Several years back I made a commitment to live off the land and to quit buying meat from the grocery store. While my husband is very supportive of this decision and provides the bulk of our freezer, he isn’t ready to give up the deli-style sandwiches. Often times our lunch consists of leftovers but on occasion I get requests to make lunch meat to take to work.
I have developed a bit of a cooking routine and when Sunday rolls around I begin to meal plan for the week ahead. One of my favorite things to do is to take a large roast off a deer, sous-vide it until tender and slice it thin for about 4 days worth of lunch meat for sandwiches, wraps or salads. The recipe below makes a peppery venison roast that is best when sliced thin and served with a simple au jus on the side. Its perfect for building French Dip sandwiches with horseradish sauce, red onion, crisp lettuce and crusty bread. It’s a lunch your co-workers will certainly be jealous of.
Using a sous vide allows you to cook with consistency: perfectly cooked meat every time. Tough roasts off the hind leg benefit from low and slow cooking to tenderize the meat. Sealing it inside of a bag reserves all of the juices which create the flavorful base for the au jus. Remember that the larger your roast is the longer it will need to cook. A 2 lb. bottom round off a buck will need to cook in the water bath for about 14 hours. I basically wake up early Sunday and finish it late that night to have it ready by Monday morning. On the alternative you could start it late Saturday night and finish it Sunday afternoon for a delicious hot meal and save leftovers for lunch the next day. To really amp up the flavor for the jus you should take the time to double sear it. This means you sear the meat before and after the water bath. It’s an extra step that is totally worth the effort.
1 – 2lb. venison roast (top or bottom round)
2 T. peppercorns
2 t. smoked salt/sea salt
sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 shallot, sliced (or 1/4 small yellow onion)
2 T. butter, divided
Oil for cooking
1 C. venison/beef stock
1. Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking. Preheat a large pot or container full of water using your sous vide device to 130 degrees for medium-rare/medium or 135 for medium/medium-well.
2. In a mortar and pestle, smash the peppercorns and sea salt together to form a granular con-sistency. Sprinkle a portion of this mixture across top and bottom of meat, rubbing it in, you will only use 1/3 to 1/2 of it. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add 1 T. of butter and a small splash of cooking oil. Once hot, lay the venison roast down and sear on one side, flip, and brown on the other side. Remove and let it rest for a minute or two. Add a small splash of water or stock to the sauté pan and scrape up the fond at the bottom. Prepare a large vacuum seal bag or ziplock bag and place the roast inside along with a couple sprigs of rosemary, sliced shallot and smashed garlic cloves. Pour the little bit of juice and fond into the bag. If using a vacuum sealer, suck about 90% of the air out and seal shut (you don’t want to lose any of the juices inside). If using a ziplock bag simply squeeze as much air out as possible and zip shut.
3. Submerge the bag of meat completely inside the water, using clips to hold it to the side of the container. A 1 lb. roast will need to cook for 6-8 hours, a 2 lb. roast will need to cook for 12 – 14 hours. Set a timer and let it do its thing.
4. After the meat has finished cooking remove it from the water and let the entire bag rest on the counter for 30 minutes. Cut the bag open and pour the juices and aromatics into a measuring cup ( I got nearly 3/4 C.) and place the meat on a cutting board. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season again on both sides with the leftover peppercorn rub.
5. Now you will repeat the searing process. Again, heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add 1 T. of butter and a small splash of cooking oil. Once hot, lay the venison roast down and sear on one side, flip, and brown on the other side. Remove and let it rest. Deglaze the pan with the stock and add all the juices from the sous vide bag. Let the liquids softly boil and reduce down into almost half or for about 5 minutes. Taste and season if needed with salt. Turn the heat off and strain the liquids using a fine mesh strainer.
6. Slice the meat thinly and serve with the jus.