A favorite on our homestead this time of year is cured venison loin – a wonderful, lean proscuitto-like product best served up in paper thin slices with some good cheese.
After the deer is dressed we cut it into 5 primal cuts – 2 hind legs, 2 front legs and the torso and bring it in one or two pieces at a time for processing. It’s also easy just to strip the loin out while the deer is hanging. The loin and the tenderloin, after the organ meats, are usually the first cuts we deal with.
Once the loin is cut out I divide as much as I want to cure in sections about 6” long.
We usually use Morton’s Sugar Cure and always have good results with it. It’s important to weigh out both the meat and the cure. For cured venison loin I use 1/2 ounce per pound of meat. Morton’s Sugar Cure does contain both nitrates and nitrites, so if that’s a concern you might want to simply use salt or a salt/sugar mix.
2 1/2 pounds of meat gets 1.25 ounces of cure.
The cure is sprinkled evenly over both sides of the meat and rubbed in well. Always use stainless, wood or plastic containers for curing meat. Depending on the weather we might cure our meat at anywhere from right above freezing to near 50 degrees. It will cure faster at warmer temperatures but at minimum we give the loin pieces a week per application of cure. Bloody fluid will accumulate around the meat, so check it daily and pour it off if it gets over 1/4” deep. For dry curing large pieces like hams a perforated or slatted container works best.
By day 3 the cure is dissolved and you can see some shrinkage in the cuts. Notice the bit of blood at the bottom of the pan.
Next installment: Overhauling and a second week of curing, then drying and smoking.