Smoked Venison Tenderloin.
The back strap runs along the spine of the deer and contains very little connective tissue or fat. It is lean, has a texture similar to filet mignon and because of the thickness, and is excellent for smoking. Smoking is by far our favorite preparation method for this cut of meat.
The key for tender and flavorful smoked wild game is to brine during the preparation. A brine is
a marinade with a high salt and sugar content that elicits a specific reaction within the meat.
Two main processes are at work in brine:
1) First, tenderloin is largely devoid of salt, so when marinated in a salty water solution the process of osmosis kicks into action and the area with less salt concentration pulls the saltwater solution into the meat and hydrates it. This helps to keep the meat juicier over the several hours (r’s) smoking process.
2) Next, the introduction of salt into the meat causes a breakdown of certain proteins within the meat. This breakdown makes the extremely lean venison much tenderer than it would be without this process.
Here is a basic brine recipe to try to make one -gallon of brine for venison tenderloins. This should be adequate to cover one whole back-strap.
1 Gallon of Water
¾ Cup of Salt
½ Cup of regular (not reduced sodium!) soy sauce
¼ Cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of molasses
1 tbs. rosemary
2 tbs. pepper
Put this mixture in a ziplock bag along with the back-strap, this way the meat is completely covered in the brine. Let this stand refrigerated for at least 12 hours but no more than 24.
Once you’re ready to smoke the venison, generously apply Memphis Mae rub or any Memphis blend rub across the entire tenderloin, and prepare several strips of thin cut bacon to wrap the back-strap. As the meat smokes, the bacon fat will drip down over the meat and keep the venison from losing valuable moisture. Use tooth picks to secure.
Place the venison tenderloin on the smoker with (2) chunks of flavor wood and smoke at about 250 degrees for
around 2 hours or until the tenderloin reaches your preferred cooking range, but a good gauge is to shoot for 140 internal meat temperature. Grill for a few minutes for crisp bacon and grill marks.