Updated: May 7
We may be a few weeks past Saint Patrick's Day, but in this house it's never the wrong time of year for corned venison. This has become one of our favorite ways to make venison roasts, and we eat it all year round - although it's best on a cold and rainy day!
This recipe takes quite a bit of time to cure - the venison has to sit in the brine for a week. Therefore, I like to make several roasts at a time and freeze the extras to cook another time. I usually package and freeze them in sets of two, which is enough for our family of four adults to have for dinner and lunch the next day.
Corned venison is much leaner than corned beef, and the long, slow cooking renders typically tough or dry venison roasts tender, moist, and easily shreddable. We usually use the large roasts from the hindquarters of the deer for this recipe, such as the rump roast or "football" roast, because they make the nicest slices for a traditional boiled dinner. But you could use almost any large cut of meat for this recipe, especially if you are going to shred it for hash or corned beef Reuben sandwiches. Curt appreciates how this has simplified our deer butchering process - instead of taking the time to cut roasts up into individual steaks, we save most of the roasts whole so we can make this recipe instead!
Corned venison uses #1 type curing salt, also called "pink salt," which supplies the nitrites necessary for the curing process. This is different from Himalayan pink salt, so make sure you purchase the correct type! I buy mine on Amazon from Hoosier Hill Farm. The nitrites are essential for preventing botulism during the curing process, so don't leave them out.
The brine recipe I use is adapted from Hank Shaw at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. I've adapted the herbs and spices to our tastes, but the salt quantities are the same. After the roasts have cured in the brine for a week, all you have to do is boil them with some vegetables and you have a traditional Irish American feast with a backwoods twist!
Brine The Venison
2 Venison roasts, about 5-6 lbs total
1/2 gallon water
1/2 cup table salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 oz #1 curing salt (about 2 1/2 tsp)
1 Tbl whole peppercorns
1 Tbl whole mustard seed
1 Tbl dried thyme
1 tsp. ground coriander
6 bay leaves
5 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
Put all of the ingredients except the venison in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool, covered, until the brine is room temperature. Add the meat, making sure the roasts are completely covered. Place the pot in the fridge and let the meat brine for 7 days, turning once during that time so that every side cures evenly.
(This part is forgiving - if you aren't ready to cook after 7 days, it's okay to leave the roasts in the brine for a few days longer. This last batch brined for 10 days because we were busy. Just know that the longer it sits in the brine, the redder and saltier it will be).
Cooking the Venison and Vegetables
2 corned venison roasts, cured as above
2 Tbl maple syrup
4 bay leaves
1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
6 whole cloves
3 lb red or gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
1.5 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
1 head of cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
Place the venison roasts, maple syrup, herbs and spices into a large pot and bring to a boil. Do NOT add any salt - the meat is very salty and will flavor the broth! Simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 30-40 minutes longer, until they are easily pierced by a fork. Add cabbage and simmer 15 minutes longer. If there isn't enough room in the pot, remove the potatoes, carrots, and venison with a slotted spoon and cover with foil to keep warm, then cook the cabbage in the broth separately. Serve with maple mustard sauce (below) and a thick slice of soda bread! Store leftover meat with a little bit of the cooking liquid to keep it from drying out.
Maple Mustard Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbl maple syrup
Whisk together and serve over everything!
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