Good Fun With a Simple Smoker

I idealize cool stuff like smoking my own meat, but the truth is that I owned a red Brinkmann smoker for years before I even understood how the parts fit together.

And then, last fall, after promising to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving, I watched some wonderfully simple and informative youtube posts that taught me how the thing fit together and how to use it. After that bit of online education, a successful gobbler experience, and several subsequent and decent attempts to smoke fish and beef, I began to think of myself as “one of those guys who smokes meat.”

I believe pretty much anything is a good thing that gets me into the backyard for the better part of a day (except for doing actual yard work like raking or mowing or cleaning up all the toys and detritus back there), so I was in a great mood last week when a guy at work made me a present of a Styrofoam cooler imprinted with a simple red, white and blue map of Texas. Within the cooler sat two bags of wild goose breasts, dark red and frozen rock hard.

At home, the goose meat thawed in the refrigerator, then soaked in a brine. (One cup salt, some soy sauce, the juice of an orange, a couple garlic cloves, and a generous dose of Worcestershire sauce and enough water to make it work. )

I’ve learned that birds soaked in brine prefer to sit uncovered in the fridge overnight. It helps them develop a skin, tacky to the touch, that keeps them moist, even after hours in the smoker.

On Sunday morning, I started a charcoal fire in the base of my no-frills smoker. I filled the water pan, and made sure there was plenty of apple chips for the smoke.

These geese didn’t have an ounce of fat, and I worried about them getting over-dry, so I piled them together and draped bacon strips on top.

Goose breasts, brined and baconed and prepped for the smoker.

And… after about five hours during which time the simplistic thermometer on my smoker read “ideal,” the breasts were done, tender and smoky.

It’s the best meat there is. No preservatives. No hormones. No antibiotics. Just wild game, the ultimate free-range organic meat. Absolutely delicious.

Oh, but this story has an addendum. I brought about half the smoked meat to work, chilled and sliced thin. I sent out an email alerting people to the meat, and the email found its way into the hands of a local politics-and-media blogger, who posted an item about it.

Under other circumstances, I might have been irritated with the blogger’s behavior. (He emailed as if he were interested in a bite, without disclosing his intent, and so I told him how to get a few slices.) But his post seemed so harmless. Plus, what are you gonna do?

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