Venison bacon is a mouthwatering and easy-to-make dish that allows you to put your venison harvest to good use. While it may not be made from a whole muscle meat like pork belly, deer bacon combines ground venison with a fatty cut of pork to achieve that irresistible bacon flavor. Thanks to a mixture of cure and smoke, you’ll end up with flavorful venison bacon-like strips that can be used in a variety of dishes, from BLTs to salads. Here’s how you can make your own venison bacon.
Tools and Ingredients
To get started, gather the following tools:
- Meat Grinder with 3/8” and 3/16” plates
- Meat Lug or Large Food-Safe Container
- Disposable Aluminum Tray
- Smokehouse (such as the electric Pro Smoker PK 100, which uses sawdust for that authentic smoky flavor)
- Deli Slicer (optional, but it can speed up the process)
For the meat block, you’ll want to maintain a balance between lean venison and fatty pork. Aim for a ratio of 50% venison and 50% pork trim, which will result in approximately 80% lean meat and 20% fat. Pork trimmings from the shoulder or butt are typically available at your local butcher shop. Feel free to use any cuts of venison you have on hand, such as sirloin or steaks.
Grinding and Mixing
To achieve the perfect texture for your venison bacon, it’s recommended to grind the meat twice. Start with a 3/8″ plate and follow it up with a 3/16″ plate. However, the magic lies in protein extraction rather than the grind size.
Protein extraction involves pulling the protein out of the meat and binding it with the fat, resulting in a sliceable texture. You’ll know your meat is ready when it becomes sticky, tacky, and there’s a seamless blend of protein and fat.
Seasoning and Cure
Once your meat is ground, it’s time to add the venison bacon seasoning mixture. Consider using a cure blend specifically designed for venison bacon, such as the Ekilove Venison Bacon Cure, which includes seasoning and cure for up to 25 lbs of meat. This blend adds a touch of maple flavor and the perfect amount of salt for a rich and full-bodied bacon taste. It also contains sodium erythorbate, which acts as a cure accelerator and enhances the cured appearance of the meat.
Feel free to experiment with additional seasoning options. For a spicier kick, try a topical coating of the Ekilove Bacon Bomb Jalapeno Hickory seasoning. You can also opt for cracked black pepper to achieve a peppered bacon flavor or a sweeter seasoning like Apple Pie for a delightful salty-sweet combination.
Before smoking, ensure that you’ve achieved a good amount of protein extraction. The meat should be sticky and pasty, with the venison bacon seasoning well-distributed throughout. Pack the meat tightly into an aluminum pan, pressing down periodically to eliminate any air pockets.
Although it’s optional, allowing your meat to rest overnight will enhance the flavor and color development. Before refrigerating, tightly cover the pan with plastic wrap to preserve the meat’s freshness.
When smoking your venison bacon, it’s essential to gradually increase the heat to avoid rendering out the fat too quickly. The Pro Smoker PK 100 electric cabinet smoker is an excellent option for maintaining lower temperatures while providing a dense pit smoke.
Preheat your smokehouse to 135 degrees F and smoke the deer bacon for one hour. Then, increase the temperature by 10 degrees every hour until the smoker reaches 180 degrees. Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the venison bacon reaches 150 degrees F.
Once your venison bacon reaches the desired temperature, allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Once completely cool (around 40 degrees F), slice it up, fry it to perfection, and indulge in the mouthwatering taste of your homemade venison bacon.
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