Nicola Chapman tells us about a growing appetite for smoked goose in East Anglia.
Here at Carr Farm in Norfolk’s Waveney Valley we have raised Christmas geese for a few years now and they continue to be popular.
We have a growing customer base who will always prefer the quality of goose flavour over the quantity of the ubiquitous turkey – however roast goose is a seasonal fayre and whilst there are always a few orders at Easter and Michaelmas, demand beyond these special occasions is strictly limited to goose connoisseurs.
In today’s age of 24 hour 365 day a year food availability it’s nice to be involved with a truly seasonal product.
However, every year we have a few Christmas geese who don’t quite make the grade to be the centrepiece on the festive dining table – usually a result of either excessive pin feathers or poorly executed plucking. Initially it was these birds which we were seeking an alternative market for that led us to consider the potential for smoked goose meat.
In 2015, a chance meeting with someone running an artisan smokery got us thinking, goose meat being lean and quite gamey was apparently ideally suited to smoking, furthermore we were told that duck breast was one of the most popular smoked meats available.
This year we experimented with shorter hanging times for a more succulent product.
We took a full chiller to our local Beccles Food & Drink Fayre where we sold out within a couple of hours of opening – customers loved it and it particularly goes well with the current fashion for Tapas style dining.
In September we are off to the annual Aldeburgh Food Festival to tempt the Suffolk foodies with Smoked Goose.
Our local butchers Palfrey & Hall, based on the Kenton Hall Estate in Suffolk, had won Gold Stars at the Great Taste Awards for their smoked meats and being local were our obvious first point of call.
They were keen to experiment with the smoking of goose breasts and in 2016 we did our first trial run.
The meat is first dry cured in salt and sugar for up to seven days then it is cold smoked for four to five hours using beech chips which give a delicate mild smoky flavour with a sweet edge. The meat was then cooked in a sous vide, thinly sliced and packaged ready to eat.
The results were very encouraging; we took samples to our local Norfolk food fair where it received the thumbs up from our customers.