I tried a new variation on the neck roast from a deer I took this year. I always make it a point to harvest the neck roast from any deer I take and I take the time to get all of it and keep it as the biggest piece I can. If it comes out decent, I’ll try something new with it. But in most cases, it comes out kind of scraggly and it’s ground along with the skirt meat from around the rib cages into sausage meat.
This year, I got it out in mostly one scraggly piece of meat. I took it and the skirt meat and weighed it out. I made up a spice mix (below) and added it with the meat, and tossed it in the fridge for a couple weeks, turning and massaging it every other day.
Venison Ham (It tasted like pepper loaf in the end)
2280 grams of venison neck and skirt meat
2.25% kosher salt
.25% Cure #1
2% turbinado sugar
12 juniper berries, crushed
.5 Blk. pepper
.50% basic steak seasoning
Add all spices to the meat, massage and add into plastic vac bag, scraping all of the spice and salt into the bag as well. It’s ok to wash the bowl out with a bit of distilled water just to drain ALL of the spices/salt into the bag. Seal and put in fridge for 7-10 days (or as long as you want if you are using EQ).
When I found a moment, I got it out, rinsed it off, and laid it on some clean dry towels just to soak up as much water as possible. I laid out a few layers of plastic wrap and I spread the neck roast out like a big carpet. I got out the transglutamase (TG, meat glue, that will bind proteins together) and sprinkled it directly on to the meat in a liberal fashion. I layered on the skirt meat and alternated sprinkling the TG. I was looking for a uniform thickness of meat that I could roll up in the plastic wrap like a big sausage. The pics below will illustrate it better.
Mind you, the TG I had expired in 2015… ugh, but what the heck, it was an experiment. Once it was rolled up tight in the plastic wrap, I slipped some netting over it, and pricked it with the sausage pricker to let all the air pockets out. Since it was a mass of shredded meat, I massaged it a bit to force all the air out that I could. Now it was to sit to let the TM set.
It sat in the fridge for two days before I took it out, slipped off the netting and carefully took it out of the plastic wrap. Then I slipped the netting back on to it and got the smoker going. The smoker was set 10 175F. It fluctuated between that and 200F for about 9-10 hours. I filled my water pan at the bottom with water to keep a decent amount of moisture going. You’ll smoke to an internal temperature of 155F. Remember, the smoke is handled first thing while there’s still a good pellicle. Once that’s gone, it stops taking smoke for the most part… so, add the smoke early on… then let finish out to the needed internal temperature. I also added a tin-foil tent at the half-way point just to try and keep the surface from drying too much. This let the moisture come straight up under the ham and the foil tent.
It was really hard to not rip in to this at this point, but I wrapped it good in tin foil and set on the counter until it cooled enough to go into the fridge. Yup… it get’s chilled over night, and then sliced in the morning.
Overall, it turned out great, and I’ll definitely be doing this more. The meat glue did it’s job… but since it was old, the seams did come apart a bit as you can see in the pics. It still wasn’t a big deal. When it was sliced, it kind of fell apart… the way you’d like if you were layering it onto some rye with a plop of saur kraut. It was good on crackers with mustard, and just straight up. I suppose you could fry it in a skillet too… but, it’s fully cooked at this point, and it really just works as a lunchmeat.
I should mention my inspiration for this project was from Chris Varner’s “Ham-Grenade” that is posted in the Salt Cured Pig group on Facebook. Chris is another daring salumiere I like to watch among the many other talents there. If you’re really in to curing and drying, I whole-heartedly recommend these groups on Facebook. They provide a wealth of inspiration and knowledge… and have a passionate readership who’s highly engaged.
Hope you can try it this with your next deer harvest… and let me know how it goes!