Many cuts work well, but a boneless roast from the hindquarter is best.Loins or even steaks work too, except they tend to fall apart while cooking. You could prevent that by securing them with twine or butcher’s netting. Do this after the brining but before the cooking.
Cooking via the “sous vide” method instead of simmering takes a bit longer but produces better texture and flavor, with noticeably less shrinkage. More on that below.
"There should be no rules in the bedroom or kitchen. The exception is curing meats. The rules for this process are rigid."
Funny, but not a joke. Creating a great cured meat product is not hard but requires a little care and precision. Please read "The Rules" in the notes section below the recipe before you get started.
- 7 lbs boneless venison — Boned, trimmed. Larger roasts like rounds and sirloin knuckles are best.
- 85 g powdered dextrose — Can substitute table sugar if necessary.
- 85 g salt
- 23 g #1 Cure — e.g. Instacure #1 or Prague Powder #1. See "The Rules" in Recipe Notes below.
- 3785 ml water — preferably distilled or boiled & chilled. Not chlorinated.
- 3312 ml (amount of meat displacement) — add this value to the water value above to calculate the size of the smallest brining tub you can use. Add some wiggle room so you don't make a mess.
- 3 oz (weight) powdered dextrose — Can substitute table sugar if necessary.
- 3 oz (weight) salt — By weight.
- .8 oz (weight) #1 Cure — e.g. Instacure #1 or Prague Powder #1. 1 oz ≈ 2 Tbsp (6 tsp). See "The Rules" in Recipe Notes below.
- 4 quarts water — preferably distilled or boiled & chilled. Not chlorinated.
- 3.5 quarts (amount of meat displacement) — add this value to the water value above to calculate the size of the smallest brining tub you can use. Add some wiggle room so you don't make a mess.
- 1 cup pickling spice — by weight 4 oz per cup.
- 1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
- 3 Tbsp ground allspice
- 24 whole cloves
- 6 cloves garlic — Crushed or diced
- 3.5 oz (weight) Coriander
- 3 oz (weight) black pepper
- 1.6 oz (weight) dill seed
- 1.6 oz (weight) mustard seed
- 1/4 oz (weight) mace
- 1/4 oz (weight) Clove
- 1/4 oz (weight) chili flake
- Optional garlic powder, brown sugar, paprika
- 99 g Coriander
- 85 g black pepper
- 45 g dill seed
- 45 g mustard seed
- 7 g mace
- 7 g Clove
- 7 g chili flake
- Optional garlic powder, brown sugar, paprika
Water and dissolvable Brine ingredients (metric)
Water and dissolvable Brine ingredients (imperial)
Other Brine ingredients (dry-blooming all but the garlic is a good idea)
Imperial after-brine rub if cooking via sous-vide (grind well but not to a powder):
Metric after-brine rub if cooking via sous-vide (grind well but not to a powder):
- Weigh all of your meat and adjust the recipe "servings" value to be sure you're using the correct amount of ingredients. Before actually brining, be sure the meat is well trimmed with all surface silverskin and any bones removed. Use the Nitrite Curing Calculators" (link in "The Rules" in the Recipe Notes section below). This confirms the right amount of cure for your batch, and how long you should brine it. For venison set step 1 to 200PPM. For beef, 150PPM. Brining too long is better than too short, within reason. If when slicing the cooked roast you see a grayish area at the center, that part was not cured because it didn't have sufficient time.
- At least a day before brining, heat the "Water and dissolvable Brine ingredients" in a large pot, stirring occasionally. No need for a full boil, but holding it above 140°F for at least 30 minutes will kill any microbes that snuck in on your spices while it teases the flavor out. Remove from heat, and chill to refrigerator temp before proceeding.
- Optionally inject some brine into the center of larger roasts to shorten the time needed to complete curing. Strain out the solids before loading the injector to prevent clogging. Corral the meat in a clean container while injecting to capture any brine that escapes, and return it to the rest of the brine.
- In a non-reactive vessel such as glazed crockery, glass or food-grade plastic, submerge the meat in the chilled brine. If needed, use non-reactive items like ceramic plates to be sure all of the meat is held under the surface.
- Hold between 34 and 39°F (1 - 3°C). Most properly adjusted refrigerators are perfect. The garage, barn, root cellar, under the deck, etc will be too warm, too cold, or will fluctuate too much.
- Stir the brine and re-arrange the meat daily, making sure all surfaces get exposed to the brine. This is called "overhauling" for some unknown reason. It is more important than it sounds – don’t skip it.
- When the brining time is finished, remove and rinse the meat.
- Place roasts in a large pot of water.
- Optionally toss in a couple fists full of pickling spice.
- On high heat, cover the pot. Watch carefully until it starts to boil, then lower the heat until it settles at a very slow simmer.
- Cook 2 1/2 hours, covered. A water temp of 185°F is perfect. Check occasionally — but nothing to stress about so long as it doesn't spend much time at a full boil.
- Remove the roasts. Serve hot or cold. They will have shrunk a lot. Don't worry, all the meat is still there!
- Optional rub - more traditionally associated with Pastrami than Corned meat, but I love it: After rinsing roasts, pat dry, then moisten with Worchestershire sauce and pack on as much of the rub as they will hold - don't be shy.
- Bag each roast separately and cook 10 hours @ 180°F (82°C). NOTE: You may prefer different temperatures or durations. Read this excellent analysis by Chef J. Kenji López‑Alt from SeriousEats.com.
- Remove from bag, reserving the liquid.
- Strain the reserved juices to use for simmering vegetables such as cabbage and potatoes. It will be INTENSE stuff, especially if you rubbed the roasts. Also useful to moisten sliced corned meat while gently reheating.
Corned meat freezes very well, and like any cured meat lasts a long time in the fridge. Serving suggestions: Corned venison and cabbage, corned venison hash, or venison Reuben sandwiches. Om nom nom!
Pastrami is a fantastic cousin of traditional corned meat. Instead of cooking in water the roasts are first smoked then steamed. It is always rubbed prior to smoking. Here's a good recipe from "The Meat Eater"
Some EXCELLENT sauces to accompany this wonderful meat:
- Mustard Sauce
- 1 cup Sour cream
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp sugar
- Horseradish sauce
- 3 Tbsp butter melted with 2Tbsp flour > light roux
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup prepared horseradish)
|“Eye of round” roasts, or loins from smaller deer are perfect to slice into medallions for hors d’oeuvres. A platter of miniature open-face Reubens on slices of rye “party loaf” will get rave reviews.|
The Rules: Curing meats has specific rules. I recommend you read this section, then use the calculator mentioned towards the end to determine the correct amount of cure and the time needed to properly brine your roasts. The defaults in the recipe may not fit. This is extra important if you have a large, thick roast in your batch.
The recipe uses a wet "equilibrium curing" process for boneless meat. #1 cure is 1/16th Sodium nitrite (with an "i") mixed with 15/16ths salt, tinted pink to avoid confusing it with plain salt. It's called Instacure #1, Prague Powder #1, and several other names. Though some just call it "pink salt", don't confuse it with Himalayan pink salt, which is NOT a cure. There is also a #2 cure, based on nitrate (with an a), which is used for things like long-term curing of dried salamis. #1 and #2 are NOT, repeat NOT interchangeable.
It is important to be accurate when measuring cure. Weight is the safest repeatable measurement. If you don't have a precise digital kitchen scale, get one. They are like ten bucks on Amazon, tend to take typical kitchen abuse without failing, and work great.
The goal is to infuse the meat throughout with the quantity of salt and sodium nitrite sufficient to inhibit pathogens and produce the unique flavors and textures associated with cured whole meats like corned beef brisket.
This default recipe is based on 7lbs of boneless trimmed venison roasts brined in a gallon of water.
If you adjust the weight of the meat in the recipe to something other than 7lbs, make note of the amount of water the recipe now calls for. Then head over to this handy on-line calculator created by food scientist Professor Greg Blonder: genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/nitritecuringcalculator.html.
Set the step 1 slider to 200ppm for venison, or 150ppm if you're slumming it with beef or some other domestic meat. Prof. Blonder says "Venison has a more minerally flavor than beef, so a bit more curing salt is needed to reveal its characteristic 'hammy' notes." Enter the weight of your batch of meat in step 2. Enter the new water amount in step 3. Make a note of the amount of cure now called for.
Then scroll up and, using the thickness and shape of the thickest roast in your batch, enter those values. Make note of the resulting number of days you need to brine to assure proper diffusion of the goodies. If it's more days than you care to wait, read Prof. Blonder's note right below the results. Injecting the brine is a safe and effective shortcut. Or you could just cut the thickest roast into thinner pieces and re-compute.
The calculator accounts for how long it will take the cure to diffuse sufficiently through the cuts of meat for food safety and for the wonderful flavor magic to happen. Scroll up a bit more to see a link to a youtube video Prof. Blonder has created to illustrate how that diffusion really happens.