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SMOKED VENISON BACKSTRAP

Updated: May 28

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Smoked Venison Backstrap has been one of my favorite venison recipes for years and with good reason. It's very easy to make, always a crowd favorite, and can be served in multiple ways at any time of the year. 

Smoked Venison Backstrap Recipe
Photo By Larry White


This version is a little different than your standard smoked venison loin by the fact that it's wet brined before smoking. The reasoning for this wet brine is because wild venison is a lean meat, and when left out at room temperature for a couple hours, it tends to dry out a bit.


By brining the meat before smoking, not only does it retain more moisture in the meat, but it's also safer to leave out on the table for a few hours during dinner parties due to the fact that the brine contains pink salt (which is optional).


This brine utilizes flavorful yet simple ingredients and with a technique that is similar to Canadian bacon, but with a more flavorful and unique flavor profile. So what you get is a vibrantly red, smoky, salty and herb-forward venison loin with a juicy tender texture. It also happens to pair well with just about anything you can throw at it.  


Myths About Venison Backstrap

Let's clear up a popular misconception that was probably brought upon us by a whitetail deer hunter in regards to venison backstraps (aka venison loins). They are not the "filet mignon" of a deer. The backstraps are located on the top of a deer (also elk, moose and antelope) on either side of the spinal column.


They are not to be confused with the smaller in size "venison tenderloins", which are the actual filet mignon or "inner loin". The tenderloins are located beneath the ribs nettled up against the backbone. I think these two get innocently confused for one another due to the fact that a large deer backstrap can sometimes resemble that of a beef tenderloin in regards to its size.


First Things First: Trim and Brine

You want to ensure that you remove all of the silver skin that is located on the surface of the backstrap before brining and smoking. Leaving the silver skin on the meat will rob you of some of the smoky goodness which will be blocked by said silver skin. This form of connective tissue is also very tough and you surely do not want to eat this, or you'll be chewing until your jaw hurts. Although you could save it for your stock pot if you're motivated enough. Silver skin does add great body to homemade venison stock.


When it comes to brining, this recipe uses an optional ingredient called pink curing salt, which also goes by the names TCM, Instacure # 1, and Prague Powder 1. It is there for three main reasons which are to add color, to add a little tanginess to the flavor profile, and to help prevent any foodborne illnesses, which have a very small chance of occurring due to the fact that we're smoking at a relatively low temperature. I've made this recipe numerous times without the addition of pink salt and I thoroughly enjoy it with and without it. If you're not worried about foodborne illnesses, then you could reduce the pink salt quantity to 2 teaspoons or leave it out altogether. 



How Long to Smoke Venison Backstrap?

The best way (and my favorite way) to smoke venison loins is low and slow, by way of an indirect heat source. By smoking the deer backstraps between 190 degrees F and 200 degrees F, you are able to achieve an even internal temperature throughout the meat and it will also be less prone to drying out. The riskiest thing you can do here in my opinion is to smoke the meat over high heat. 


Besides cooking at a low temperature, the easiest way to ensure that you don't overcook the meat is to check the internal temperature with an instant-read digital thermometer. Trust me, if you nail the temperature, it will be one of the best things that you put in your mouth, you just need to be patient. 


Internal Temperature 

As noted in the recipe, I don't recommend cooking venison loins above an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. The meat is very lean and contains very little fat, so it will become dry and chewy if overcooked. Whether you decide to cook it below or above this recommended internal temperature ultimately depends on your personal preferences. 


Serving Suggestions

The smoked loins are best served sliced thinly across the grain at no more than a 1/4 of an inch thick. While you could serve this meat hot, it is best served at room temperature or slightly warm. 

Sauces that pair well are various mustards, hollandaise, bearnaise, horseradish cream sauce and mayonnaise-based sauces such as Alabama white sauce. You can even throw them on a crispy cracker topped off with your favorite slice of cheese (I won't tell anybody).





Looking for other wild game recipes? These are some of my favorites:


If you make this easy smoked backstrap recipe, be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! Also, tag me on Instagram with some of your creations. I thoroughly enjoy hearing feedback and checking out the photos of recipes that you've made.


 

SMOKED VENISON BACKSTRAP


Servings: Varies depending on the size of the venison loin.

Brine Time: 24 to 48 hours

Optional Resting Time: 12-14 hours

Cooking Time: up to 2 hours

Author: Larry White


INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 gallon water

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ( or 42 grams) pink salt (instacure No. 1)

  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries (crushed)

  • 1 bunch fresh sage

  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • ground black pepper (freshly ground is best if you have it)

  • one large or 2 small deer loins, left whole and silver skin removed

  • Wood Chips or Pellets (hickory, oak, pecan or fruit woods are good options)


DIRECTIONS

  1. Trim and remove any silver skin from the meat.

  2. Make the brine. In a large pot add all of the ingredients except the venison loin and black pepper.

  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.

  4. Place the brine in the refrigerator until it has thoroughly chilled.

  5. Add the venison loin to the brine. Place a plate on top of the meat if needed to keep it fully submerged. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

  6. Remove the loin from the brine and rinse it under cold water. Dry the loin off with paper towels until no moisture appears on the surface of the meat.

  7. Lightly dust the loin with a little ground black pepper. Place the loin on a wire rack that is sitting over a baking tray. Place the tray in the refrigerator uncovered for 12 to 24 hours. This allows for the brine to evenly distribute throughout the meat and for it to develop a tacky surface for the smoke to better adhere.

  8. The next day place the meat on your smoker's grill grates and smoke the deer loin at 200 degrees F. Smoke until you reach your preferred internal temperature by checking it with a good meat thermometer. Again, I recommend cooking to around a 135-degree internal temperature.

  9. Let the loin rest at room temperature between 20 and 30 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain. If stored properly It will keep in the refrigerator for about 7 days.

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Meet Larry White

Chef Larry White

Hey folks, I'm Larry. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by my years as a chef, travels as a hunter, and being a father. I cook from these experiences, so my food ranges anywhere from fun and creative to traditional and to what somewhat family style comfort food.     

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