Deer meat, or venison, is a lean, tender meat that’s great for smoking, but requires a little extra kick of flavor and the right cooking technique. A little prep work can go a long way in helping you enjoy the best smoked deer meat you’ve ever tasted. The secret? Brining the meat before smoking.
How to Smoke Deer Meat in 6 Steps
Brining the meat before smoking will help eliminate that “gamey” taste without sacrificing the flavor of the meat. Because venison is such a lean meat, it’s important to preserve as much of its natural juices as possible. Brining helps with this as well. We’ll show you how to brine and smoke your meat in the following steps.
1. First of all, Prepare the Meat
Before brining the meat, trim off as much connective tissue and fat as you can. For bands of silverskin, score them with a knife, but do not cut into the meat.
2. Brine the Venison Meat
The next step is to create the brine for your meat. Now, you’ll find plenty of brine recipes on the Internet, but a basic brine is very simple.
- 1 Gallon of water
- 1/2 cup soy sauce – Make sure not to buy the reduced sodium kind
- 3/4 cup of Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup of molasses
- 2 tbs. pepper
- 1 tbs. rosemary
This particular brine recipe is enough to cover a whole back-strap. You will want to submerge the meat into the solution so that it is completely covered, and allow it to stand in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, but no longer than 24 hours. Consider using a large stainless steel pot or a food-storage container to brine the meat in.
Why bother brining the meat? The process works in two different ways to really kick up the flavor and juiciness of the meat. It’s this one extra step that really makes a difference in the end result.
- The salty water breaks down certain proteins in the meat, making it tender.
- The salty water solution is pulled into areas of the meat with less salt concentration to hydrate the venison.
3. Soak the Woodchips
Soak approximately one pound of wood chips in water for one to two hours before smoking.
4. Remove the Deer Meat
Remove the meat from the brine solution and rinse well. Pat dry with paper towels. Coat the meat with your favorite spice blend, rub or paste.
5. Prepare Your Smoker
Prepare your smoker by filling up the water pan and filling the wood chip box with your soaked wood chips. If using an electric smoker, you can set the temperature, and let the smoker start heating up.
6. Smoke the Meat
Now you can start smoking the meat. Be sure to check the temperature on the smoker as well as the wood chips and water pan every 30 minutes or so. Ideally, you want to keep the temperature between 250 and 300 F. If the temperature gets too high, open the vent halfway. If the temperature gets too low, add more coals (if using a charcoal smoker). With an electric model, the smoker should do a good job of regulating the temperature for you.
Smoke the meat for approximately 1.5 hours per pound, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 140F. Once the meat has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes before cutting it.
Conclusion: It’s Your Turn
This is the most basic way to smoke deer meat. You can also wrap the meat in bacon for extra flavor and to make the meat even more tender. Regardless of your recipe, you need to make sure that you do not overcook the meat. Venison is extremely lean, so it dries out quickly.