Main Dishes | Posted January 11, 2013
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Go into the woods with a big gun. Sit quietly and wait. Pull the trigger and watch the bullet steal the life from your prey (a deer please, not something else). Cut up the deer and store the meat for later, set aside two 1' sections of back straps.
Deer is what they call "gamey", because when you don't see them they are sitting around playing Monopoly and Scrabble (not Words With Friends on a table, it's called Scrabble, OK). They are pretty good at these games and try to get new ones, but Wal Mart won't let them into the stores. So, they get this strange flavor from sitting around and eating tree bark and leaves and farmer's crops.
We must destroy this flavor. We are legion.
Grab your big zipper bag. If you can get a brining bag, that's better. We used our last one on a turkey (because he was talking shit) and so I had to use a gallon (insert name brand here) bag. I stuck it in a big bowl, because the bags gets all wobbly like you do after a half a bottle of whiskey. For good measure, get your bottle of whiskey out and take a swig. We're not fancy here, so there's no need for a rocks glass and ice. Drink your drink and be happy. It will help you forget that you can't eat this meat for at least 18 hours from now anyways.
-- Side note: I actually just remembered that I did this step in a big bowl and covered it with the worst plastic wrap I have ever used. If you want to know which plastic wrap to avoid, it's the one that's synonymous with "happy", which is funny because I was more mad (which it rhymes with) than I was happy. Also, my fridge stunk like onions afterwards. So, use a plastic bag. --
This process, the one where you put all the meat, veggies [onion, carrots, celery], salt and water in a bag is called brining. So, you should put the meat, water, salt and veggies into your bag. Don't overflow the bag you (insert name calling here), you've got to zip the thing up!
You have an option here, you could skip to the dry rub recipe before you do the brining and put some of the dry rub into the brining bag. This worked really well when I did a pork butt once before (mostly because it was in the recipe I used. I should say though, that I couldn't tell you if it made a difference, because frankly I didn't try the raw pork when I pulled it out of the bag and I immediately rubbed the rest of the dry rub all over the pork).
Put your bag oh goodies in the fridge overnight. Try to get at least 8 hours in the salt water bath, it's like bath salts (not the freaky eat-your-face kind, the lavender relaxation kind) for your meat and will help to hydrate the meat while pulling out the irony blood that makes it so gamey. One friend told me to squeeze the blood out of the meat before I start cooking with it. You can do that, but I think you're required to wipe the blood on your face like war paint after, so I didn't do it.
While your meat is taking a cold bath in the fridge, you can get ahead of the program and make the dry rub. Take all the spices in the list of ingredients up above (yeah, that's one hell of a list!) and put them all in a bowl. Mix them up. That was easy.
Now, sit in a rocking chair with your bottle of whiskey. Drink your whiskey. If anyone comes by and asks why you're sitting there drinking whiskey just look at them for a second contemplatively and say the word "Soon". Let them ponder their own existence for a while.
In the morning, take your meat water bag out of the fridge. Drain it wherever you see fit, just don't drop the meat in the toilet. Pat the meat dry with a towel or your t-shirt. Put the meat on a cookie sheet. Now, since this is sort of an aging process you should probably use a cooling rack between your meat and the cookie sheet. I don't have one, so I didn't use one and my meat turned out awesome. Do what you want. No, seriously. I don't care anymore. Just do what you want.
Get your dry rub out. Hopefully no one went after it with a spoon. It is pretty tasty, I'll admit it. I ate some of my dry rub before I put it on the meat. Give your meat a dry rub massage, shiatsu probably won't work here because you'll make a mess. You should have a nice think crust of dry rub over the whole of both pieces of meat. Set them on the cookie sheet (or cooling rack you fancy snob). Wrap the whole thing up in aluminium foil (al-oo-min-ee-um for you Englishy people) and set it back in the fridge. Go back to the bottle of whiskey (you'll probably need another one at this point) and repeat the mantra of "Soon" until the next morning. Technically, you could pull them out the same night if you rubbed them down in the morning, but they will taste better if you can have another sleep before you cook them.
Here's the hard part: deciding when you will eat the meat. The reason is that this only takes about an hour to cook on a smoker, because deer are lean with so little body fat (probably because people keep trying to kill them with cars and guns) and the meat is so thin. So, you've got to say "Self, I want to eat this deer at whatever o'clock, so I should start my grill and give myself an hour to cook this meat before whatever o'clock." Now that you've done that. You'll have to do it again, because you're going to want to let your meat sit for an hour in foil before you eat it (it's high-philosophy in barbecue-aria to let your meat sit in foil for a bit before you eat it because it lets the moisture soak back into the meat particles). So, talk to yourself again and get enough time before breakfast to smoke your meat (hehehe).
I used a digital thermometer, because frankly how often do you cook venison that you can tell just by looking at it that it's done? I can get pretty close with beef and pork, but there's no way I can do that with venison. Get to 140 degrees internal deer meat temperature. Pull the meat off the smoker, wrap it in foil, grab your whiskey and drink for one last hour (you're doing great, you're a champion).
Now, you can eat your meat. (hehehe)
The brine recipe was adapted by memory from the recipe we used for the turkey two Thanksgiving's ago (lots of salt, veggies, waiting). The Dry Rub Recipe adapted (aka stolen) from page 380 of The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue, which I received for Christmas. It was the first cook book I picked up to look for a dry rub recipe and so that's where I got it. Oh, also, I tried to half the recipe and in the middle stopped halving so that's why this recipe doesn't match. Hilarious.