Sunday, February 8, 2009

Venison Prosciutto

Remember this gory post back here? (After seeing it my sister cried) Since then a small doe's hind quarter has been hanging in the basement wrapped in cheese cloth. Every now and again I'd go down there and inspect. Humidity was generally around 40%, and the temp hovered between 45 and 50. From curing duck breasts in the past, I knew density was an issue, so I'd occasionally give the thing a poke to see how it was coming along. In general, I tried to ignore it.

Yesterday ignoring the hanging meat proved futile. I was helping a buddy store some stuff in my basement so that he could go off to play mercenary and fight pirates. Even to him, the sight of a cheese cloth covered hunk of flesh was startling. So after his things were all packed away I smelled, poked, and prodded the curing venison. It seemed good to me.
And there it is, in all it's deery glory. It was all very simple and remarkably unscientific. I tried reading up on the process on the interweb, but didn't have much luck. I spoke to a guy around here who has cured a pig leg or two, and that was helpful enough--particularly one tip involving lard--but still, no details abound. So screw it, I just covered the thing with salt for three days (see bottom pic) and put it in the fridge. After three days I brushed all visible salt off with a paper towel and coated the thing in a mixture of about equal parts ground coriander, juniper berry, and black pepper. I also rubbed it with pork lard, paying particular attention to the area where the bone was kind of sticking out (see next pic down).

That was it. It just hung in the basement for about a month and a half. There were no nitrites, nitrates, deep tissue massages, or otherwise pampering. And I don't think I'll do it any differently when I do this again. I'm curious about using a lard/flour paste instead of just lard, and maybe sea salt instead of regular kosher salt. But then again, if it ain't broke . . . .

Now it's just a matter of figuring out what to do with all of it. Like porcine prosciutto, a little goes a long way. Radicchio salad w/ pine nuts, parm, and a lemony vinaigrette?
Looks fine to me (except for those weak knife skills--I'll blame the lack of a suitable slicer).

Getting ready for a three day slumber in the fridge.


Anonymous said...

Oh, it is beautiful!

Your knife skills are fine and will improve with each "ham" you work your way through. Remember, the best hams in the world are sliced by hand not on a slicer.

I hope I get to taste your venison prosccuitto.


The CFT said...

Thanks Diane. And thanks for organizing the New Year dinner.

I think the slicing will come together, even if I don't have an ESP sticker on my car. There's potential with the chef's knife.

I'll make sure you get a piece.

Adam said...

This recipe is going to my aunt and uncle. They must bag 5-10 deer a year and have a garage big enough to store a leg of venison in. They're big on jerky so hopefully they'll give this a shot.

The CFT said...

Give it a shot -- get it? This was super easy and totally worth doing. Easier than jerky too, just a little riskier.

Steven said...

Whoa!!! I've been looking for a recipe for this!!!! So your post seems to start with the leg hanging in the basement. What did you do to prep it??? And most important, did it taste good???

Anonymous said...

Hey man, thanks for posting this, there is literally a void I'm the internet regarding skilled curing and prep for venison. Far too many stew and table recipes that look like slop when complete in my opinion. I am interested in finding a variety of dried sausage and cured meat preparations so off you have found any other resources I would love some advice if you feel like posting them.

Tys said...

So? still alive? eating this thing? how was it? what'd you do with it? have you thought about doing it again?
thanks for the great blog.

Anonymous said...

Hello hello....We have a buck in the shed, my boyfriend's biggest one yet (10 sturdy symmetrical points) and we want to make prosciutto...he is cutting it up while I research how to make it! basically we put it in salt for 3 days, then wipe that off, cover in seasoning, then lard, then cheesecloth, and hang in a cool airy place for a couple of months....? You'd say go for it? How exciting. Yum! Please let me know. Love Victoria

Food for Hunters said...

How did the fat taste? We always hear people say that deer fat tastes terrible.

Anonymous said...

Delicious! Well worth the time and effort it sounds like. Went on my first deer hunt this season and have it waiting in the garage to butcher up. My boyfriend is an avid hunter and we like to come up with new ways to use all of the different parts (he's a fantastic chef, I on the other hand...). I'll impress him with this entry in a couple of months though, just in time for his birthday! Thanks for the time and energy spent here, you are amazing.

Anonymous said...

I concur, how was it?

Anonymous said...

the ham in your photo looks phemonemal. any chance you might be willing to post the full recipe/process? thanks,m

Alex G said...

I killed a doe last week and am about to try the same process with one of its hind legs. The leg has been sitting in the fridge since we butchered it. There are a variety of recipes out there for venison prosciutto, and I am sure salt levels and drying times depend on local environmental conditions.

I see you're in Cleveland, as am I. My basement stays about 65F-70F and has low humidity all winter because the furnace is there, so I was going to try curing this in my attic. The attic is unheated, but remains above freezing, and retains a moderate humidity level. Do you think there's a temperature too low for curing prosciutto? If my attic gets to 40 degrees or lower, will that affect the final product negatively?

One other question, if I coat this leg in salt and leave it in the fridge for longer than 3 days, say 2 weeks or more, could that affect it negatively?

Thanks for your awesome blog, and this post. Any help is much appreciated.


Mark said...

Hey nobody has follow up on this venison proscuitto thing. Did the chef die? I have one in the fridge, been curing for 5 months. I'm willing to post pics and a story line/explanation of how I did it if anybody cares. Let me know.