Braised Venison Shoulder

Think of this as “pulled venison”,­ a wonderful and simple way to show off one of the least respected cuts. It’s a guaranteed hit, even among folks that aren’t too sure about wild meat.

Try this just once and you will never again grind the shoulder or deal with the fussy cutting and trimming needed to break it down into separate cuts.

This video was taken with a very old cell phone and doens’t make the meat look as good as it does in real life.
I used it anyway because it shows the texture well and how the bones pull free.


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This recipe very adaptable. It works for a variety of flavoring styles (mexican, greek, bbq, etc) and is dead simple.

It's also excellent with other meats—even domestic—but is best with cuts rich in connective tissue, like shanks, neck, and of course shoulder (butt or chuck from pork or beef respectively).

Removing bones first may be necessary if you are trying to fit it into a slow cooker to finish cooking after browning in the oven. Otherwise leave any bones in until after it's cooked, so long as everything fits in your pan.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Adaptable
Servings
shoulder
Ingredients
  • 1 whole Shoulder —If there's room toss in a couple of shanks too
  • Some Rub —Your favorite rub, BBQ, Mexican or ?. Should be salt based. Cavenders Greek is great.
  • 1 cup olive oil —Approximate
  • Some braising liquid —stock, beer, apple juice or ?, enough for 1" depth
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
Mirepoix
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Adaptable
Servings
shoulder
Ingredients
  • 1 whole Shoulder —If there's room toss in a couple of shanks too
  • Some Rub —Your favorite rub, BBQ, Mexican or ?. Should be salt based. Cavenders Greek is great.
  • 1 cup olive oil —Approximate
  • Some braising liquid —stock, beer, apple juice or ?, enough for 1" depth
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
Mirepoix
Instructions
— Prep & Browning
  1. Trim shoulder, aggressively removing any shot damaged areas. Coat with olive oil. Apply rub liberally—don't be shy.
  2. Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate overnight in something to hold leaks.
  3. Preheat oven to 400­°F
  4. Unwrap and place directly on the bottom of a greased roasting pan (no rack or grate).
  5. Drizzle a little more olive oil over roast and add mirepoix (onion/carrot/celery).
  6. Place in oven, uncovered. Turn occasionally until evenly browned (an hour or so).
— Braise
  1. Add braising liquid to about 1 inch depth, or about halfway up the meat.

    No need to be precise, but two things you should NOT do: completely cover the meat, or run out of liquid while cooking.
  2. Lower oven to 300­°F. Cover pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
  3. After 2 hours check every hour or so to see there is at least half an inch of liquid left (add more if needed). Also check the meat consistency. When it is fall­-off-­the-­bone tender, it's done. The bones should easily pull free and clean (see the video above). It should take about 5-­8 hours depending on the size and/or age of the deer.

    Remove the meat from pan, cover in foil, and set aside.

    If using domestic rather than wild meat the cooking time will be shorter.
Make the sauce! The braising liquid is now supercharged with great meaty flavor. Making a sauce is a great idea with any braised meat—but doubly so with a lean game meat.
  1. Strain the liquid. Ladle off any visible fat.
  2. Mix well 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp. cold water to make a thin, pourable paste. Slowly whisk into the braising liquid. Simmer briefly to thicken.
  3. Season sauce to taste (it will have lots of your rub in it already) and either serve on the side, or pour over meat and lightly toss. If necessary return meat to oven covered, to bring it back up to serving temp.
  4. An alternative to making this sauce is to save and freeze the braising liquid, re-using to braise your next venison shoulder. The flavors will intensify with every generation. But freeze it right away, it's highly perishable.

    If you aren't making the sauce, consider adding a little fat (lard might be best) to coat the current batch of pulled venison before you toss.
— Serve
  1. Best kept hot and served right away. It refrigerates and freezes fine, but when reheating venison can be dry and will need to have some liquid or fat tossed in.
Recipe Notes

For convenience you can skip the browning step and go straight to the braising, but it won't have quite as much flavor.

The best stock for braising liquid would be venison or beef. Home made is best.  If you don't have that much stock handy, "Better Than Boullion" base (beef or pork or vegetable) is a fine substitute. It's cheap and good and, yes, way better than bouillon.  Most grocery stores have it in the soup aisle.

If the whole shoulder won't fit in your pan without hanging over the edges, split it into 2 by working a knife through the shank joint.  No need to be fussy about it, you'll soon be pulling the meat off the bones anyway.

The recipe is also perfect for shanks and heels from the hindquarters—tough cuts with LOTS of connective tissue.  They are transformed from a grinder-clogging annoyance into a lip-smacking treat.  I freeze them whole (no trimming - yay!) and toss a couple in with the shoulder if there's room.

View online at http://KillerNoms.com/braisedshoulder

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