Are you ready for the Labor Day weekend? Is the bag packed and reservation made at the beach, or the lake house secure with no guests coming to spoil what may be the last quiet weekend you have before everything breaks loose with school, after-school activities and so forth?
Or maybe you have a long weekend planned at deer camp to put up stands, clear lanes, get stung by wasps and scream like a girl, put in a food plot and chill at night with a co’ beer or three.
Either way, Labor Day weekend is a great time for some slow-cooked venison. If you still have some in your freezer or, by chance, your season already is open (hello Florida and South Carolina!), then give this outstanding recipe from Weston a try this weekend.
Smoked Pulled Venison with Blueberry BBQ Sauce
3 lbs venison (**)
6 oz Fat Head’s Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale (***)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder
wood chips (peach, apple, or cherry are ideal)
Soak your wood chips (for at least a half hour), fill the smoker’s water bowl with hot water, and preheat your smoker to 200°F.
Rub the entire outside of the venison with a mixture of cinnamon and chili powder. Place it in an aluminum pan and pour the Bumble Berry into the bottom of the pan. Smoke 8-12 hours, until the venison falls apart and has a full, smoky flavor.
If you’re making your BBQ sauce at the same time as the venison (we did), simply place a pan of the sauce in the smoker 4 hours before the venison should be done. Two birds, one stone.
Once the venison is fork tender, pull it apart with two forks, until completely shredded. Pour the Blueberry BBQ Sauce over top, then sprinkle with blueberries and onions. Serve immediately, hot. Garnish with a dozen or so fresh blueberries and two chopped sprigs of green onion. Serves 6-8.
Blueberry Barbecue Sauce
2 cups blueberries
6 oz Fat Head’s Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale
¼ cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean – scrape seeds from pod, discard pod
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Use the Weston Roma Tomato Strainer with the Berry Screen attached to puree your fresh blueberries — no need to worry about leaves or stems, the strainer will push those through the waste chute. Run the blueberries through 3-4 times to get all of the juice out.Combine the blueberry puree with the remaining ingredients.
Smoke the blueberry BBQ sauce at 200°F for two hours, stirring every hour. If, after two hours, the sauce isn’t smoky enough for you, simply smoke longer. Also be sure to change out your wood chips every hour, or the sauce will taste ashy. Let cool, then pour into a jar with a canning funnel and store in the fridge, or use it right away. You could also can it for later use.
(** — You can use a lesser cut of venison for this recipe since you’re smoking low and slow. Shoulders and neck roasts are great for pulled venison dishes.)
(*** — If you can’t find Fat Head’s Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale, substitute a different blueberry flavored ale. Check with your local purveyor who carries craft beers.)