Monday, October 25, 2010

Venison Braise

It's bow hunting season, and a neighbor gave me 2 deer in 3 days recently... well, most of 2 deer anyway. Just half the backstraps, tenderloins and hams, but all of the rest I wanted. A lot of it is in the freezer now, awaiting fine-tuning into smaller cuts and/or to grind for sausage, but it wouldn't all fit in the freezer.

Usually I can deer meat and it comes out fork-tender, but I just got a new book on braising meats and I decided to try a braise with some tougher parts. I used one neck, 4 shanks and some odd bits that I think were cut from shanks also.

I used a long, slow braise... 20 hours at 200-210ºF, and the results are incredible!

First I removed as much of the silverskin and fat as I could, and browned the pieces in a little olive oil. That was hard to do because each piece was longer than my largest skillet, but at least the meatier ends got browned. Unfortunately I was too busy to take pictures during that process. Sorry. 

Meanwhile, I poured some boiling water over about 2 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms and set them aside to rehydrate.

After browning the meat, I removed it to a platter and lightly sautéed the vegetables in the same pan: celery, carrots, onion and garlic but needed a little more olive oil. I used about 4 times the amount of vegetables shown in the photo below... that photo is from another dish, same day.

In a big pot, I heated 2 quarts homemade chicken stock and 2 cups dry red wine. Drained the porcini through some cheesecloth (saving the liquid) and roughly chopped the mushrooms. To the stock/wine mixture, I added the meat, vegetables, mushrooms and filtered liquid, a dozen or so black peppercorns and a few sprigs fresh thyme from the garden. (I didn't add any salt although there is some in the chicken stock. I prefer to add salt while making a dish since I don't always know ahead how I'll use such a large quantity as this.)

I didn't have quite enough liquid to cover the meat so I heated another quart of stock to add. Covered my pot tightly with foil and placed it in the preheated 200º oven. (The pot has a lid but it wouldn't fit in the oven with the lid on!)

Finally, I went to bed... with delicious aromas wafting through the house... it cooked almost all the next day before I took the pot out of the oven and peeked. Man, what a delicious smell. Sometime before I fell asleep, I remembered my oven runs low by about 10º, so I increased the setting to 210º.

Now I have 3½ quarts of deeply colored, calcium-rich gelatinous stock, and several pounds of tasty, tender meat (there was more meat still in the pot when I took the photo above). I'll freeze the meat in meal-size portions with some of the stock, and freeze (or maybe pressure-can) the rest of the stock. 

I'll use some of the meat for a venison and sprouted-barley stew, made with both hulled and pearled barley. I'll thicken some of the stock for a venison meat sauce to serve over wide noodles, some for "pulled venison" in a BBQ sauce, and I'll use some for a mountain version of paella (sans seafood). I've had a Cuban dish called 'Ropa Vieja' which translates as 'Old Clothes' and would be good with this shredded venison and some yellow rice. 


Would I do it again? You betcha... but probably not with so much meat at once, and the shank bones/neck cut in half to brown and handle easier.

Edited to add: After eating my fill, I put up 6 containers (16 oz.) of meat with a little broth, and 6 containers of just stock, for the freezer. The braise was so tasty that I used almost the same braise, just different spices) for 2 racks of venison ribs, but only had them in the braise for about 2 hours, enough that they were very tender. Then brushed some BBQ sauce over them and into the 350º oven, cooking just until hot and delicious. (I would have finished them on the grill rather than the oven, except I was out of natural charcoal.)

I'll have more venison preps coming soon, including sausage. Stay tuned!


  1. just thought to tell you about the realization of my addiction to your blog.

    Came to me that this is the first forum/blog/list that I go to lately after checking my weather every day when I log on.

    Thanks Darius *bfg*

    Blog On sister,

  2. Well, THAT comment sure brought a big smile to my day... Thanks!!


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