This deer “prosciutto” comes from a poor creature of our Lord, mercilessly killed by an arrow of a good friend, Michael.
I’ve known Michael through one of my day-jobs for around 9 years. Besides enjoying our mediocre skills in chess, we share similar personalities, general outlook at life, political inclinations, interests, fascination with history, and even more: few years ago, Michael married a lady with an Ukrainian blood in her veins. That’s the stuff – even when it is substantially diluted by Irish or German – never goes away…Ukrainian woman is an Ukrainian women, doesn’t matter how many generations ago her ancestors came from the boat…
Michael and I were both born in 1976. As kids, we’d both admired Reagan and wrote letters to the President. It’s just I happened to be living in USSR at that time…Luckily, before I had a chance to put my letter into the mail, a clever patriotic girl with whom I’ve shared a bench at school got my opus from the briefcase of this 3rd grade enemy of the people and passed it to the teacher. To even greater luck, the teacher gave the letter – with statements of what I’ve learned from “Voice of America” and “Radio Free Europe” — to my father. As a result, my behind became the honored place of reception – 20 of them, to be exact — for my dad’s leather belt. After all, Fedor Ivanovich Dezhnyuk did not have much desire to make another trip – all expenses paid by the government – beyond the Ural mountings for a vacation in the vastness and beauty of the Siberian landscape. He already spent 5 years there in the soviet resort by the charming name GULAG. But that’s another story…
Back to the deer.. Michael comes from the line of the majority hunters in this country to whom we’re indebted for the flourishing wildlife here. No one respects the animals and cares about the conservation more than these guys and gals. So, knowing that I do not waste any part of the animal ( I still have frozen stock from this deer’s bones in my freezer), Michael generously brings me a deer or two each season.
As for this 3.9kg deer leg:
On 3.9kg of leg: 2.75% sea salt; 0.25% cure#2; 0.5% Poivre du Sichuan; 0.05% cardamom; 0.7% BP; 0.2% juniper; 0.1% cayenne. One month in fridge under vacuum. Then – “curing chamber” for six month. After few month of dry-curing, I cold-smoked it for few days together with sausages I was making at that time. After the curing was done, the leg went to vacuum for two weeks with a splash of chardonnay.
Results: much softer than my previous attempts to dry-cure deer leg. Spices are not noticeable. Very even, mature and surprisingly soft product. It has that “deepness” that I do not know how to describe. The animal was young; hence, there is no hints of “venison” smell\taste. In short, results are much, much better than I’ve expected.