I was on a trip to New York City one cold day in November, and checking all the tourist must-see boxes I possibly could, the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen was next on my list. Known for its mile-high pastrami sandwiches, I ordered mine up at the counter and walked out of the deli uncomfortably full but incredibly satisfied and curious as to this style of brining, curing, smoking and steaming the meat.
Upon returning home in the peak of the Tennessee rut, I was fortunate to harvest a beautiful whitetail. So after doing my research, I learned that the whole muscle roasts in the rear hams of the deer (elk, antelope, moose etc.) can easily be used to make a venison version of this deli style meat. I love using the cuts of meat which are typically just thrown into a grind pile or used for jerky and making an absolutely remarkable use of their capabilities. I went to work on trying to replicate this iconic dish with venison instead of the typically used beef. Although it takes a bit of time and patience, I can assure you it’s completely worth it.
Next time, have your meat processor pull the whole muscle roasts for you, or if you’re like me and process your own deer, save those roasts for this recipe. You’ll thank me later. Now I can enjoy that big city deli style taste from the comfort of the country. Pile this high on some rye bread with spicy brown mustard, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese with a side of dill pickles and enjoy!
4-5 lbs of venison roasts. Can combine multiple roasts to get there
- 1 gallon water
- 2 tbsp pink curing salt (I use Instacure #1)
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp pickling spices
- 3 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- In a non-reactive pot, combine the water and ingredients. Place on the stove and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, place the pot in the refrigerator and allow it to cool.
- Add meat to the brine mixture, making sure the meat is fully submerged, and place in the refrigerator.
- Brine in the refrigerator covered for 4-5 days.
- After 4-5 days, remove the meat from the brine and rinse with cold water. Dry with paper towels and set aside.
- Start your smoker and set to a temperature of 250 degrees.
- Combine your rub ingredients and generously rub the meat covering all parts with the rub. If you need to use a binder for the ingredients to stick, I recommended a small amount of yellow mustard for this.
- Add the meat to the smoker until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.
- Once the meat reaches 150 degrees, set your oven to 275 degrees. This is the final step in the pastrami making process. This steaming allows the connective tissue in the meat to finish breaking down.
- Fill a roasting pan with an inch of water and place meat on a wire rack, making sure the water does not touch the meat. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for one and a half hours.
- Remove from the oven and let the meat rest.
- Serve sliced venison on rye bread with spicy brown mustard, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a side of dill pickles. Enjoy!