Smokey Grilled Wild Game Backstrap
Wild game is the leanest meat you will ever cook with and this means, on the grill, it can quickly become the driest meat you will ever eat. Not treating wild game like domesticated beef or pork is the first step to success. Start out with a tenderizing rub or marinade and keep an internal thermometer on hand. Backstrap doesn’t need a lot of cooking and should be enjoyed rare to medium rare so get it off the heat once it reaches 140º. With quick cooking times, smokey flavor may be hard to impart without a smoke device. This is where the Smokehouse Smoker Box comes in to surround your grilled meats with wonderful smokey flavors. It’s easy to use, small, portable and can produce smoke for up to 2 hours.
From deer to elk to bear to boar, this flavorful marinade will tame any wild game. We’ve even used it on upland birds and waterfowl. Just keep in mind cook time when grilling and don’t let your game overcook. This recipe will accommodate up to 2 pounds of venison.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rum or beer
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/4 cup lemon juice
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a sealable container or plastic bag. Add sliced game and let marinate 2-24 hours in the refrigerator or cooler. Bring meat to room temperature before grilling (approximately 30 minutes). Load Smokehouse Smoker Box with pellet flavor of choice. Once the box is smoking, move to the indirect side of the grill and heat up the opposite side of the grill, this will be your cooking side. Place backstrap on a well-lubricated, hot grill. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to keep the smoke inside. Cook backstrap 3-5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 140º. Turn off heat and allow the backstrap to rest 10 minutes with the Smokehouse Smoker Box still smoking.
Smokey Venison Rub
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste (during or after grilling)
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Rub into all sides of backstrap and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling. Load Smokehouse Smoker Box with pellet flavor of choice. Once the box is smoking, move to the indirect side of the grill and heat up the opposite side of the grill, this will be your cooking side. Place backstrap on a well-lubricated, hot grill. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to keep the smoke inside. Cook backstrap 3-5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 140º. Turn off heat and allow the backstrap to rest 10 minutes with the Smokehouse Smoker Box still smoking.
Tips for Grilling Game
- For steaks, slice meat thinly (1/2") across the grain if grilling backstrap or tenderloin. Pound and/or tenderize other meat cuts into steak size. For whole backstrap or tenderloins, simply cut to a managable size and trim off any silverskin.
- Marinate meat in an oil based marinade. One of the most convenient is Italian Dressing (do not use low- or no-fat dressings).
- Keep salt to a minimum as it can make meat tough. Try a sprinkling of sea salt while meat is grilling or sprinkle on a finishing salt before serving.
- Keep grates well lubricated. Use an oil soaked paper towel held by tongs to wipe grates down right before placing the meat on them.
- Let meat reach room temperature before grilling. Cold meat sticks to grill grates and contracts and becomes tough.
- Grill hot and fast. Get grill temperature to at least 400º grill first side only until grill marks appear and then turn meat with tongs. By the time the last of the meat is flipped, the first ones you flipped will be done. For backstrap, move the meat as needed to keep heat even.
- Do not overcook. It is safe to eat most red meat rare with bear, boar and cougar being the exception. Cook backstrap to an internal temperature of 140º.
Article and photos by Tiffany Haugen. For a copy of Tiffany’s book, Grill It! Plank It! Wrap It! Smoke It!, go to www.tiffanyhaugen.com.