Cold-Smoked Venison and Large Game

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Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

By A D Livingston

Published 2010

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Most game tends to be on the dry side as compared to pork and feedlot cattle. Even so, it can be pickled and cold-smoked. In Russia, for example, bear hams are salt-cured and smoked exactly like pork. The hams, shoulders, and saddle of deer smoke nicely, if you first use a sweetened pickle in the proportions of 1 pound salt, ½ pound brown sugar, 2 tablespoons sodium nitrite (optional), and ½ cup juniper berries per gallon of water. If you have a whole deer and a large pickling container, put the hams on the bottom, the saddle in the middle, and the shoulders on top. (some people recommend that the deer be aged for a week or so before starting the pickle, but I don’t think this is necessary if you have a good deer that was cleanly killed and promptly field-dressed.) You can also add the ribs and perhaps the tenderloin along with the ribs, but I like to start eating on these right away. Be sure to keep the meat completely submerged in the pickle. After 3 days, remove the top layer or two, dry the meat, and start cold-smoking. Turn the other meats and stir the pickle. After another 3 days, remove the shoulders, dry them, and start cold-smoking. After another 3 days or longer, remove the hams, dry them, and start cold-smoking. The shoulders should be smoked for 1 week, the saddle for 1½ weeks, and the hams for 2 weeks or thereabouts. During cold-smoking, it’s best to rub the venison from time to time with bacon drippings.