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Barbecue Braised Venison Neck Chop
RECIPE BY Danielle Prewett
PHOTOS BY John Dunaway
2 Neck Chops, approximately 3 to 4 inches thick, or 2 lbs. worth
1 Tablespoon Smoked Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Ancho Chili Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Whole Onion, cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Cups Venison Stock, plus more as needed
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Pat of Butter, for finishing
Oil, for cooking
Pickled Mustard Seeds and/or Cheesy Grits, for serving
The neck is tough, making it ideal for braising and slow cooking. In addition, the vertebrae have so many nooks and crannies, making it nearly impossible to trim without wasting meat, which is why I typically keep the bone intact.
My favorite way to process the neck is to cut it crosswise into four-inch-thick slices, the same way you would a shank for osso buco. This changes the texture of the meat when cooked, because you’ve cut against the grain. You no longer have long strands of meat, but rather small clusters that tear away on the fork between the dissolved connective tissue. The bonus is that the meat will cook much faster than if kept in a whole chunk.
Note: If the animal was harvested in an area where CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) is prevalent, the meat should be deboned.
1. Prepare the neck by using a sharp knife to cut through the meat into 3 to 4-inch chops. Use a saw to finish cutting through bone. It’s easiest to do this when the meat is nearly frozen.
2. Mix the smoked salt, pepper, ancho, paprika, garlic and onion powder together. Rub a generous amount of spices over the meat before cooking. For best results, do this step up to 24 hours in advance. Reserve what you do not use.
3. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
4. Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking. Pat excess liquid dry with paper towels. Add roughly a tablespoon of cooking oil to a large dutch oven. Brown the neck chops on each side over medium-high heat. Work in batches as necessary, removing the meat and setting it aside.
5. Add more oil to the pan if needed, and char the onion wedges on all sides. Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar and venison stock. Stir in the tomato paste and reserved spice blend. Mix them well, then return the meat back to the dutch oven. You want enough liquid to come halfway up the meat. Add more stock if needed.
6. Cover the dutch oven with a lid, and transfer to the oven to finish cooking.
7. Every couple of hours, you can baste the meat with the juices as needed. Cook for 4 to 6 hours or until the meat is fork-tender.
8. Transfer the meat to a serving platter. Use a fine-mesh strainer to remove solids from liquids. Return the liquids to the dutch oven, and add the brown sugar. Reduce over high heat if a richer sauce is desired. Finish with a pat of butter for gloss, and season to taste.
9. Serve the neck chop with the sauce, pickled mustard seeds, and cheesy grits.
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