Oca - Montana goose "prosciutto"

Oca is my name for salted, cured, and dried goose breasts. Other folks would call this "goose prosciutto." Prosciutto means ham. While the name is widely recognized, I think this salted, dried goose breast is better served with its own name. Oca means goose in Italian, so Oca is the choice for this melt-in-your-mouth salumi.

I've experienced a few different versions of this dried meat. The Oca described here aims to give an exact recipe that is easily repeatable and that you can adjust according to your preferences - while still keeping the repeatable process.

Curing salt is unnecessary for whole cuts of meat, such as goose breasts. Flavor-wise, I think the Oca benefits from the cure. The cure to use is Prague Powder 2 or, for short, Insta cure #2. You can always experiment with removing it. Maybe if you do a few Ocas, try some with and some without cure #2 and make up your own opinion.

To me, making salumi is an ongoing journey of discovery. While most of my dried meats follow our favorite selections, I typically use 20% of the meat to try out new flavors or slightly improve on an already great recipe. I think that cold-smoking Oca, similar to
torkat kött, would be a good flavor experiment that I am looking forward to.


Goose breast needs to be in excellent condition for a great result. Anything bloodshot should be trimmed away. All weird cuts, wrinkles, nooks, and crannies should be evened out with a knife until you have a smooth surface. An embedded shotgun pellet will be a source of contamination. With the pellet comes pieces of skin, feathers, and other contaminants. Make sure you remove all pellets and pellet shot areas as you trim the meat. Any bruised, bloodshot meat needs to be examined - your knife is the tool to verify that the breast is correctly prepared for drying. It's better to cut a breast into two halves than to discard the whole breast due to inadequate meat handling.

Meat trimming to remove damaged meat

Step 1: We started with a batch of goose breasts where the shotgun pellets were already removed. There was still some trimming left to do.

Step 2: Be meticulous as you go through the meat. If you see a pellet hole, you must cut it and clean it out.

Here's an example with a non-bruised breast, with hidden blood cloths and pieces of feathers inside the breast.

Step 3: Most silverskin is removed. All pellet holes are now cleaned out. The breasts are mostly intact. Some petite strips will be great taste tests that will dry faster.

A bunch of good eating, maybe stir-fry-ready strips of meat, were also saved, which is not in the picture. Roughly as much bloodshot meat as stir-fry-ready meat had to be discarded.

Wipe the breasts with a paper towel, then do one last inspection and knife cleanup before calling it good.

Weigh, measure, mix, and coat.

Combine all the goose meat and weigh it. This is the weight that the other ingredients will be based on. We go by the percent of the meat weight for exact, repeatable results.

I like a little bit of black pepper flavor. If you would like to experience the pure taste of cured dried goose breast, go for it. I bet you will be amazed by the end result that will be similar and still different compared to torkat kött. By keeping the flavors pure and without smoke or even black pepper (just use 2.25% salt, 0.25% cure#2), it will retain the wild, untamed flavors that are very palatable and will, together with the saltiness create an addictive dried meat.

You can measure the ingredients down to 1/10 of a gram using a pocket or spice scale.

Mix all ingredients well together. Spread half of the dry ingredients over the meat, then turn the meat over and sprinkle the other half on top of the meat.

Work gently with your hands and massage the spices into the meat.

Once all spices are mixed in. Vacuum pack and let it rest for 2 weeks up to several months.

One Month Later

After a month of EQ (equilibrium) curing the goose breasts are ready.

9 big goose breasts and some smaller pieces. The smaller ones will dry faster and will be great taste tests. After 35% weight loss we can start sampling them and find our preferred weight loss ratio as they continue to dry.

Pieces of the same size will dry at the same pace. Measure a few or all of them and write down, the start date, the start weight, and the end weight. My preferred ratio for most salumi is 40% weight loss.

The smaller pieces can be connected with the help of a trussing needle and butcher's twine.

Half of this batch of Oca will be applewood cold smoked overnight and then dried with the others.

The Oca can dry in any space that has some air movement and is between 33°F - 50°F. Ideal humidity is 75 rH to 85rH but since the meat is so thin you can also dry it where it's less humid- like the fresh Montana mountain air outside my house. An occasional cold spell is OK, it'll only slow down the drying.

Remember that the drying meat will be sensitive to outside scents. The outside, with mountain air, is probably better than inside a stuffy garage.

Since it's still too warm outside the Oca gets to dry with the companionship of prosciutto in this drying chamber.