Substitute Breakfast Ham With Your Own Cured Smoked Venison

Ken Joens shares his technique to make cured smoked venison taste like breakfast ham.

| November/December 1975

Like many homesteaders, we try to live as self-sufficiently as possible without relying on the chemical and plastic crutches of contemporary society. We still have several obstacles to overcome, of course, but we're confident that we can achieve our goal here on this 70-acre Texas homestead . . . and we're having a good time trying.

One particular solution we've worked out to solve a minor problem has generated considerable interest among our neighbors . . . so I thought I'd pass the idea along for possible use by MOTHER's readers.

Making Your Own Cured Smoked Venison Hams

The original hang-up grew out of our conviction that animal fat is not conducive to the good health of human beings. Consequently our chickens, ducks, and guineas range freely over our pasture — and our neighbor's! — thereby providing us with lean meat and (when we can find them) naturally fertile eggs. This was absolutely great . . . except that it left our breakfasts lacking the traditional ham or bacon entree which we'd relished before setting up our homestead. This "shortage" has now been filled, however, by our discovery of how to make "smoked ham" from — are you ready for this? — venison!

The breakthrough on the breakfast front occurred about two years ago, when we heard that a market about 150 miles away had developed a process for making delicious ham from naturally lean deer meat (which is a basic part of our diet) - a cured smoked venison ham. "Just what we need," I thought, and had a hindquarter of venison delivered to the firm for processing.

Ken's firebox and smoker, linked by the pipe at the left.

We waited eagerly to sample our "ham", and when it arrived three weeks later we were more than pleased. The venison had indeed been transformed into a ham-like delicacy . . . ham-like, but far superior to the real thing. The meat resembled Canadian bacon in texture (because of the absence of fat), and boasted a flavor that would have fooled the majority of hard-core pork eaters. Perhaps my enthusiasm was due in part to the fact that I hadn't tasted a ham sandwich for two years. Nevertheless, I immediately decided that I'd learn to make porkless ham a regular addition to our breakfast table.

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