Smoked venison backstrap.
Since we don't have a recipie forum I guess Ill post here.
Anyone that has ever had backstrap knows just how little connective tissue is in the meat. Because it is so lean many people just grill them like steaks, fast and hot, so they don't dry out and ruin.
Backstrap has about the same consistency as filet Mignon. It is in my opinion, the best cut of meat on the deer. And while they taste wonderful cooked hot and quick, I love to smoke meat.
The key to being able to smoke this lean cut of meat is brine. Brining your meat does several things to your meat. Yes you can moisten it with just water, but using salt helps a lot. As meat is fairly devoid of salt once it's been processed the salt in the brine is pulled into the meat by osmosis and pulls the water it is attached to along with it. This moistens your meat and allows you to cook it slowly without drying it out (when used in conjunction with what I will talk about).
Secondly, the introduction of salt into the meat causes a break down of certain proteins within the meat. This breakdown makes the extremely lean venison much more tender than it would be without this process. Yes, backstrap is very tender even without brine. So brining makes it "melt in your mouth tender".
There are many different types of brine out there. But Ive found that different mixes work well on different cuts of meat. For backstrap I use a completely different type of brine than I would for say, a brisket. I try to make my brines so they will capitalize on what the meat already has.
I take a half gallon of water and mix it with a half gallon of apple juice, warm it so it will accept all the different ingredients. Mix in 3/4 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup regular soy sauce (not the reduced sodium type), 1/2 cup molasses, 1/4 cup worchestershire sauce, 2 table spoons of pepper, 1 table spoon of rosemary, and 1/2 table spoon of either jalipinoe or habinaro seed (if you don't want an inherient kick forgo the hot peppers). Put your backstrap in a bowl that is large enough to accept it, as well as your brine without having any of your backstrap above the brine. Then let it stand for at least twelve hours in the refrigerator.
A lot of people will cut their backstrap into steaks after it has been brined. But I don't. I cook the entire thing whole.
Once it has been properly brined I set it on a strip of aluminum foil and lay thick cut bacon across the top of it. We harvest our own pigs, so Im able to cut my bacon thick enough to work the way I want it. But if you're using store bought bacon you may need to lay two or three strips for every one of mine.
Wrap the entire top of the backstrap. We cure our bacon with maple. It will compliment the flavor from the molasses and apple juice in the brine. The bacon, other than adding flavor, will add much needed moisture from the slow break down of fat.
You can use any hearty smoke you wish, but I like to use a mix of mesquite pecan and apple. I find that the wild flavor from the mix of these woods really compliments the natural wild flavor of the meat. Make sure you are using wood chunks not wood chips. Woodchips are fine when you are smoking meats that have a lot of connective tissue because the heat isn't as important. What happens with woodchips is, they heat and burn faster than chunks, and cause drastic increases in heat for brief times. Also as they burn up faster they force you to open your pit more often to add more. Which allows heat to escape. This constant up and down in temp can really screw up your meat. If you are using charcoal to cook soak your wood chunks in warm water for an hour and a half to two hours before you put them on the grill. Just like with any smoking, it makes your chunks last longer, and adds yet more moisture.
Heat your pit to 220 f. While your coals, or wood gets right set your backstrap out so that it can slowly go to room temp. This reduces the time your meat is on heat so you are less likely to dry it out.
Remember, we obviously be using indirect heat. If you are smoking on a normal webber pit just have your coals or wood on the sides, not directly under the meat.
Also remember that every time you open your pit after you start cooking you add about twenty minutes to your total cook time. And again the constant up and down with the heat can do bad things to your meat.
Depending on the size of your backstrap you are looking at a cook time of anywhere from two to five hours of cooking. What you are shooting for is an internal temp of 140 to 150 f. Once you get it to temp pull it from the pit and wrap in aluminum foil for a half hour to an hour.
I really like it with a side of wild rice and or sweet cooked carrots. Roasted redskin potatoes in olive oil and rosemary also go wonderfully with it.
Today Im doing smoked shoulder.
Did you get a deer? I got one yesterday morning. Gonna cut him up tomorrow. Thanks for the recipies.
Ive taken both of the does I could first bow season. I have a buck tag that Ive yet to fill. And could have the other day. A nice eight point walked by, but I don't hunt horns. I only get buck tags so I can take the ones with bad genetics out. Ive been seeing an old buck on my cameras the last few weeks that I am planing on harvesting so he can't breed anymore.
I have two any sex and one more doe tag for second bow season.
If given my druthers Id rather eat a doe than a buck. There is a definite difference in flavor.
What state are you in? In Maine we only get a (one) buck tag. You apply for a lottery to get a doe tag, which I didn't get this year.
One deer per season...
It used to be that way here. But it has become pretty political instead of science based.
Our deer population isn't hurting by any means. But you can essentially get as many tags as you wish if you are willing to pay, and get them soon enough.
There is a finite amount of tags issued. But if you know how much you are going to be able to hunt, you can get enough to keep you in venison year round.
I don't agree with how expensive they are for non land owners. I think your first any sex, doe and buck tag is thirty a piece, then every tag there after is fifteen. But land owners get them all for a dollar.
The state believes that they own the animals, and the people must pay to harvest them instead of how it is in many other states where the tags and license costs reflect only the administrative costs with issuing them.
When I lived in NC with my brother I was able to get six deer tags one black bear tag, and two turkey tags, and hunt all upland bird for thirty bucks. Here if I was not a land owner I would have to pay close to two hundred dollars to harvest the same.
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