Monday, October 28, 2013

Venison Mincemeat

This year is looking to be a two mincemeat year, especially if I want to finally finish the Northeast section of the cookbook. On Thursday, finding myself with some extra time, I tackled venison mincemeat. The first goal was to locate the venison. Not a problem. In DC, venison is available at the Eastern Market, at the poultry purveyor across the aisle from Union Meat. A good blogger would have made a note of the name of the stall, but sad to say, I paid cash and don't have a record of the name. In 2012, a blogger reported that she bought ground venison at Lets Meats in Del Ray, a neighborhood of Alexandria, and that it was sometimes available at Wegman's.
One may also find venison on the Internet.  is one of several businesses which sell venison by mail. I have never ordered from them. I am merely passing on the information.
Anyhow, I bought a frozen, two pound slab for about $29, and toted it home to defrost it. The recipe calls for Northern Spy apples. Unfortunately, Homestead Farm in Poolesville doesn't have Northern Spies. I got Staymans, an apple that was described as a good cooking apple, with a thick skin.
The recipe envisions the cook using the leftover venison, the tough cuts. Well, those of us without farms or a hunter in the family to bring down your deer, are not going to have tough cuts. The venison I got was insanely tender, as though the deer it came off  had spent its entire career sitting in a lounge chair drinking mai tais and having massages.
In order to deal with the supposed toughness of the meat, the cook is ordered to boil it until it becomes tender. I followed these instructions, with mixed results. This is a problem with Hewitt's recipes. The author probably made venison mincemeat every fall, after deer season. She/he knew how much water it took to boil the meat, etc. I didn't know how much water to use. You might try just adding everything and then cooking it without the pre boiling and be very sparing with the water.
Initially, my mincemeat was more like soup and less like a pie filling that could be dished out in ice cream scoops. I ended up boiling it for three hours to bring down the water content. The result was not satisfying in texture. The apples had virtually disintegrated, and the raisins were huge. I ground the meat in the Cuisinart, which left it very fine. You might want to try to get the venison already ground for a better texture.

Venison Mincemeat

5 pounds tough cuts venison, very finely cut or diced 
1 tablespoon plus one-quarter teaspoon salt
4 pounds Northern Spy apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups cider, scalded
1 cup unsulphured molasses
2 cups honey
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 pound raisins
1 pint blackberry brandy

1. Cover the venison with cold water. Add one tablespoon salt. Let stand at room temperature two hours. Drain and place in a kettle.
2. Cover with fresh water.  Add remaining salt and the pepper and cook, covered, until meat is very tender.
3. Add the remaining ingredients except the brandy. Bring to a boil and simmer until apples are tender. Cool.
4. Add brandy, reheat almost to the boiling point and pack into hot sterilized  jars. Seal. Cool and store in a cool, dry, dark place for at  least one month before using. Makes eight quarts.

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