicious. I know that making this duck fat hollandaise for the Eggs Benedict is a luxury. I do it because I can, and it is so much fun. You can too, just for the flat-out fun of it.
More Goose Recipes! Confit: A Luxurious Treat With Duck or Goose