Chef Jason Roberts

Cold Smoked Cervena Venison

Chef Jason

The following recipe is from a recent catering event I did for the New Zealand Winegrowers. I had never cold smoked before, and for a first attempt, I was pretty proud of myself!

After a quick YouTube tutorial from Chef Graham Brown, Executive Chef of Cervena New Zealand, I decided to attempt a cold smoke of my own.

Seeing as I was on the road and 10,000 miles from my own kitchen, I managed to convince my good friends at VB3 Restaurant & Bar in New Jersey to allow me into their kitchen to use their Bratt Pan - a big stainless steel cooking vessel that has a large counter-balanced lid and vent. It was the perfect make-shift cold smoker, so I lined it with aluminum foil in preparation for my cold smoking experience, just to make sure the smoke didn't stain the inside of the pan.

The real trick is to create smoke, but without the heat. You don't want to elevate the temperature and cook the meat (it will only toughen and dry out the final product) but more so impart the smokey characteristics of the herbs/spices being used.

My solution was to use a flame canister from a buffet chaffing dish placed under a slightly elevated disposable aluminum foil roasting tray to produce just enough heat to melt and caramelize the sugar in my spice mix.

Click here to watch a video from the guys at Cervena. It's great!

To give you another example of cold smoking using an aluminum Chinese steamer, you could also use your BBQ, just as long as you have a lid for it.

I chose fruitful spices including star anise, cinnamon, whole pimento and dried orange peel as I feel they offer an incredible balance to game meat (Cervana Venison isn't too gamey though; it's actually quite mild).

For a small amount of cold smoking, I recommend using your oven or BBQ. You'll need a tin or two of chafing fuel and a small aluminum foil roasting tray.

Let's Smoke!

1 kg / 2 lb Cervena Venison (I used the silverside) removed from its bag and allowed to air, refrigerated for several hours to remove any potential wet aging bag smell.


1 cup coarse salt

½ cup sugar

Zest of ½ an orange (organic) finely chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Mix the dry brine ingredients together, cover the venison on all sides and set to cure for four (4) hours in a cool, dry place (no need to refrigerate).

Remove meat from the somewhat wet brine, rinse under cold running water to remove any salt, then dab dry with paper towel to remove any moisture; set aside.


2 cinnamon sticks

5 star anise

1 tablespoon whole pimento

1 tablespoon dried orange peel

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup rice (uncooked)

½ cup black tea leaves

In a mortar and pestle, crack the larger spice (cinnamon, star anise, whole pimento, dried orange) place into a small foil roasting tray along with sugar, rice and tea leaves and give a good mix.

Place meat on a wire rack, allowing for smoke to penetrate all sides.

Set foil tray roughly an inch over the (chaffing fuel) flame.

Close oven door and smoke for 2 ½ hours.

Allow to chill well, before carving.

I served my smoked Cervena Venison with a puree of roasted eggplant and pear, with endive and fig balsamic. Truly heavenly!