From the woods to the table, smoked venison backstraps are melt-in-your-mouth tender with a lick of smoke, bacon, and barbecue sauce. Wow!
Unfortunately, last year wasn’t a good year. David didn’t even fire his shotgun. He purchased the shotgun a couple of years ago and wasn’t even sure about how accurate it was. Nor did he know whether he wanted to keep the thing. He had mentioned that he was thinking about trading it in for another one he had his eye on.
My daddy was a great hunter. They even gave him “Buckman” as his CB handle. When I was little, he took me hunting one fall evening. I can remember riding with him down a long dirt path to a cut-over near our house just before dark. We got out of the truck and walked over to a pile of logs that the loggers had cleared.
Daddy and I climbed up a few of the logs and used them as a bench to sit on. We were to still hunt. You have to be very still when you are “still hunting.” I know this because my daddy kept telling me to “Be still!” and “Be quiet!”. That’s all I remember about that experience because I didn’t like “still hunting” very much. I never went still hunting with him anymore. I’m pretty sure it was a mutual decision.
Before now w
What is a Backstrap (Venison Loin)?
Like the wildest game, venison is lean meat high in protein with very little fat. If you are not familiar with venison, the deer backstrap is cut from the top of the deer from each side of the spine. This cut of meat is very similar to the loin section of beef or pork. Backstraps are not to be confused with tenderloins. Venison tenderloins are found on the inside of the deer’s abdominal cavity.
Is venison loin the same as tenderloin?
Backstraps and tenderloins are two different things, even though the two terms are interchanged in conversation about deer meat.
This arm-length cut is the backstrap, not the tenderloin. True venison tenderloins are found INSIDE the deer’s abdomen, and they are just as delicious.
What Wood Do You Use to Smoke Venison?
If you cannot find pecan, you could use hickory, maple, or oak instead. These types of wood are strong enough to stand up to game meats.
Ingredients Needed to Make This Recipe
- (2) 1 ½ to 2-pound venison backstraps
- Montreal Steak Seasoning or dry rub of choice
- thinly sliced bacon
- Charcoal Grill or Water Smoker
- large pecan wood chunks, dry (not soaked)
- Charcoal Chimney
- Instant Read Thermometer, such as Thermoworks
- Classic BBQ Sauce or BBQ Sauce of your choice + extra for serving
- Grilling brush
How To Cook Backstrap
You may have heard or tasted meat that is “gamey.” Many recommend brining venison to help tenderize it and eliminate some of the “gamey taste” without sacrificing flavor. Since venison is so lean, people often think that brining preserves the meat’s natural juices.
Backstraps are naturally tender, so you don’t have to marinate or brine them. Many often use apple cider vinegar as part of the marinade to get rid of the gamey taste. David opted not to brine them, nor did he prepare a marinade for them. However, he took some extra time to remove the silver skin and sinew.
The silver skin and sinew are where a lot of the gamey flavor comes from. Properly trimmed venison should never have a “wild taste,” so always trim the meat.
You may still choose to brine or marinate, which is perfectly fine.
Trim The Meat and Season the Meat
Trim the backstraps removing as much silver skin and sinew as possible. Rinse the backstraps under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
For our experiment, we sprinkled the steak seasoning directly on one of the backstraps, and for the second, we wrapped it in bacon and sprinkled the steak seasoning onto the bacon.
Once the meat is seasoned, and the bacon is wrapped around the backstraps, the meat is ready for the smoker.
Fire up the Grill or Smoker
Preheat the grill to 275 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)
Smoke the Backstraps
When the coals are ready to cook, place the backstraps on the hot grate on the cool side of the opposite side of the coals, toss a large chunk of the pecan wood onto the coals, and cover the grill.
Sauce the Smoked Venison Backstraps
About three-quarters of the way through, when the backstraps reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees, brush on some barbecue sauce and continue cooking until the internal reaches 130 to 150 degrees F.
As you may know, I’m not usually a barbecue sauce-slinging kind of girl (I know… I’m “special”). I wasn’t sure about basting the barbecue sauce on during the smoke, but after tasting it, I cannot believe I am saying this, but the barbecue sauce sent these smoked venison backstraps over the top, so sauce these bad boys up!
Test for Doneness
David pulled the backstraps off the grill at the lower end of the range. The meat was a little rare for our taste, so we recommend cooking it until it is at the higher end at about 150 degrees.
Rest, Carve and Enjoy the Smoked Venison Backstraps
When the meat reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker. Allow the backstraps to rest at least 10 to 20 minutes before cutting. The bacon should be browned and fully cooked on the outside, and the inside of the meat should be somewhat firm to touch and pink. Slice into medallions and serve with extra sauce if desired!
Crisp Up the Bacon
At the end of the cook, if the bacon isn’t crispy enough, you could stoke up the fire and sear it quickly before taking the meat up to rest. You may even want to use a cast-iron pan to do this instead.
What Other Seasonings Are Good on Vension?
Blends of spices that contain rosemary, sage, savory, onion powder, garlic powder, and sweet marjoram all pair well with venison other wild game.
You will never go wrong with a simple mixture of equal parts black pepper, salt, and garlic powder on any meat you throw on the grill.
Do I Need a Binder for the Rub to Adhere?
If the seasoning doesn’t want to adhere to the meat, use a binder to help it stick. Binders to consider Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, soy sauce, or vegetable oil.
The look on his face says it all!
Good luck to all you hunters out there. Be safe!
Smoked Venison Backstraps Wrapped in Bacon
- Pecan Wood Chunks
- Trim the backstraps removing as much of the silver skin and sinew as possible. Rinse the backstraps under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle the steak seasoning directly on the backstraps being sure not to add too much. A nice light coating works best. Wrap each backstrap in bacon. Tuck the ends of the bacon underneath itself and secure with toothpicks if needed.
- Set up the smoker or grill for indirect cooking. Preheat the grill to 275 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)
- When the coals are ready to cook, place the backstraps on the hot grate on the cool side of the opposite side of the coals, toss a large chunk of the pecan wood onto the coals and cover the grill.
- Bring the temperature back up to 275 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature. Allow the meat to cook 1 to 1 ½ hours, but smoke the backstraps with smoke for no more than 45 minutes.
- Monitor the temperature of the meat, but also check the temperature of the smoker. Check every 30 minutes or so to keep the temperature between 250 and 300 degrees F. Make adjustments with the vents and add more coals as necessary.
- When the backstraps reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees, brush on some barbecue sauce and continue cooking until the internal temp reaches 130 to 150 degrees F.
- Remove it from the smoker. Allow the backstraps to rest at least 10 to 20 minutes before cutting. The bacon should be browned and fully cooked the outside and the inside of the meat should be somewhat firm to touch and light pink.
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