Goose Breast Sous-Vide with Sauerkraut and Pear

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Geese have become somewhat of a plague in the area were we live. There are so many of them that they ruin the fields and therefore their numbers need to be ‘managed’. As a result, local wild goose is now available. It is similar to duck breast, but it is sold without skin. And since it is wild rather than farmed, its flavor is a bit more ‘gamey’. When cooking red breast meat like this, it is very important not to overcook it. Medium rare it is tender, juicy and delicious. Overcooked it is tough, dry and has an unpleasant taste of iron. And so it can’t be a surprise I opted to cook the goose breast sous-vide, for 2 hours at 56C/133F.
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As is clear from the photo, the meat came out perfect. I served it with a red wine and balsamic pan sauce, sauerkraut, and a pear cooked in red wine. It was a wonderful meal indeed. Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

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For 4 servings

4 goose breast halves, about 800 grams (1.8 lb) total

1 Tbsp minced bay leaves

1 1/2 tsp (11 grams) salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp juniber berries, minced

freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp goose fat (or duck fat)

240 ml (1 cup) red wine

60 ml (1/4 cup) balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp butter

For the sauerkraut

500 grams (1.1 lb) sauerkraut

about 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable stock or chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp juniper berries

2 Tbsp goose fat (or duck fat)

1 small onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

60 grams (2 oz) pancetta or bacon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp flour

For the pears

2 firm pears

120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine

1 stick cinnamon

2 cloves

1 Tbsp sugar

Instructions

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Start by dry curing the goose breast. Mix 1 Tbsp minced bay leaves, 1 1/2 tsp (11 grams) salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, 2 crushed cloves, 1/2 tsp minced juniper berries, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Rub the goose breasts with this mixture on all sides.

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Vacuum seal the goose breasts and allow to cure for 6 to 10 hours in the refrigerator.

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I opted to cook the pears sous-vide as well, because that way you need less wine and they keep their shape better. Because pears are cooked sous-vide at 85C/185F, which is above the boiling point of alcohol, the alcohol in the wine needs to evaporate before vacuum sealing the pears with the wine, as otherwise the alcohol would turn into gas, causing the bag to float. Pour 120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

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Add a tablespoon of sugar, and stir until it has dissolved.

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Add a stick of cinnamon and 2 cloves.

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Peel 2 pears and cut them into halves.

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Vacuum seal the pears with the spiced wine. You can do this with a ziplock bag and the water displacement method, or in a chamber vacuum sealer. For the latter, the wine needs to be cooled off before vacuum sealing as otherwise it will start to boil at the low pressure. Cook the pears sous-vide at 85C/185F for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of pears (cooking pears will require 90 minutes, while 45 is enough for pears you could eat raw as well). If you own only one sous-vide device, you can keep the pears warm or reheat them together with the goose at 56C/133F. DSC00080

For the sauerkraut, start by melting 2 tablespoons of goose fat (or duck fat) in a saucepan.

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Add a small minced onion and cook until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

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Add 60 grams (2 oz) of diced pancetta or bacon (small dice) and 2 minced cloves of garlic.

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Cook briefly until the pancetta starts to color. Do not allow the garlic to brown.

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Add 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir for a minute.

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Add 500 grams (1.1 lb) sauerkraut and enough vegetable or chicken stock to barely cover the sauerkraut.

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Add 2 bay leaves and 1/2 tsp of juniber berries.

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Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring now and then.

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When the sauerkraut is tender, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Take the goose breast out of the refrigerator once it has finished curing.

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Take the meat out of the bag and rinse well with cold running water, rubbing to remove the curing mix.

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Pat dry with paper towels.

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Vacuum seal individually, or at least in a single layer.

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Cook sous-vide for 2 hours at 56C/133F.

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When you are ready to serve, take the goose breasts out of the sous-vide bag and pat dry with paper towels.

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Brown the goose breasts quickly in goose fat (or duck fat) over very high heat. Once they are browned on both sides, wrap them in aluminum foil to keep them warm while you finish the sauce. DSC00235

Deglaze the pan with 240 ml (1 cup) red wine.

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Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) balsamic vinegar.

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Reduce over medium high heat until you have about 120 ml (1/2 cup) left.

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Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of butter, cut into pieces. Whisk to incorporate the butter.

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Take the pears out of the bag. If you like it sweet, you could add the juices from that bag to the sauce (before adding the butter). I didn’t. DSC00247

Slice the goose breast and serve on preheated plates with the sauerkraut, half a pear and the sauce. Remove the bay leaves from the sauerkraut before serving.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed this with a pinot noir from Alto Adige. A full-bodied pinot noir with good acidity from another region would also be a good choice.

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25 thoughts on “Goose Breast Sous-Vide with Sauerkraut and Pear

  1. Have never heard of such good fortune! I guess the Dutch Lowlands suit them!!! Goose is a huge favourite in ‘you-know-where’ but regarded as intolerably fatty oft these days . . .: do like your recipe! More so love the way you prep your sauerkraut, almost a national dish in my country, but you do not begin with 1 part sauerkraut, 1/2 of lard or similar and 1/2 of sugar and then cook it until just to the point it burns! Tastes good actually, but there kind’of is a but 😀 !! [Huh, should you make mention of ‘peasants’, you just might be right!!]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the fatty goose refers to the farmed variety — this one was very lean indeed.
      That traditional sauerkraut recipe is probably from a time when people did manual labor and burned off all that sugar and lard. I bet it would taste great though 🙂

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  2. Man, you outdo yourself every post! You need a column in a newspaper or magazine. Really enjoying the level of difficulty and technique in each of your recipes. The last time I had goose was at the 30th anniversary of an organic grower’s cooperative I worked on in Le Marche, Italy. We had the wings baked and they were amazing. A total 180-degree turn from sous-vide style. Yours looks great too, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is quite likely you’ve already eaten something cooked sous-vide at a restaurant, because they often don’t mention that they do. Especially high-end restaurants (or gourmet chefs at simpler restaurants) use sous-vide.

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  3. We have an overrun of geese here too that don’t migrate. They’ve done everything from poisoning the eggs to hiring out dogs to shoo them off to just flat out killing them. The last kill they did went to the homeless shelter, I doubt they did it sous-vide though. 😦 :Ah well, I am sure yours was delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I very much doubt it, too. The problem with wild geese is that you need a bit of skill to cook them nicely — or sous-vide equipment. And so the prized meat ends up al the shelter and probably wasn’t cooked properly there, but I expect the homeless were happy anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. To be very honest I am not completely sure whether that makes a big difference. I actually want to do some side-by-side experiments to find out.

      I’ve done it to separate the steps of curing and cooking. By rinsing the cure off the meat and repacking, you make sure the goose breast won’t become too salty. However, since I use a moderate amount of salt in the first place, perhaps that is not as big an issue. Some curing recipes use a lot of salt and depend on the timing to control the saltiness of the meat. In those cases, it would definitely make a difference.

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  4. Another beautiful and tantalizing dish, Stefan. You’re right. That goose is cooked perfectly and love that you paired it with sauerkraut. We, too, have a geese problem. Canada geese are protected and their numbers have really grown. They aren’t migrating as far as they once did and some areas are inundated. I think that a limited hunting season may be in the offing in the not too distant future.

    Liked by 1 person

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