How to Cook Javelina Easily
Believe it or not, properly cooked Javelina meat can taste better than pork. I know that this statement might have triggered some dirty looks or laughs. However, I am dead serious. So, give some rest to those rolling eyes. Over the years, I have hunted many of these rascals. So, I am talking from experience. I still remember the razor sharp blades of the 90-pound monster that I brought home from my last hunting endeavor. It was a female, and it tasted better than the males that I had tried in the past. Yes, it tasted awesome — but you have to cook it the right way. Guys, it’s your lucky day today. Here’s a tried and tested cooking method for you.
Brining the Javelina Meat
To begin with, start with the ceremonious brining. Just like any other meat, the road to a good Javelina meat starts with brining. So, don’t take a wrong turn over here. Most Javelina meat requires brining to enhance its taste and flavor. Here’s what you would need for brining—a gallon of water, a cup of table salt, ½ cup of sugar and flavoring such as peppercorns, garlic, onions, herbs, and spices. The optimum soaking period is around 12-24 hours. You will have to store the meat in the refrigerator for the given duration. You can get away by soaking the meat overnight if you are planning to have only a small portion of the meat.
Getting the Meat Ready
Once the waiting period is over, rinse the meat in cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Before smoking, trim the meat and add desired spices or rubs to the meat. Nothing revolutionary, isn’t it? Well, we are getting closer to the fool proof way of making Javelina meat edible. So far, we are done with the dressing part. Now, we can finally cook them. Let me assure you that the end result won’t taste like you licked your dog’s butt. So, be prepared to dump the age-old stigma with Javelina. And, don’t just shoot them for fun, when you can actually enjoy their meat. Sure, they do smell bad, but it’s not a big deal.
Over the years, I have realized that the success with Javelina also depends on where the animal came from. Was it a well-fed farm animal or a wild beast? Remember, a bad chef can make a great rib taste bad. On the other hand, a good chef can make even a shoe taste good. To increase my success ratio, I do a few things on a regular basis. Here’s what I generally do to enhance the flavor of the meat before actually smoking it. It’s an extra step that I encourage you to take to lock all the moisture to make the meat juicier and tastier. You will never have to throw any out. The extra steps include:
Barding is not an age-old secret. In fact, you will find a lot of information about it out there in the open. Basically, it’s a process of covering the meat with bacon or some other fat while it cooks. It prevents the meat from drying. As a result, the meat gets more delicate and moist. It also helps to retain the shape of the meat. Better yet, it prevents the lean cut of meat from overcooking, while imparting flavors at the same time. Believe it or not, barding could prove to be the game changer over here. It can offer you a pleasant contrast of texture and flavor in every bite.
To keep oxygen away from the meat, it’s important to keep the meat sealed. It prevents the moisture from escaping into thin air. Plastic wraps can do the trick over here. The thicker, the better! Also, you should make sure that the foil is large enough to cover the ends as well. One’s best bet would be to fold the ends tightly against the meat for a tight wrap. Remember, air is your enemy over here. So, remove as much air as much as possible. One can also seal the edges with a tape. Even a hurricane should not deter the wrap. If the meat in use is not of good quality, one may choose to double wrap the meat.
The basting process involves coating the meat with some liquid of your choice. It helps with the moisture and flavor of the meat. Basically, you will be moistening the surface of the meat with softened butter, pan drippings, or any other liquid. If you are basting liquids with sugar, make sure to add it only during the last 15 minutes to prevent the sugar from burning. You know how burnt stuff taste right? Keep in mind basting may slow down the cooking process because you will be opening the hood of the smoker for basting, which will lower the temperature. As a result, it will slow down the cooking a tad bit. A careful cook can achieve great results with basting. Some chefs choose to ignore it. As a result, they miss out on a lot of taste and flavor.
4. The Final Step
Get the smoker ready as usual. Remember, you will have to slow cook the meat over here. For best results, have a temperature around 200 F to 225 F for slow cooking. Once the smoker attains an internal temperature of 180 F, you may want it to keep it there for at least an hour. The cooking duration would vary depending on the thickness of the meat. Practically speaking, give around 1.5 -2 hours for each pound of meat. Folks out there can also smoke the meat at a much lower temperature, but this will have an impact on the cooking time. At a lower temperature, expect the meat to spend more time under the hood. All things considered, it can be a bit tricky to cook Javelina meat, but they can come out great. Follow the pointers given above to prep and cook a Javelina so that you can cherish every bite of the meat. Happy cooking!