When smoking venison and most wild game, I prefer to brine the meat instead of marinating it. Brine penetrates deeper into the meat and the salt prevents the fibers from tightening up, keeping moisture and natural juices inside.
Take pride and some extra time to make sure all the silver skin and tough pieces are trimmed off. No one especially non-hunters like to chew on a tough old dried up piece of meat. You spent hours in the field to harvest that buck, now is the time to make it the best it can be on the table.
Starting with a basic brine of 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of brown sugar to 2 quarts of water mixed into a sauce pan.
Bring this mixture to a boil stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar and then remove from the heat.
Next add to this brine any flavoring you like. I added 4 garlic cloves chopped up, 2 tablespoons of rosemary and 2 tablespoons of oregano and let the brine steep releasing flavors and then cooled in the fridge.
Once the brine has cooled, combine the brine and back straps in a non-reactive container large enough to submerge the meat, cover and let stand in the fridge from 6 to 12 hours.
There are many different kinds of wood that can be used in the smoking process, depending on your taste or region. Today I used maple and apple wood chips in a 2 quart pitcher that had hot tap water added; to moisten the chips and make them smoke better when added to the fire box of the smoker (the wood chips will burn slower making more smoke this way).
Prepare the smoker by lining the bottom of the cooking chamber with tin foil, it makes cleaning up the smoker easier for the next time you use it. On top of the tin foil are two tin drip trays that are filled with the left over by product water that the wood chips where soaked with. This water aids in the cooking of the meat by creating some steam which also keeps the meat from drying out.
Position the meat with the thickest end towards the heat source over the drip trays and add bacon to the top of the rolled back straps to help keep the venison extra moist. Every time we use the smoker we also add 2-4 heads of garlic to the least heat side of the grill.
Smoked garlic is perfect to use in sauces and fresh homemade hummus. Throughout the entire smoking process every hour or as needed add another hand full of the wet wood chips to the coals to keep a good even flow of smoke around the meat.
The recommended safe cooking temp for venison and most large game animals is 145 degrees F. I like to error on the side of caution when smoking because the temperature can easily fluctuate during the cooking time due to opening and closing the fire box adding more charcoal and wood.
I prefer to have the internal temp range of 150 – 155 F which still produces a pink center. When done remove form the grill and let the meat sit for 10 minutes before carving, I know it’s hard to wait but trust me it’s worth it!
Letting the meat stand after removing from the grill keeps the juices from running out and allows the fibers to relax making room for the juice re-absorbed into the outer layers.
Cut off the cooking string that held the loin together. Slice the tender loin with a fancy carving knife and your set for some fine dining. These two loins where sliced and used on sandwiches, in pitas with sautéed onions and cheese, on top of a fresh salad and eaten as finger food too!
If you haven’t yet, try slow smoking you won’t be disappointed.