Monday, June 2, 2014

Last Fall's Harvest, This Spring's Sunday Dinner.....

I harvested a very nice deer last fall in the Sierra and have been enjoying various ways of preparing the amazing flesh from that beautiful animal. I've avoided though the smoker. I'd never smoked wild game and was worried that I'd ruin it and it'd come out dry and tough. Most of the recipe's I'd found either called for wrapping the meat in an armor plate of bacon or in some way braising it in the smoker. I wanted this stuff to still taste like venison, not bacon.

Decided to give it a whack this weekend though with a roast that had a fairly good bit of thin silverskin running all through it. I didn't label it when I butchered the deer so I don't recall if it came from the shoulder or hind 1/4. I figured if I kept it low/slow long enough I could get that stuff to break down and contribute some moisture.

Started by putting together a simple brine with a handful of allspice and pepper corns and a bit of sage that I allowed to steep in the brine as it cooled. Plopped the roast into the brine and let it do it's thing overnight.

At about noon the next morning I fired up the Lang for the first time this year. Used coastal oak to bring it up to temp and get a good coal bed going but did the smoke using all apple wood. While the cooker was coming up to temp I took the roast out of the brine, rinsed and dried it, then trussed it up. I then applied a simple rub that I use for brisket (dalmatian with a few extra bits) and by 1pm the smoker, stabilized at around 225, and the venison were ready to meet.

I wanted to be very careful with internal temperature so I used a couple of digital probes inserted at near the end and dead center.

Like a knucklehead, I decided to experiment with this when we were having people over for dinner so I had that pressure going for me as well.....and I doubled down on it by deciding to make two sides that I'd never made before either, braised red cabbage and Käsespätzle. At least I had something to concentrate on and worry about while the smoker was running so I wasn't opening the cooker to peek every 10min. Either way, I was worried and had the local Neapolitan pizza joint on speed dial ready to go just in case.

I pulled the roast out of the smoker when the internal temp hit 155. Let it set on the counter for about 20min to halt the cooking, then foiled it and popped it in a cooler for about 1-2hrs to rest while I finished the sides.

Well, as it turned out I did not contribute to the coffers of the Italian gentlemen downtown. It turned out great.

 Loved the way the apple wood and sage played with the flavor of the game and the texture was fantastic as well. It wound up quite tender and moist as well. I served it with the red cabbage (which kinda lost it's color before it was tender...not sure why) and the Käsespätzle and a drizzle of a black truffle / red wine reduction that I whipped up (just in case it was dry) while I was resting the meat.

 All in all, quite the success and a great Sunday dinner in the back yard with good wine, and good friends.


  1. Tell me more about the cheese spaetzle. Is it mixed into the dough, or applied afterwards?

    1. Cooked the spaetzle then dropped it in an ice water bath to halt the cooking. Drained then began layering it into a casserole with gruyere and a few pinches if butter. Popped that into the oven until the cheese was melted and the top a bit browned.