Braising, Especially a Flavored Braise, is a Valuable Technique for Hard Working, Tougher Cuts of Meat such as the Shoulder.
Coffee Braised Venison Shoulder with Blackberry Jus
Recipes > Dinner > Meat Dishes > Coffee Braised Venison Shoulder with Blackberry Jus

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Recipe Checklist:
  • 2 lbs. Venison Shoulder Roast
  • 2 Medium Onions, (Peeled & Quartered)
  • 1 Head of Garlic ( Peeled & Minced)
  • 6-8 Sprigs Thyme, (Minced)
  • 4 C of Red Wine
  • 1 C of Water
  • ½ Cup of Whole Espresso Beans
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
Tools & Equipment
  • Cutting Board
  • Chefs Knife
  • Sauce Pan
  • Saute Pan
  • Roasting Pan
  • Measuring Cup
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Whisk
Estimated Time
2 Hours
Serves 6-8
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 Our Coffee-Braised Venison Shoulder is based on a favorite dish of our friend Chef Juan Romero, of Duo Bistro in Kingston, New York. 

He serves it with Wilted Kale and Toasted Parsnip Smash both of which are also found in the Smart Kitchen Recipe Bank. We have adapted his recipe slightly by adding a quick Sear, before putting the Venison in the oven to Braise. The Shoulder, like the Rump or Round, is a piece of Meat from an area of tougher active muscles, which need cooking heat, and at times Tenderizing to make great eating, which is why a Low and Slow Braise works so well. If you are fresh out of Venison Shoulder, a larger portion cut of the Chuck can also work well with this recipe. 

Start with roughly 2 pounds of Venison Shoulder. Both farm-raised Red Deer and Wild Harvested deer will work, though the farm-raised meat will be milder in flavor and maybe better suited to pick up the complexity of the Spices and espresso.  On the other hand, those who wish to mask the gamier taste of wild venison may appreciate the cover offered by intense flavor of the espresso.

The shoulder should be De-Boned and cut into 3” by 3” chunks (7.62 CM by 7.62 CM). If purchasing your Venison, the butcher should be able to de-bone your shoulder. If you have your wild harvested Venison dressed, again the butcher should be able to de-bone your shoulder. If you personally harvested your Venison, you are on your own, until we get out of the office and into the mountains to rope a deer (just kidding) and film our own Breaking Down a Deer Instructional Video. In the meantime there are some good sites on the Internet for butchering game in the meantime.

To begin the preparation, pre-heat your oven to 325° F (163° C). If you have not already done so, cut the Venison Shoulder into 3” by 3” chunks and Temper them. Sear the chunks in a Skillet, Sauté Pan, or oven-safe Roasting Pan on all 6 sides (top, bottom, left, right, front, back).

Using High Heat, each side should take about 3 to 4 minutes to Sear. If your cooking vessel is large enough, you can Sear a number of the chunks at one time. Just be careful to organize your cuts and to keep close track of each piece so that you know where each cut is in the Searing process at all times. Also, if working with a number of chunks at one time, be careful not to overcrowd the pan because as Teaching Chef instructs in our Sautéing Exercise, overcrowding will impede the Searing and Browning process. 

Once the chunks are Seared, transfer them with Tongs into an Oven-Safe Dish or Roasting Pan, suitable for Braising. Of course, if you Seared the Venison in an oven-safe Roasting Pan you can skip the transfer, unless your Roasting Pan isn’t suitable for Braising. At this point Chef, you will have to sort it out and we will just refer to pot/pan/dish as the Braising Vessel going forward.

Add the Onions, Garlic, Thyme and Espresso Beans to the Braising Vessel.

Once the ingredients are in the Braising Vessel, add in some diluted Red Wine, a mixture of 4 parts Red Wine and 1 part water, to the ingredients already in the oven-safe pot/pan/dish.

This will be your Braising Liquid and we don’t have a specific volume measurement to use because, we don’t know the exact volume of your Braising Vessel. With our measurements, we are guessing for an average sized pot/pan/dish. The idea is to add enough diluted Red Wine Water that you cover about ⅔ of the height of your ingredients with Braising Liquid per the definition of Braising, as opposed to Stewing.

With the Braising Liquid added and the ingredients inside, cover the Braising Vessel and put it into the oven.

Braise the Venison Shoulder at 325° F (163° C) until the meat is almost falling apart tender, depending on your oven and vessel it should take about three to three and a half hours.

While the Venison Braises, you will have time to make Chef Juan’s Wilted Kale and Toasted Parsnip Smash, if you choose so and have the oven space, to accompany the Coffee Braised Venison Shoulder. If you don’t plan to make these accompaniments, just skim down below where we pull the Venison Shoulder from the oven. 

Organization for Cooking the Toasted Parsnip Smash and Wilted Kale as Side Dishes

Our organization for creating the whole meal together, after the Venison is Braising, would be to get the Parsnips Peeled for the Toasted Parsnip Smash before Rubbing them with Oil and placing them into the Oven to Roast.

If you have two ovens, you could use the second to Roast the Parsnips more quickly at a higher temperature, or you can just stick them into the first oven, on a thin baking tray, economizing by using the Convection heat of the Braise to cook two dishes at once, piggy backing the energy for one dish for free.

You will have plenty of time and heat because the Parsnips will only need an hour (roughly) Roasting at 325° F (163° C), to Brown on one side, which is when you should pull them from the oven with Oven Mitts. Then follow the rest of the instructions in the Toasted Parsnip Smash recipe.  Completing the smashing process should only take you about 10 to 15 minutes maximum. Hold the Parsnips Warm for Service.

With the Parsnips completed, check in on your Braising Venison, to see if it is getting tender. After the quick check you can begin on the Wilted Kale, if you have chosen to prepare it. The whole process for the Kale should only take another 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your preparation skills, speed, oven, etc.  Optimally, you should wait until closer to when the Braising Venison is due to come out of the oven, if you can time it properly. The fresher the Wilted Kale can be, the better your meal will be, because the Kale will not Hold as well as the Parsnips and can get mushy.

Continuing with the Coffee-Braised Venison Shoulder

 When the Braising Venison Shoulder is “Fork Tender” pull the Braising Vessel from the oven with Oven Mitts and shut off the oven. Remove the Venison from the Braising Vessel with Tongs and let it rest on a Cutting Board or other plate/platter for 5 to 10 minutes at least.

Carefully, using Oven Mitts, Strain the Braising Liquid into a Sauce Pan, suitable for making a Reduction on the stove top. Here again, if your Braising Vessel is also suitable for a Reduction on the stove top, you can pour the Braising Liquid, temporarily, into a Mixing Bowl, to hold it, before Straining it back into your original Braising Vessel.

Re-using the same Braising Vessel is optimal because of the flavors retained from the Braise but not everyone has the same depth of cookware to draw upon. Ultimately, the idea is to get the Braising Liquid Strained and back onto the stove top as quickly as, safely, possible so it can be Reduced to make the Blackberry Jus.

Reduce the Strained Braising Liquid by ¾, until it is thick, and then add in the pint of Blackberries. Bring the new mixture to a Boil then lower the heat to a Simmer and let it break down the Blackberries and get thicker for 8 to 10 minutes before Seasoning it to taste with Salt & Pepper. You can speed up this process minimally by crushing and/or Whisking the Simmering Blackberries.

This whole Blackberry Jus Reduction phase should take about 10 minutes, depending on your stove and pot. The Blackberry Jus reduction time should match up nicely with the resting time needed for the Coffee-Braised Venison Shoulder.

When the Blackberry Jus is ready, Carve your chunks of Coffee-Braised Venison Shoulder into individual Portion Cuts, if desired, then Plate, sauce and serve.

If you also prepared the Toasted Parsnip Smash and Wilted Kale, you can Plate the smashed Parsnips as a bed for the Venison and then sauce both together with the Blackberry Jus. The Wilted Kale can be served on the side, or on a separate plate as a Side Dish. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with your family and guests.

 For larger or smaller quantities of Venison Shoulder, the recipe can be scaled up or down by using the following ingredients for each pound of Venison:

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

2-4 whole peeled garlic cloves

2 Thyme sprigs

¼ cup espresso beans (whole)

Salt & Pepper to Taste