Shank, Neck, Flank & Ribs
The easiest way to use these cuts of meat is to grind them, however, if you are looking for a bit more “personality” from your venison, these cuts of meat can deliver interesting and tasty dishes that are entirely unique from any other cut of the animal. In fact, the shanks have become a household favorite as they posses a texture different from any other part of the deer.
For 2013, a goal of mine has been to better learn how to use the neck as a whole cut of meat. Mind you, I’m not talking a deboned, roast, I’m talking cooking the neck in its entirety. Having had a successful 2012 deer season in which I put 7 deer in the freezer, I was able to reserve 6 whole necks for the dedicated task of this goal (One of them was given to a friend).
In my first experiment, I did a Osso Bucco adaptation which worked well, however, the main goal hass been to work these necks on the smoker for the Summer “BBQ Season.” With May being National BBQ Month and with some friends coming into town, I decided that now is the time to get started. To add pressure to the task, one of the vistors had never eaten any wild game before and, in fact, expressed strong reservations about eating venison. For the occasion, I decided to use a smaller neck from a doe, a buck shank and a medium size sirloin tip. The sirloin tip was basically my “back up” in case things did not go so well with the tougher cuts on the smoker.
8 oz. Season Salt
1/8 cup smoked paprika
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tbl garlic powder
2 tbl dry mustard
2 tbl cumin
2 tbl black pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
Then fired up the smoker early in the morning until it was holding a steady 225 and pouring smoke. After about 6 hours, I wrapped each cut of meat in foil and added some stock mixed with the rub, essentially allowing the meat to lightly braise on the smoker for 2 more hours. At this point, I moved the meat to a dutch oven for a full on braise (Stock, Rub and bacon fat) at 350 degrees for 2 hours. The reason that I did this is because I was concerned about the meat drying out after too much time on the smoker.
This 2 step process worked very well and the meat was ready to be pulled and served with BBQ sauce (recipe at bottom of page). The shank and sirloin came out extremely well, though the neck might have could used a bit more time in the braise. Once the meat was pulled and mixed together, the slightly tougher Neck meat was not noticeable and our first time venison eater with strong reservations was given his introductory taste of venison using some of the toughest cuts on the animal, and was entirely pleased, if not a bit excited.
During the pulling process, you do have to take you time and carefully pick around the gristle near the bone of the neck, of which, there is a fair amount, however, the task more than makes up for itself with the sheer gratification of using a tough cut as well as having plenty of BBQ available without having to dip into your precious stores of “tender” venison.
The next step will be to tackle one of these 12-15 pound Buck necks and lose the “back up” sirloin cut.