Dating back to ancient times, venison is one high-end choice of meat that leaves memorable thoughts of taste and flavor with you for life. It is a lean meat, with an easy possibility of it tasting “gamey” if prepared wrong (Sidenote: the meat itself does not taste gamey at all if prepared right). However, if you treat it like the luxury meat that it is, you will be rewarded with an unbelievably tasty entrée from the wild. To get the best results out of your smoked venison meals, follow these easy steps and complete guide to smoking venison just right from pitmaster and author of BroBBQ.com, Jack Thompson!
1. Clean Off Excess Fat
You think you have solved the problem of dry venison, right? You will just keep the fat on. Problem solved. Unfortunately, while beef fat is great-tasting, venison fat is not. It keeps the consistency of candles and coats the inside of your mouth. Worst of all, excessive venison fat and silver skin is one of the main reasons people call it “gamey”. Just trim away the fat and silver skin so people can taste the meat and not the candle stuck to the side of it.
As a general rule of thumb, it is necessary to clean excess fat off most meats before smoking to avoid fire flare-ups.
2. Treat your Venison for Aroma and Juiciness
This calls for flavor and juiciness, and for venison, the go-to process is using a brine or marinade. While they are similar, a brine is made to keep a piece of meat juicy, while a marinade is used more so for tenderizing and flavor. Typically, marinades and brining solutions are reserved for the tougher cuts of meat associated with the front and hindquarters because we all know a backstrap doesn’t need any help.
For a brine, allow venison to soak for 14-18+ hours. You can find a good venison brine recipe from our friend and author of “Girl Hunter”, Georgia Pellegrini. Once the brine is prepared, pour it in a deep bowl and completely submerge the venison.
As far as marinades go, you can try some of our favorite wild game marinades or these household staples:
• Italian dressing
• Red wine
Allow for at least six hours of soaking and cook it as you will. Not only will you have some great moist meat, but it will have a great flavor too.
3. Treat the Meat for Taste
Once the brining process is done, remove the meat from the liquid, place it on a flat surface and pat it dry, and let it rest for at least three hours before smoking (marinated meat can be smoked immediately).
Proceed to spice up the meat with your favorite choice of spice, however mild.
A good smoking trick is to smoke meats with as little spice as possible so as to not alter the original tastes of the food.
4. Prep your Wood Chips
A super important factor to smoking venison is the wood chip selection and preparation! Select your preferred choice of flavored wood chips and soak them in water for at least 1 – 2 hours before cooking. Without much say, wood chips offer the meat incredible aromas proving that your venison has been well smoked.
5. Get the Smoker Ready
Scrape the grill grates clean, light a fire for indirect heat, and fill in your wood chips or pellets. Close the smoker lid and preheat the smoker to a temperature range of 250 oF to 300oF (see meat smoking guide below). You want to ensure you have thin white smoke coming from the smoker. If otherwise, adjust the flow of air into the smoker using the vents to keep the smoke levels light. (If you do not have a smoker, this comprehensive guide offers a great guide for getting one).
6. Smoke your Venison
Now it’s time for the magic show. Open the smoker lid and place the meat on the grates. Close the lid, smoke on indirect heat for 1 ½ hours per pound and/ or until the internal meat temperature has reached 140oF. Meanwhile, do a quick check for heat and wood chips in 45 minutes while you smoke. Once ready, rest the meat in foil for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Use BroBBQ’s guide about smoking temperatures and times to aid you with an excellent cook.