Dry Rub Goose Poppers

Dry Rub Goose Poppers

Got a goose lurking in your freezer?  Or three? Try these dry rub goose poppers?

I know they’re not our favorite to eat.  But they are fun to hunt. Fun to watch them circle a field, the oldest old goose craning her neck like an upside down periscope to check out the safety of the dinner table, setting their wings and committing to the grain field you’ve so carefully planted with decoys. Trying to outwit them: coffin blinds, mechanized decoys, electronic calls.  I once heard of a guy who ‘borrowed’ (for a nice donation) several pups from the local animal shelter, then let them loose among his decoys.  Tails wagged, golden crosses romped, geese fell for it.  They’d never seen anything so crazy.

But eating them…. Oh my.  So, let’s try a marinade, then a bit of grilling, and a finishing sauce that makes our favorite problem a welcome treat.

FYI, this is a fast-grilling recipe, taking only 7-10 minutes total, turning them once.  So don’t wander off and keep a meat thermometer handy, because nothing ruins game meat—and a great recipe—faster than overcooking it.  165-170°F tops before taking it off the grill.

PS: This recipe is from Tenderize the Wild: 100 dry rubs, marinades and brines for all your wild game meat.


Dry Rub Goose Poppers Recipe

Serves 4

This is one of John’s favorite dishes.  He’s a lot more into unami, that 5th flavor, than I am.  For the record, the five flavors are sweet, sour, salty, bitter and that last-to-be-named, unami.  The first four are pretty self-explanatory. Unami is Japanese for ‘savory,’ originally described as the taste of beef broth with seaweed.  For us Americans it’s red meat, mature cheese, mushrooms and the like.  All are John’s favorite flavors.  For me, the Dijon/honey/balsamic vinegar spooned on at the end provides the sweet-sour-salty tanginess I crave.

The Dry Rub Ingredients

24-48 hours ahead

  • Boned breast of one goose (A greater Canada would be about 1 pound)
  • 4 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 4 teaspoons Spanish paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder


Slice the goose breast into 1 to 1½ inch chunks.  Mix the dry rub together and rub it all over the meat.  Place the chunks in a re-sealable plastic bag and place in the refrigerator 24-48 hours.   Don’t rinse off the rub.

The Rest of the Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion
  • 6 ounces white mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

*If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes before assembling the kabobs to keep them from burning up on the grill.


  1. Preheat a propane grill to medium-hot, 350 to 400°F.   Alternately, start your coals. When they are covered with white ash–the vast majority of them, not just a few–spread them out for cooking.  When the cooking surface is hot, give it a good scraping with your grill brush, then wipe it with oil.  (Tongs and a folded up square of paper towel, with 2 tablespoons of oil will do the job safely, and if you do it every time, you’ll season your grill, just like you’d season cast iron, making it pretty much non-stick.)
  2. While the grill heats up, cut the onion into chunks and the mushrooms in half.  Arrange the meat, mushrooms and onion alternately on the skewers, placing the skewers where the stem of the mushroom meets the cap, so it doesn’t fall apart.
  3. Stir the Dijon mustard, honey and balsamic vinegar in a small glass jar until most of the lumps are pretty small, then seal tightly and give it a good shake.  The mustard acts as an emulsifier and will blend the three ingredients into a smooth sauce very quickly.
  4. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover it, and cook about 7 to 10 minutes total, turning once.  (Cooking time depends on how big—or small–those chunks are and how efficient your grill.  So keep the meat thermometer handy.)
  5. When you turn the kabobs the first time, spoon some of the honey/mustard sauce on the cooked side, then again just before you take the kabobs off the grill, spoon it on the second cooked side.  (Like barbecue sauce, the sugar will burn if you put it on the side of the meat that’s facing the fire.  You only put it on the side that’s already cooked.)
  6. They’re done when the thermometer registers 165-170°F. (Unlike red meat, birds are less dense, so the cook doesn’t have to allow for counter rise with birds. Cook them to the desired temperature, no extra math.) Serve hot with more sauce, if you’d like.  (To serve more sauce at the table, divide it in half before grilling, or make two recipes and keep them separate.)
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