Warning: My inner New Yorker is going to come out in this recipe, so bear with me.
Some would say that New York City is best known for Times Square, Broadway and a ton of other notable landmarks. But, to me, I'd say it's most known for the deli's. In "The City", you can get just about anything you want regardless of the time of day. In the morning on your way to the office, you can grab a fresh bagel or a roll lathered with butter. Despite sounding utterly plain and boring, these rolls are delicious with a cup of coffee, trust me. In the afternoon, you can name just about any type of meat, get it sliced and have it made into a sandwich, or a "hero" as they're commonly referred to. A true deli prepares its own food from scratch. It's not just a place to get sliced turkey from the display case. They've got a system and it's operating 24/7. Whether it's brined, smoked or simmering on the stove in two gallons of gravy, these deli's aren't putting out boring ham and cheese sandwiches. And though the possibilities are nearly endless, perhaps one of the most iconic lunch orders in the history of New York is a corned beef on rye, piled just about as tall as the ceiling.
As I kid, I remember going to Katz's Deli with my Dad, ordering a couple of hero's and watching as they sliced the meat on the deli slicer. "How in the world am I going to finish that?", I wondered. When I say that they're piled super high, you've likely never seen anything like it. Who knows how that came to be, but I could care less, it's a thing of beauty.
So, as I stared off into the freezer a few weeks ago, pondering the idea of a new recipe idea, I went back to thinking of the deli's that I came to love as a kid. Surely, I could replicate something with venison, but what would it be? Then it occurred to me, why not create something a little bit different and corn a venison roast?
Now, sometimes the name throws some people off. No, there is no actual corn in this recipe. But the term refers to using "corns" of salt or large pieces to cure meat. In its iconic form, corned beef is a brisket that sits in a salt cure for about a week, before being simmered or steamed and served in many ways. So, step one on this adventure is to make the brine.
Ingredients for the brine
1 gallon of water
1/2 oz of juniper berries
1 large cinnamon stick
1 1/2 oz of pickling spices
1 Tablespoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of #1 salt
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
In a large pot, add 1 gallon of water and the rest of the dry ingredients. Bring to a boil. Once boiled and the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn the heat off and let cool. I actually will transfer the brine to a container and let it sit in the fridge overnight before continuing. However, you can continue once the brine is at room temp. It's absolutely critical to not place any meat into the brine(or any brine for that matter) before it's properly cooled. Otherwise you run the risk of starting to cook the meat.
Once the brine is cooled, place your roast into the brine, cover and place back in the fridge for 7-10 days. Depending on the size of the roast that you're using, you might feel like it needs the full 10 days or maybe 5 days would be enough time if it's on the smaller side. The roast that I used was about 2.5 lbs, so I chose to let it sit for 8 days.
Unlike a slow cooker, you can open the lid from time to time to see what's going on, but fair warning, you don't see much change. Don't worry, this is normal. Once it's cooked and sliced is when you'll see the difference.
When it's time to cook, you can prepare it in a number of ways. Traditionally speaking, corned beef is often simmered or steamed until the meat begins to break down and can easily sliced. Unlike a fatty beef brisket, a venison roast is extremely lean, so the final product is not going to be exactly like its beef cousin, however, it will still be plenty tender and mighty delicious. I find that at home, the easiest way to cook this is to gently simmer it in water, with some extra pickling spices for a couple of hours. After a couple of hours, I pulled the roast and let it sit before slicing. Upon slicing, you'll notice the incredible color on the inside, this is all due to the brine and the #1 salt. Whether you choose to eat it on its own, or add it to a sandwich with some sauerkraut and spicy mustard, you won't be disappointed.