By now, most of us that hunt deer have plenty of venison in the freezer, the majority of which will be prepared in the usual way, i.e., chicken fried steaks, roasts, venison bacon wraps, barbeque, jerky, deer chili, etc. In recent columns, we’ve been talking about recent hunts and the gleaning of the meat. So, this week, let’s visit about actually putting all that fresh venison to good use!
I’m about to tell you about a method of turning venison into mouthwatering meat that if purchased from a specialty butcher shop would come with a hefty price tag. Do you enjoy a tasty Reuben sandwich made from corned beef? Or what about corned beef and cabbage around St. Valentines Day? I guess the real question here is, do you love corned beef as much as I do? If you do, read on. I’m about to tell you how to turn those venison roasts or backstraps into the tastiest ‘corned venison’ imaginable!
I have made corned venison several times and by following the simple instructions with comes with the seasoning kit, it always turns out very tasty, even better than corned beef I believe probably because the lean venison lends itself well to the ‘corning’ or curing process. There are many different recipes for corning beef or venison but I’ve found a kit that costs a few dollars from Butcher Packer Supply does a great job. I had much rather have everything pre mixed and ready to go than purchase all the different spices, cure, etc.
Once you have the kit, which consists of a packet of corning seasonings and another packet containing the curing salt, you are ready to go. I use the roasts from the upper portion of the venison hams but because we love corned venison so much, I sometimes even use the highly cherished backstraps. Three or four pound roasts work just fine.
Make sure and use a fillet knife and remove all the outside membrane on the roasts. With the roasts trimmed, it’s time to mix the seasoning/cure packets with 2.5 gallons of fresh water in a plastic container or crock that will fit into your refrigerator. Make sure and keep stirring the mixture until it’s well dissolved. Next, using an injector needle, ‘pump’ the solution thoroughly into each roast. You will know the meat is loaded with the solution when it begins oozing out the holes made by the injector needle.
I usually pump (inject) the roasts while they are in the solution which eliminates a lot of mess. Once the roasts are loaded with the spice/curing salt solution, place the container in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
After the prescribed curing period, remove the roasts (now corned venison) and rinse in fresh water. They are now ready to cook and become the primary ingredient of a Reuben sandwich, corned venison on rye or corned venison and cabbage.
Just how you decide to cook the venison depends upon the recipe you wish to prepare. We love the venison Reuben sandwiches so much that we cook the meat and then vacuum seal it so that we are only a couple minutes in a micro wave away from a tasty Reuben.
When I first began making corned venison, I boiled the meat for 3 to 4 hours slowly to get it very tender. Now, I put the meat into a pressure cooker and it’s ready to eat in about an hour. The key to good corned meat, whether it be beef or venison is cooking it until it’s very tender and slow cooking with moisture is the only way I know to accomplish this.
I’ve thought about doing a test in my Smokin Tex electric smoker and putting some smoke flavor to the corned venison. That should be very good and it could be done by either smoking the tender, boiled meat for a couple hours, right out of the solution and then wrapping it in foil and slow cooking in the smoker until tender. But for now I will stick with the tasty boiled corned meat, it’s a tried and proven method.
Once you have the cured venison cooked until tender, you are ready to enjoy your first hand made Reuben sandwich. Only a few ingredients are required for a Reuben but some good fresh rye bread is a must. Begin by toasting the bread with a couple slices of Swiss cheese then once the cheese is melted, top with warm corned venison, slather it well with Thousand Islands Dressing and add a bit of the Bavarian style sauerkraut.
After giving this method a test run, I’m betting you will be devoting more of your venison to the corning process and less to the more traditional methods. Nothing takes the place of tender fried backstrap, cream gravy and rice but it is nice to have the makings of a Reuben sandwich in your freezer and ready to go on a moment’s notice!
THE WINTER REN-DE-VOUX will be held in Greenville, just north of the square on the 4 wooded acres adjacent Carquest Henley Auto Supply 1408 Stonewall St.
Come by and visit with Luke - campfires, booth, fishing and hunting guides, outdoor cooking, live music and plenty of hunting and fishing talk. Or give Randy Koon a call at 903-456-3048.