Looking for a different recipe for breakfast or your next holiday meal? Try wet-curing an entire venison ham. The process takes a bit of time, but it’s a simple one. And the results are unlike any venison you have ever tasted. For quick brining, we use Morton’s Tender Quick in our cure for this recipe. It should be available at most grocery stores near the canning jar section.
We love to slice the finished ham thinly and use it just like we'd use a pork ham. It makes a mean sandwich. For extra flavor, we smoke the cured ham in our Traeger Grill at 200 degrees until the center of the ham reaches 150 degrees.
To fully penetrate the venison with the cure, it’s important to inject some of the brine directly into the muscle. Use a marinade injector with a large-bore needle to get the brine down around the bone and evenly distributed inside the dense venison muscle meat.
1 whole, 7- to 10-pound bone-in, venison ham
2 gallons of water
1 ounce of Morton’s Tender Quick per pound of ham
2 cups sorghum (substitute brown sugar if you don’t have sorghum)
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
6 garlic cloves, whole
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
A smaller ham works well for this recipe. This one came from a midwestern doe. Try to get one in the 7- to 10-pound range to allow complete cure penetration.
Start by trimming away most of the outer fat and silver skin from the ham. I prefer to remove the small gland that lies at the base of the eye of round, between the top and bottom round cuts. You can get to the gland by making a small cut along the seem between the roasts. You can skip this step, but be careful not to slice through the gland when serving the ham because it has a strong flavor.
Once your venison leg is trimmed, weigh it. You will need to know the weight of the ham to figure the correct amount of Tender Quick to use in your brine. In a large pot, heat 2 gallons of water. Add 1 ounce of Tender Quick per pound of ham, along with the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture boils, remove it from the heat and pour into a clean, non-reactive container slightly larger than the ham. We use a plastic kitchen tub, but a food-safe bucket also works well.
When the brine has cooled to room temperature, place the ham into the liquid. Use the marinade injector to directly inject brine into the ham, paying particular attention to the inner portion around the bones and the centers of the largest areas of meat.
If your ham floats, use a glass or other non-reactive dish to weigh it down so that it is completely submerged. Refrigerate for 7 to 10 days, flipping the ham in the brine at least once per day.
Once the ham has cured, rinse it and pat it dry. Place the ham on the rack of your Traeger Grill or use butcher’s twine to suspend it from a top rack in an upright smoker. Smoke at 200 degrees for 6 to 8 hours until the center of the ham registers 150 degrees on your thermometer. Allow the ham to cool, then remove the meat from the bone and slice thinly.
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