Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: Cleaning, preparing and cooking deer meat . . . . From: Chris Layne,
Subject: Re: Cooking deer meat
I wrote you several months back about cooking meat that was too smokey. Thank you for your reply. I have modified my charcoal/hickory mix and have been sucessful at several pork shoulders. Thank you for the information!
One of my relatives-in-law , a retired meat inspector who worked for the State of Virginia in the Warrenton area (Northern Virginia, near Washington D.C.), told me several tips that they used to test for "bad meat" and also told me that the cut of shoulder (pork) I was looking for to cook was called "long cut shoulder" in this area of the country. That is the butt and the picnic with the bone and skin. He also gave me some inside information and contacts at the local slaughter houses.
ANYWAY... thats not the reason I am writing. I have some friends that are hunting deer soon, as the hunting season is coming to Virginia in November, and the subject of slow cooking the deer meat came up. I am anxious to try cooking this game as it seems to me to be a good application for the slow cooking style, that is the slow cooking of tough meat as a method of tenderizing and retaing moisture. I wounder if you would have any suggestions for me in my first experements with this meat. I feel that the deer meat is very simular to beef briskit in its texture and would cook very much the same. I would try the same rub and cooking times. I do not know what internal temperature would indicate doneness or if the Hickory would be a good smoke flavor. This rub is also open to discussion.
Happy I helped earlier and I appreciate the compliments.
Venison is quite different from brisket and from most domestic beef because it has very little if any marbling - fat interspersed in the muscle. That is why it is often tough when cooked without taking that into consideration.
But, that is not really the biggest problem with venison. The first hurdle to overcome is the stupidity of most deer hunters about how to care for a deer after it is harvested. This is so important that, in my book, I go into detail about killing and butchering deer and goats.
A deer should be quickly bled by cutting the carotid artery (jugular vein) and, if the carcass is not hung by the heels, turning the head down hill. As soon as possible thereafter the deer should be field dressed by removing the intestines and the trachea/alimentary canal. If the deer has been gut shot, the bullet path and surrounding tissue should be cut out and discarded immediately.
Next step is skinning. In removing the hide, extreme care should be used to assure minimum contact of the hair side of the hide with the meat. Once hairs are on the meat they stick firmly, camouflage themselves and seem to multiply. Care in keeping them off will save a lot of time later on and vastly improve the taste.
After the carcass is cut up, inspect and remove hairs again. When preparing to cook, inspect and remove hairs again.
With a sharp knife, remove all silverskin (shiny membrane) and extraneous matter. Only the tenderloin (often called backstrap) is tender enough for broiling. Along with the rib eye and sirloin they make excellent barbecue fare. Since venison has little or no natural fat, some must be added. Marinating, basting, larding and barding all will help. My favorite method, however, is to mix a highly seasoned oil (garlic and onion powder, ground bay, thyme, juniper berries, salt and pepper, simmered briefly and allowed to cool) and inject into the meat with a large needle. The outside will still need some basting with an oil based basting sauce.
Venison cooking temperatures are like beef and it is better rare to medium rare than over cooked.
Expect to lose some friends and sources of supply when they find out how good competently prepared venison is. An ex-friend offered me a side of venison. When I asked him if he didn't want to keep some he said, "I can't stand the taste of it and can't stay in the house when my wife is cooking it." After about 3 hours of cleaning it, I cooked it and invited his family over to taste it. They ate the tenderloin and half the hind quarter without slowing. I never got another piece of venison from them.