In our last Taste of the Wild feature, we shared Chef John McGannon’s tips for brining your tougher cuts of meat. Chef McGannon suggested the combined process of cold-brining your raw meat, followed by braising.
Braising is a simple technique that starts with the searing or browning of meat in a frying pan. After being seared, the meat benefits greatly from slow, gentle cooking that gradually breaks down those resilient muscles and connective tissues. Slow cooking is even more critical when dealing with lean, highly developed wild game muscle groups. Shoulders, necks, bottom rounds, eye rounds, heels, and shanks all shine in braised dishes.
4 venison bottom rounds (or shoulder roast), about 2½ pounds each, tied with butcher’s twine, and that you already have brined;
Oil for braising the meat (canola, olive or corn oil);
3 ounces tomato paste;
10 small ginger snap cookies (added after meat is cooked to thicken the sauce)You’ll enjoy pot roast, stews, and fricassee prepared in this fashion, but one of Chef McGannon’s family favorites is his Grandma’s Sauerbraten recipe prepared with venison.
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
Remove the meat from the brine and pat dry. Strain the brine, saving the liquid and the vegetables. Heat the oil in a heavy-gauge pan. Brown all the meat and hold on the side. Now you want to deglaze your pan, to capture the flavorful meat residue from the bottom of the pan. Using the vegetables from your brine, add these to the browning pan and cook the vegetables until golden brown.
Add the brining liquid and tomato paste. Stir the sauce to break up the clumps of tomato paste and scrape the bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan.
Place the browned venison into a deep roasting pan and cover with the tomato brine liquid. Cover with aluminum foil and place into a pre-heated 350-degree F oven for about two to two and a half hours or until the meat slides off a fork. Place the venison in a pan and cover with foil. Place the sauce into an appropriate pot and simmer for a couple of minutes. Be sure to skim any fat, oil, or scum that forms on the top of the sauce. Crumble the ginger snaps and add them to the sauce as you stir. Let the sauce come to a simmer. The cookies will thicken the sauce. You want a medium consistency for your sauce. The sauce will continue to thicken, so don’t be too quick to add more cookies. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, a splash of vinegar (which adds tartness due to the acidity) or sugar, depending on your personal taste, if necessary. Strain the sauce through a fine strainer. (This is important to remove the whole spices that originally were part of your brining solution.) The finished sauce should be a balance between sweet and acidic and have a brilliant shine. Allow the meat to rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting.