Smoked Venison Country Ham and Biscuits

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Deer season has come to a close, and many of us are looking to make room in our freezers – perhaps by tackling that large “special occasion” cut that’s eluded cooking since last year. In my case, that cut was a hind leg from a small doe. Using Hank Shaw’s Smoked Venison Roast as inspiration, the leg was coated in salt and sugar, vacuum-sealed, and refrigerated for about 10 days before a long, slow smoke over hardwood charcoal and applewood from local pastures.

There are plenty of tasty uses for the leftovers, but this recipe pays homage to a regional Virginia specialty: the country ham biscuit. Country ham is a cured pork creation that takes months to prepare, but the diminutive size of the venison leg allows the rub to penetrate and result in moist, exceptionally smoky meat that’s not unlike country ham.

The key to this recipe is maintaining temperature to ensure a beautiful smoke ring without drying out or overcooking the meat. The biscuit sandwiches are served with carved slices of smoked venison, honey butter, and green tomato jam – harvested just in time for our first frost. The flavors of the sweet, rich butter and tangy jam pair nicely with the salty, lean venison.

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Smoked Venison Country Ham and Biscuits

Recipe by Heidi ChayaCourse: Wild Recipes
Servings

5-10

servings
Prep time

5

hours 
Cooking time

5

hours 

Ingredients

  • 1 bone-in venison hind leg, about 5lbs

  • Kosher salt

  • Sugar

  • Green Tomato Jam
  • 3 medium green tomatoes

  • ½ medium onion

  • 2 cups water

  • ¼ apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp celery salt, or to taste

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Serve With
  • Buttermilk biscuits (or your favorite kind of biscuit)

  • Honey butter

Preparation

  • Weigh your venison leg in grams, and measure out 1% of its weight of kosher salt and the same amount of sugar.
  • Generously coat the entire leg, making sure to work the rub into the meat and around the leg bones. You can use a tray or bag to keep things tidy and make sure all the rub gets onto the meat.
  • Vacuum seal the leg and refrigerate for 2 days per pound of venison. We did 12 days for a leg that weighed about six pounds. Flip the meat over once per day.
  • Remove the leg from the vacuum seal bag and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry.
  • Heat a charcoal or pellet grill to 175F-200F degrees. Add your desired wood chips or chunks – apple, cherry, and hickory are good choices.
  • Smoke the venison leg over indirect heat for 5-8 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches between 120F-140F degrees when a meat thermometer is inserted in the thickest part of the meat, without touching bone. The meat should be cooked no further than medium.
  • While the meat smokes, make the green tomato jam. Roughly chop the tomatoes and onions and puree in a food processor until just a few larger chunks remain. Add the pureed vegetables and remaining ingredients to a saucepan, bring to just below boiling, and simmer for 2 hours or until most of the liquid has reduced and the jam takes on a golden color.
  • Once the venison leg is smoked, let it cool for ten minutes before slicing and serving. Halve the buttermilk biscuits and spread them with honey butter and green tomato jam. Add a few thin slices of smoked venison and enjoy. The leftover sliced meat can be frozen or eaten within a week.

Heidi Chaya

Heidi Chaya is a food journalist, farmhand, and avid home cook. Her experiences living and working in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley provide her with many opportunities to expand her culinary horizons and continue to learn and grow through fishing, foraging, and hunting.

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