Venison is a lean meat, so it needs a little boost in moisture from a brine. But venison is also a flavorful meat, so you don’t want to cover up that great, full flavor, which is why a simple brine is perfect for venison. This recipe increases moisture while only adding a small amount of flavor so as to not cover anything up too much. The juniper berry is one of the most complementing flavors I have found for venison. But you have to be careful with it, as it is strong. Only use a small number of berries at a time.
- 1-2 # deer loin
- ½ cup sea salt
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- 10 split juniper berries
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tray of ice cubes
A Brine for Venison Made with Juniper Berries, Crushed Red Pepper, Sea Salt, and Cane Sugar
- Pick a cut of venison to brine. These are venison loins. Or actually, it is one venison loin cut in two. The venison loin is one of the best cuts on a deer and should be treated as prime meat. But any cut of venison can benefit from a soak in brine, with the exception tenderloin. Don’t you dare brine that.
- Mix the dry ingredients together. Crush the juniper berries just enough so that they split open but don’t fall apart. I used a coarse sea salt here, but any salt would work. Also, I think cane sugar is superior to beet sugar, so I always use it.
- Add the boiling water. Boil the two cups of water and pour them over the mixture. The heat will make it easier for the solution to absorb the salt and sugar. Also, the heat will release some of the oils in the juniper berries and pepper flakes, which will boost the flavor of the brine.
- Then add the ice cubes to cool it down. One tray of ice cubes should be enough to cool the mixture to the point where you can add the meat without causing it to brown. Stir until all the ice cubes have dissolved.
- Put it in a bag in the fridge overnight. Put the meat in a large plastic bag and pour the brine over the top. Then put the bag of meat and brine on a tray in the fridge overnight. Remove the meat and pat it dry before you cook it.
Tips & Tricks
- Any large cut of venison will need to soak in the brine overnight. But smaller pieces may be good to go after 4‒6 hours.
- Don’t add too many flavors to the brine. All those flavors will mask the actual flavor of the meat. And juniper berries actually do that well enough on their own.
- Make sure your plastic bag is sealed before you toss it in the fridge. Even the name brand ones have been known to leak occasionally.
- When you cook your venison, make sure you don’t cook it past medium.