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whole venison shoulder

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I have been given a rather large whole venison shoulder that I plan to cook for thanksgiving. The plan is to braise. However, I am dumbfounded as to how to brown the beat first, as the cut is so large. Also, I have been told that is is a good idea to soak the venison overnight in milk, however this spoils my red wine marinade idea. Any suggestions? Could I brown it on the grill over high heat, then braise? And what is the deal with the milk. Just sounds plain odd to me. Thanks!

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  1. You could brown it with a blowtorch, probably the best bet. Might be able to find a youtube video or similar of someone else browning meat with a torch to get an idea of how to tackle it.

    1. A venison shoulder is not the prime piece of venison. I don't think it's a good idea for Thanksgiving. I would go with a rib eye roast smoked on a charcoal grill. A venison shoulder should be deboned and all the gristle removed from the meat and cut it in small portions then you could fry it which is fantastic or use it in a stew. Venison is tough unless you remove all the white muscles from the piece of meat. A shoulder is hard to do. Soaking venison in milk can be a good idea. But not a whole shoulder. You are wasting your time. The piece is too tough. You can take the tenderloin, soak it in milk and then roll it in flour and fry it. You will have something then. Or you could smoke the tenderloin on the grill too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Littleman

        I agree -- it is not really a good cut to try to cook whole. It will be on the tough side. The shoulder is good for stew meat, some of it might be tender enough for a stir-fry, and of course it's great for ground meat for burgers, sausage, chili, pasta sauce, meatloaf, or meatballs. I believe Littleman is talking about tendon (white muscle?) and it's true, there will be some gristly pieces of tendon in there. BUT I don't want this to make you think that it's not terrific meat -- it is, it will be delicious and very lean, but not a prime cut to cook whole. There are indeed tender cuts of venison, but shoulder isn't it.

      2. My 2 cents, only.

        I've cooked a lot of game meat, but I'm not sure that for a first effort, which it seems you're talking about, I'd try to braise a whole shoulder and serve it to a bunch of folks as the main on Thanksgiving. One of the problems you have is (presumably) not knowing how old the deer was, what it was eating, how long it was hung, etc., all of which factor hugely into the quality of what it is, exactly, you were generously gifted. Also, it's pretty unwieldy, as you've implied.

        I'll respectfully disagree with the notion that shoulder is 2nd rate: 2 days ago, I fried up a little piece of shoulder from an alfalfa-fed whitetail to rare. Yum.

        That said, what I'd do if you want to move forward is forget about the milk and the red wine marinade (they won't do anything except waste milk and wine), separate the shoulder into primals, chunk the larger pieces, s&p them for a night or 2, then brown well in rendered bacon/salt pork fat, and proceed as you would for any other braise (aromatics, etc., toss in your lardons). I'll probably be excoriated for this but use white wine, not red; it lightens things admirably. Timing can be tricky; pay attention; you can move from deliciously unctuous to shitty, inedible dry very quickly. Bump in a little acid at the end to brighten, plenty of parsley.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Spot

          I'm confused: if we're talking wild deer, how do you know what it ate with such certainty?

          I agree that in some instances the shoulder meat can be fine for plain eating (especially if the animal was very young), but, generally speaking, it isn't (to me, anyway) a braise-for-Thanksgiving cut, and certainly not whole, since there's a lot of tendon and such.

          If you're willing to carefully cut it up you may well find chunks you can just cook and eat plain.

          It also depends on what you're used to eating!

        2. thanks for all the info. I think I will hold off on the thanksgiving dealio. I have not even looked at the meat since I got it, was store in the freezer in white paper. I think what I may do is when I have a few days, thaw it, and see what I have, then determine it from there. Thanks for all the advice, m
          ore reccs indeed are welcome.