Wild Game Pastrami

 
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The world of charcuterie can be intimidating. This is not. Pastrami (meat that has been brined, partially dried, seasoned, and then cooked) requires more time than skill to create, an excellent beginner’s charcuterie. This recipe can be made with just about any whole muscle cut you have around, be it waterfowl or venison.




 
 

Waterfowl: Both skin-on and off breasts are appropriate here but the skin adds an extra dimension to the final product. Large domesticated or store-bought magret duck breasts can also be used, with an adjusted brining and cook time.


Venison: Any large venison roast will work, but the shape and grain direction of the outside round/bottom round is ideal. It will look like a miniature beef brisket. You’ll need to trim most of the fat and silver skin off, but don’t stress getting every little piece off.

This pastrami is equally at home nestled into a Reuben with homemade sauerkraut and rye bread or as part of a charcuterie board.


 

 

Wild Game Pastrami


Prep time: 1 hour active, 48-92 hours inactive

Serves: many

 
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Brine:

⅔ cup brown sugar

6 tbsp kosher salt

5 tsp insta cure #1

2 tbsp whole coriander seed

2 tbsp yellow mustard seed

2 tbs whole black pepper

2 tsp fennel seed

1 stick cinnamon

1 tbsp chili flake

2 tsp clove

6 bay leaves


Combine all ingredients with enough water to dissolve them (about 6 cups) and bring to a simmer, allow to cool and then add enough cold water to make one gallon of brine. It is important that your brine is under 40 degrees fahrenheit before use, otherwise, your meat may cook or remain at an unsafe temperature for a prolonged period of time.

Spice Rub:

3 tbsp brown sugar

3 tbsp salt

3 tbsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp coriander seed

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp juniper berries

2 tsp ground chili flake


Combine all ingredients and pulse in a food processor or spice grinder until evenly coarse.


 

Pastrami:

4 goose breasts or 6-8 duck breasts, plucked clean (or skinned), around 4 lbs total

or

1-2 venison roasts, around 4 lbs total


Make brine and spice rub.

Submerge the meat (venison or waterfowl) in the cooled brine, make sure everything is fully submerged. Use a ceramic plate on top if needed. Refrigerate according to the following time table, agitating daily to allow even brining.

12-24 hours for small duck breasts

18-24 hours for large duck breasts

24-36 hours for magrets/goose

72-96 hours for venison roasts

After the brining period is over, remove meat from brine and pat dry. Apply spice rub evenly to all sides of meat.

After the rub has been applied, it is time to smoke the pastrami.

For waterfowl: Preheat smoker to 250F, place meat on racks (skin side up) and smoke on top racks until internal temperature hits 140F, for approximately:

1.5 to 2 hours for duck breast

3 hours for goose or magret duck breasts

For venison: Start with a cold smoke (under 100 degrees) for 2 hours, then increase temperature to 250 degrees until internal temperature of the meat hits 140F. This will take approximately 3 hours but will depend on the size of the cut.


Alternate sous-vide method: Cold smoke the meat (venison or duck/goose) for 2-4 hours, remove from racks and vacuum seal. Place in sous vide bath set at 140 for 2-8 hours (2 hours for ducks, 3 hours for magrets/goose, 6-8 hours for venison). Cool down in ice bath.


Allow to cool and slice on the bias.