Curing a venison ham

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Nov 27, 2013
Heartland of America
I have done this twice before, with subpar results. One was moist but too salty, one was too dry. But after reading numerous successful posts using Pops' cure recipe, I am trying this again. (It also helps that between my son and I we added three deer to the freezer this year).

The dry ingredients for two gallons (with a little less than a quarter cup of garlic powder added).

I had to add another gallon of brine later.

The star of the show: A 18.5 lb. bone-in venison ham.

All set for a four-week nap in a commercial refrigerator. (Unless Pops or another expert gives me some better advice).

The hard part for me will be leaving it alone until it is ready to smoke. I'll post more when that time comes.
Looks like you are off to a great start! I love Pop's Brine recipe for curing ham. Did you inject along the bone as well?

Good luck, and I'm looking forward to hearing how it comes out for you!
Did you add additional cure, salt, sugar etc when you added the extra gallon of water to the brine ... and did you inject the brine in several places along the leg and hip bones.......

When you make this one, if it is too salty or not enough remember to keep notes. After you get the flavor figured out how you like it it will be the same over and over.
I injected multiple times, especially along the bone. And I am taking careful notes (I bought a notebook to keep track of everything I smoke; something I did when I homebrewed).

Depending on how things work out, I still have some large roasts in the freezer to try this again, thanks to a successful deer season. My fingers are anxiously crossed, and I can't wait for the next four weeks to pass by.
I did a deer backstrap several years back just using Morton tenderquick dry cured.  It turned out good, anxcious to see how this works out!

Put it in the smoker at 140 degrees around 2:45 pm. I am using a combination of hickory (25%) and apple (75%). It is currently 7:00 and I have slowly raised the smoker temp to 180 degrees. The IT is at 120. I plan on pulling it at 155.

I had no stockinette, but I tied it. I don't know if it might start to separate, but I didn't want to find out the hard way.

This is a photo from the most recent update at 7:00. I couldn't help sneaking a peek, and decided to take a pic as long as I had the door open anyway.
I didn't post last night because it was so late, but here is a pic of the ham after cooling off a while.

I couldn't help cutting into this last night, sampling again before church this morning, and then again after we got home. This is some REALLY good stuff! My wife, who watches her salt intake, says it isn't salty enough (I would agree a little more salt wouldn't hurt). My teenage daughter, who rarely has anything positive to say, called me "her hero"

Here it is this morning before I finished cutting it up:

I separated it into the major muscle groups, like I usually do when processing a deer (Top Round, Bottom Round, and Sirloin Tip), and also saved scraps and the bone to make soup later. I can't wait for that!

I froze the Top and Bottom Round, and sliced the Sirloin Tip (a view of the Sirloin Tip above after slicing in half) for sandwiches. My guess is that the slices won't last long.

The wife mentioned that this all seemed like a lot of work, but I now have some deer meat that tastes like no deer meat I've ever had, and might be some of the most delicious meat I've ever had. This is also VERY tender and juicy! Add me to the list of Pop's Brine fans.
Is there any game taste to the meat since it was not deboned and processed? Just wondering if the brine and smoke took care of that
No gamey taste at all. Now, it doesn't taste like a pork ham. The texture and flavor might be closer to pastrami. There is a lot of smoke flavor, and between that, the brine, and care during processing of the deer, it has none of the gameyness that some people complain about with deer meat.
You can cut the work in half by doing two hams at once! You could cut the brine time by boning before brining and then tying up a boneless ham. You can still smoke the bones for soup if desired.
Just out of curiosity how long did the meat hang before you brined it?
Hmmm……I think this deer hung for maybe four or five days? My son shot it and skinned it out on a Sunday morning. I believe I went back to the farm to get it on the following Thursday evening. I took the next couple of days to process it (the meat stayed on dry ice or in a cooler outside in 20 degree temps). The ham went into the brine that Saturday, so less than one week from field to brine.

Good suggestions on the next ham. I'm always willing to take good advice. I do think I want to hang the next one in the smoker, but that will probably be next year. I might get the urge to brine and smoke one of the roasts we have in the freezer, though. That sirloin tip is too good not to do this way again.
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Just a quick update: Tonight I used one of those 15-bean soup mixes and simmered the beans with the ham bone. I later threw in a can of diced tomatoes, a package of pork roast seasoning, and some onions and garlic with about ¾ of a pound of the ham "scraps". This turned into an incredibly delicious soup! The smoke flavor was intense; I'm guessing that the bone had a lot to do with that. I told my wife that I may have to start saving the bones when we process deer just to smoke them and use them for soup stock (great advice SB59!).
I've also cured and smoked deer shanks " in stead of just grinding the meat for burger " then froze for later use in pea or bean soups. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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