Let’s face it. Buying any meat in the grocery store these days is expensive. Yet, there seem to be few wild game recipe options to help hunters avoid buying the heavily preserved and over-processed luncheon-style sandwich meats. 

Does anybody really know what’s in some of that stuff? With this recipe – all natural, lightly smoked, and thinly sliced – wild game becomes a killer snacking meat or sandwich centerpiece. Though the process takes a while to complete, there’s surprisingly little hands-on time, and the tender end result impresses even the fussiest eaters. 

Prep Time: 15-30 minutes
Serves: 10+ depending on how much meat is processed

Ingredients:

  • Venison roasts or full hind quarter
  • Morton Tender Quick
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Pure maple syrup (optional)
  • Local honey (optional)

Equipment Needed

 

Venison Deli Meat
You'll want a good meat slicer if you want the really fine, delicate slices. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


In order to really knock this one out of the park, you’ll need both a meat slicer and a means of smoking – a dedicated smoker, pellet grill, or even a smoke tube for standard grills. Yes, you can slice the meat by hand, but you’ll never achieve those delectable, paper-thin slices. Our weapons of choice are the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill and Weston slicer, both of which have been in use for years. 
 

Meat Prep

 

Venison Deli Meat
You can modify the ingredients to match your tastes, but these are the keys to our personal recipe. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Select some nice cuts of venison. This recipe works well with many types of wild game – deer, elk, bear, exotics, and more. We find roasts from the hind quarter work best. Trim away excessive fat or silver skin, but don’t get too finicky. If your smoker and brining container are large enough, you can actually use a full, boned hind quarter. For space and handling constraints, we broke down a whitetail hind into several smaller cuts. 

Curing the Meat


This is one of the only times we use Morton Tender Quick, and it’s best to add 1 tablespoon for every 2 pounds of meat in this recipe. Sprinkle the meat with this first. If using an entire hind or an especially thick cut of meat, it’s best to allow the Tender Quick to work for a few days before adding the other ingredients. With the exception of the meat cure, seasoning the remainder of the marinade is mostly done to the chef’s taste.

After adding the Morton, season the meat with kosher salt and black pepper. Add two shakes of Worcestershire per pound of meat. We prefer a slightly sweet taste, which can be achieved with either half a cup of maple syrup or honey per large roast of meat. 

If you don’t care for sweetness, omit the maple syrup. This part of the recipe can really be modified to your individual tastes. Have a sweet tooth? Double down on maple syrup and honey, too. Like garlic? Swap some of the kosher salt for garlic salt or even fresh minced garlic. Like heat? Add your favorite hot sauce or dried and ground chili peppers. 
 

Waiting Time

 

Venison Deli Meat
Before you smoke it, be sure to let the meat cure for several days. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Find a suitable container for the prep process, but remember it must either fit in the refrigerator or stay in a similarly cool environment. Stoneware crocks, glass pans, or even large Ziploc bags all work well. If you opt to vacuum seal the meat to speed up the process, you can cut your curing time considerably. We prefer to go the traditional route, occasionally rotating and massaging the seasoning into the meat. 

Cure for 5-7 days in the fridge, adding time for an entire hind quarter or lessening days for smaller cuts. By the end of that time, you’ll notice the meat has achieved a firmer feel. When complete, rinse the meat thoroughly to remove all the Tender Quick and seasonings. Soaking it briefly in cold water works best to accomplish this task. Toss the water, pat the meat mostly dry, and prepare the smoker using your choice of wood. If you prefer a little seasoning coat on your meat, feel free to add your choice before smoking. 
 

Smoke
 

Venison Deli Meat
Our smoking tool of choice is our well-loved Camp Chef. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Once the preparations are complete, it’s smoking time. Get the smoker temp up to roughly 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit, which is “low smoke” on our Camp Chef. Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. It’s important to monitor the internal temperature. If you’re smoking multiple roasts at one time, as we are, watch those smaller ones because they’ll finish sooner and need to be removed first. 
 

Venison Deli Meat
Monitor internal temps carefully so you don't overcook the meat. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The key is to reach medium rare, or roughly 145 degrees for the internal temp. Depending on the chunks of meat, this can take anywhere from 3-8 hours, but be sure not to exceed 150 degrees, as this is key for proper, tender meat. 
 

Serve & Preserve

 

Venison Deli Meat
What store-bought meat can compare to your own homemade slices of smoked wild game? (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Though you could potentially freeze the entire smoked roast, we opt to slice everything once it cools completely. As a side note, it’s easier to slice when the meat is plenty cold. Then, portion the slices into individual servings, vacuum pack, and freeze. Of course, we always keep some fresh for snacking, and it never lasts very long. 

It’s great not only for sandwiches and melts but charcuterie boards as well. This homemade venison deli meat comes out fresher, more tender, cheaper, and all-around tastier and more satisfying than store-bought meat – and it’s 100 percent your own meat! 

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