When it comes to grilling, there is no shortage of choices of meats to cook over the coals. However, when you are a deer hunter, a big slab of venison will undoubtedly be your top choice. But when it comes to feeding a large group of people, thoughts usually drift away from those precious cuts to find something a little cheaper or more readily available than expensive steak or your prized venison.
Like many hunters out there, I process my own deer, which gives me the opportunity to do different things. One thing that I love to do is save the hind quarters whole. I do this for many reasons. The first reason is that if I ever need anything, I can pull an entire quarter and make what I want. I am not limited to what has already been processed. The second reason is the recipe I am about to share with you.
A few times a year, I get together with large groups of family and friends, sometimes for a birthday, a holiday, or, around here, for the Packer game. I save these entire quarters for these occasions. A hind quarter from an average Wisconsin adult whitetail will feed 15 people with this recipe, and there are usually leftovers. I call this a caveman roast because it reminds me of what you might see on a caveman’s campfire – no fancy cuts of meat, just a big deer leg hanging over the fire. So here is a step-by-step breakdown of how I make this household grilling favorite.
- 1 full hind quarter of venison
- 1/2 cup coarse ground kosher salt (do not use table salt for this!)
- 1/2 cup coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup Italian seasoning
That’s it. Not overly complicated. No fancy ingredients. No complicated steps. But there are a few steps in preparing. Let’s go through those now.
If your venison is frozen, be sure to remove it from the freezer 2–3 days before preparing. Place the thawed quarter on the cutting board. With a sharp, flexible knife (I like to use a good filet knife), cut off the “silver skin” from the meat. The silver skin is the thin membrane that surrounds the outside of the meat. Make an incision just through the membrane and slide your knife between it and the meat. Then carefully cut and pull the silver skin off. Try not to actually cut the meat, though this may take some time and practice to get good at.
Once the silver skin has been removed, it is time to season the meat. You should season it at least 6 hours in advance of grilling, but not more than 12. Seasonings should be placed on the meat in this order, and don’t mix them ahead of time. I have been using this rub for years, and there is a method to the madness. Take half a cup of kosher salt (you may need more depending on the size). Liberally coat the top half of the meat with half the salt and rub it vigorously into the meat until the meat is well coated. Don’t worry about oversalting your meat; it won’t penetrate much, and some will be lost during cooking. I always err on the side of more than less. Your meat will not be salty. Do the same next with half the black pepper, rubbing the pepper over the top of the salt rub. Repeat this with the paprika and finally the Italian seasoning. The salt goes on first to penetrate the meat; if you were to put it on any place other than first, it would not penetrate and season the meat. Most of it would be lost in the cooking process. I put the pepper on second so it gets rubbed farther into the meat as you apply the other ingredients. I put the paprika on next because it coats the meat easily. Once it has been thoroughly rubbed, flip the meat over and repeat using the other half of your seasonings.
Over high heat on your grill, place the entire quarter on the grill. Sear for 5–10 minutes, or until you start getting a really good color and a little char on the meat. Using tongs, turn the meat over and sear the other side as well. You want excellent grill marks and a little fire-kissed char on it. When the entire outside of the meat has been seared, lower the temperature on the grill to about 350 degrees and place the meat onto INDIRECT heat. Now is the time to slow everything down, so you don’t want flames to be in contact with the meat. God knows you don’t want to destroy your meat by overcooking. Cover your grill and leave it on indirect heat for 30–45 minutes. Turning occasionally prevents the meat from drying out or overcooking on one side. Using a probe thermometer, check the temperature in the middle of the thickest part of the roast near the bone. Keep cooking until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Remove the roast from the grill and immediately wrap it completely in aluminum foil. Allow the roast to rest in the foil for about 10–15 minutes. Unwrap the meat and let it rest for another couple of minutes before slicing.
When serving this, I usually do it one of two ways. One way is to carve it for your guests like prime rib. The other way, which I find easier and more enjoyable, is to put the roast onto a cutting board with a knife and allow my guests to carve off any chunk they want, big or small. That is the more casual way, and the way I do it the most. If I were preparing this for a special occasion, I might actually carve it.
Either way, this is a spectacular way to please the masses for your next backyard blowout. I hope you all get a chance to give this kind of grilling recipe a shot. It’s well worth the effort.
Happy grilling everyone!