By Ken & Maria Perrotte
Note: For more than a decade, Ken and Maria Perrotte were the wild fish and game cooking columnists for Virginia Wildlife magazine. Check out many of the recipes on the "Food" page of this site.
Like many of us who have more than a wee bit of Irish in our DNA – and many who don’t for that matter – a heaping bowl of corned beef and cabbage stew is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Lately, to get our Irish fix, we’ve annually labeled for corned venison a couple wrapped, boned-out deer roasts destined for the freezer.
Corned venison is easy to make, but you have to make some adjustments since venison, by its nature, is a lot less fatty than the meat going into traditional corned beef. We add some beef fat to the equation. Corned venison is versatile. It makes for a great sandwich or use it in the classic corned beef and cabbage style. If you decide to freeze it, include about 1 cup of brine and some beef fat in the freezer bag.
2-2 ½ pounds whole boned venison round roasts, well-trimmed. We use top, bottom and or eye roasts
1 rounded tablespoon Tender Quick (in spice section of grocery store)
1/3 cup well-packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons whole black peppercorn
2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 very large (or 2 medium size), strong bay leaf
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons salt
Ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 each juniper berries
3 ample tablespoons beef fat (suet)
3 cups water
1 cup ice
Additional Ingredients for Stew
4 medium potatoes (quartered)
1 medium head of cabbage
3 large carrots (quartered
Salt/pepper to taste
Corned Venison Preparation
Heat water and dissolve Tender Quick, sugar and spices. When thoroughly dissolved, add ice to help brine cool. Use a fork or something like a Jaccard meat tenderizer to pierce the meat all over. Place it in a heavy plastic freezer bag. Add beef fat and cooled brine. Refrigerate for 7-8 days, mixing and turning at least once a day.
To cook for sandwiches, place meat and fat in a pot, along with any spices and brine mixture that clings to it when you remove it from the freezer bag. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 to 3 hours until fork tender. Cool and slice against the grain. It’s great with a brown mustard and a pickle. You can also top it with a nice sauerkraut, cheese and mustard for a corned venison Reuben.
For a classic corned meat and cabbage, cook as above until meat is tender. Add cabbage (cored and cut into 6 or 8 wedges), potatoes and carrots. Add water until ingredients are covered. Cook another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Ken likes to mash up the potatoes and carrots in the slightly peppery broth - Níl a fhios agat! Serve with a nice, creamy dark beer. Naturally, the “black stuff,” Guinness comes to mind. Sláinte.