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Are You Game? How to Grill or Smoke Venison and Similar Meats



We often receive emails or messages on social media asking Steven for more information on grilling or barbecuing game meats. This one, from Matt G., is representative:

I really love your shows and cookbooks. Your recipes have expanded my palate and cooking methods. I cook a lot of wild game, primarily deer. Your recipes work very well with that meat. I’d love to see you put out a cookbook geared towards wild game. Keep up the good work!

A few years ago, the fast food chain Arby’s put venison sandwiches on the menus of select outlets. The promotion, which lasted one day, was a publicity coup for the company. But don’t expect to see whitetail burgers at your local take-out place anytime soon. The fact is, unless they hunt themselves or have a generous sportsman in their circle, most Americans rarely—if ever—have the opportunity to eat game meats like venison.

The word venison usually refers to deer, but the word is derived from the Latin word venari, which means to hunt or pursue. Deer and other cervids (elk, moose, reindeer) have been on mankind’s plate since our Neolithic ancestors discovered fire. In the U.S., it is illegal to sell venison harvested in the wild. But thousands of deer farms have sprung up in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas in the past 20 years, making the processed meat available to the general public.


Tips on Grilling and Smoking Venison
Like grass-fed beef, venison is very lean with little intramuscular fat or marbling. But there are several ways to enhance its succulence and tenderness:

Naturally tender cuts, like the loin and backstrap, should be cooked to medium-rare. Overcooking will dry them out.
Drape or wrap the meat with bacon before grilling or smoking.
Marinate tougher cuts, such as the leg, in your favorite marinade. Any marinade suitable for beef will work well with venison. (See Steven’s book, Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades for ideas.) A few juniper berries, crushed with the side of a knife or cleaver, pair well with game meats.
Expose meats that will be cooked for several hours to flavor-enhancing smoke, then wrap in unlined butcher paper or foil with a small amount of liquid—beef broth, fruit juice, soda pop, wine, or beer—to finish the cook. Be sure to save any juices that accumulate for serving with the meat.
Serve a jus, gravy, herbed butter, or sauce on the side. One of our favorites is Steven’s Three Hots Horseradish Sauce. Fruit sauces or salsas are also complimentary to game meats.
Add ground suet or fatty bacon to ground venison for the juiciest burgers.



A Quick Guide to Venison Cuts and the Best Cooking Methods
As with all barbecue, of course, it’s important to pair the cut of meat with the most appropriate cooking method. Here’s a quick guide:

Venison Backstrap or Strip Loin
This cut, which runs on either side of the spine, is prized for its tenderness. (Trim off any visible silverskin before grilling.) Similar to but smaller than a beef tenderloin, it is best when grilled whole to rare or medium-rare over a hot fire. (It can also be cooked using the reverse-sear method.) Let the meat rest briefly, then slice into medallions.

Venison Rack
This includes the backstrap and ribs and can be grilled just like rack of lamb. Again, the meat will retain more juice if you leave the rack intact, then separate into chops after cooking the meat to medium-rare. Season the outside as you would prime rib—garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper, for example, Dijon-style mustard, or a compound butter like Shallot Sage Butter.

Venison Leg/Haunch/Rump
The four muscles that make up the leg (see the banner photo above) can be smoke-roasted whole, spit-roasted, or cut into steaks. When cut into cubes, it also makes good Dutch oven stews or chili. Alternatively, you can trim off the fat and sinew and turn the meat into venison jerky. [SEE LINK BELOW, CIALINA.]

Venison Shank
If you’ve ever eaten osso buco, you know how proper cooking can turn this collagen-rich cut into something sublime. We like to give shanks an hour of fragrant wood smoke at 225 to 250 degrees, then transfer them to a foil drip pan with a half inch of liquid (beef broth, wine, beer, etc.) on the bottom. Cover tightly with foil and cook at 300 degrees until fork-tender. The time will depend on the thickness of the shank. Serve with polenta, mashed potatoes, or rice.


Grilled and Smoked Venison Recipes
1. Wine-Marinated Elk Loin
Get the Recipe »

2. Herb-Crusted Venison Filets With Horseradish Sauce

Get the Recipe »

3. Smoked Venison Jerky

Get the Recipe »


Do you have tips on grilling or smoking venison? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram!

The post Are You Game? How to Grill or Smoke Venison and Similar Meats appeared first on

By: Cialina TH
Title: Are You Game? How to Grill or Smoke Venison and Similar Meats
Sourced From:
Published Date: 2020 04 22

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Grilling Recipes

Jalapeño-Lime Chicken Skewers



When I'm devising a marinade, I always taste it to ensure the flavor and seasoning are all in line with expectations. It's not uncommon for a marinade to get pushed in a directions that makes it taste a bit overboard on its own, but that's often needed because flavors will get diminished when the marinade is adorning its subject and has been cooked. There have been some marinades though that I try and think, “I'd eat that with a spoon.” I don't think I've actually developed a recipe though where the marinade purposefully did double duty as a meat seasoning and dip, so I figured I might as well give that shot and see how it works out. In the case of these jalapeño-lime chicken skewers, the answer was, surprisingly well.

The trickiest part of this recipe was finding the right balance to the sauce so it would taste good as a dip, but also have enough flavor to work as a marinade. To achieve that, I started with tangy Greek yogurt as a base since that seemed like a good direction for a dual purpose sauce. I pureed the yogurt in a blender with cilantro, cumin, jalapeño, garlic, and lime juice and zest. The result was a sauce that had a good hit of heat, hefty tang, and appealing green hue. The cumin and garlic also gave it some extra depth and nuance that I may have dialed up if this would have been used a marinade alone, but I knew would come out in the final dish after the chicken was dipped in the sauce.

Jalapeño-lime Chicken Skewers

Once I had the sauce settled, I took to the task of cubing up chicken for the skewers. I advocate for chicken thighs for this use in most instance because the added flavor and fat in the dark meat adds insurance to ending with juicy results. The only place breasts actually do better than thighs in this application is they cube up more nicely—for the thighs, I sometimes have to cut longer strips that I then fold over on the skewer to arrive at a more cube-like shape.

Jalapeño-lime Chicken Skewers

After the chicken was prepped, I moved it into a medium bowl and poured in roughly half the sauce. I tossed that to ensure the chicken was all well coated, then covered, and set it in the fridge. While the marinade had a fair amount of lime juice, the citric acid doesn't have such a drastic effect on the texture of the meat that it can't be left to marinate overnight. The marinade doesn't need that long though to do its work and I only let mine rest in the fridge for about six hours—prepping it in the morning and then cooking it in the mid-afternoon.

Jalapeño-lime Chicken Skewers

When the time came to grill, I skewered up the chicken and then lit a full chimney of coals. After letting the grill preheat, I placed the skewers over direct, high heat and let them cook. At the start, they stuck to the grates with might, but as they seared, the meat began to release and I was able to begin flipping.

Jalapeño-lime Chicken Skewers

I had to deal with some sticking still here and there, but nothing that a little extra scrape with the tongs couldn't handle. As each side was more evenly seared, I was able to move the chicken around easier, at which point I flipped and turned them more regularly so they would be well browned and cooked through all over. You can always test doneness with an instant-read thermometer—you're looking for between 160 to 165°F—but I found for this recipe, once everything was well browned, the chicken was definitely done, which took about ten minutes of grilling time total.

Jalapeño-lime Chicken Skewers

Following the glamour shots, I verified chicken itself had a very nice flavor. The marinade definitely was on the lighter side, but the brightness of the lime and cilantro came through along with a bit of earthiness from the cumin and fruitiness from the jalapeño, but with very little heat. That mellow, yet effective, flavor got a big boost after a dip in the reserved sauce, which brought in a lot of what was already happening, but in a more pronounced way that also delivered a nice spiciness which was balanced by the cooling yogurt. It definitely made a good case that a sauce can do dual work as a marinade and dip given the right attention to detail.

Published on Thu Sep 9, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

  • Yield 4 servings
  • Prep 15 Minutes
  • Inactive 4 Hours
  • Cook 10 Minutes
  • Total 4 Hours 25 Minutes


  • For the Sauce
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup packed roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 medium jalapeño, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2lbs chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • Metal or bamboo skewers
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. To make the marinade: Place yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic, lime zest, soy sauce, cumin, and brown sugar in the jar of a blender. Puree until all ingredients are very finely chopped and sauce is green and smooth. Transfer 1/2 of sauce to a medium bowl, add in cubed chicken, and to evenly coat. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator and marinate for 4 hours to overnight. Transfer remaining sauce to an airtight container and place in refrigerator.
  2. Thread chicken onto skewers so each piece is touching the next.
  3. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides and center of meat registers between 160-165°F on an instant read thermometer, about 10 minutes total. Transfer skewers to platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with reserved sauce for dipping.

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By: (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Jalapeño-Lime Chicken Skewers
Sourced From:
Published Date: 09/09/21

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Grilling Recipes

Hot Link Stuffed Tri-tip



I used a long slender knife to make a cut all the way from the wide end of the tri-tip to the narrow end. I stopped just short of cutting through the narrow end.

The best way to do this is to make a cut all the way through then turn your knife about 45°F and make another cut all the way through.

Insert about a teaspoon of butter in the entryway..

Push the kielbasa, hotlink, etc. all the way in. If it's having too much trouble, try making the cavity just a little wider with your knife.

I used a link of all beef kielbasa with jalapeños in my stuffed tri-tip.

Sprinkle about 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of course kosher salt on the top side of the tri-tip. I use Morton's in the blue box since it is flaked and dissolves much faster and easier than most other kosher salt. Feel free to use another brand/kind but the amount may need to be modified slightly depending on its granule shape and size.

Please see my article on wet brining vs. dry brining for an in-depth look at this subject.

I also sprinkled it real good with my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)

Place the tri-tip in the fridge overnight if possible or at least 4 hours to give the salt plenty of time to react with the meat.

Here it is after 10 hours.. ready to go in the smoker.

Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225°F using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

Once your smoker is heated up and producing smoke, place the tri-tip directly on the grate or you can use a pan/rack to ensure the smoke is able to get to all sides.

I used the Hasty Bake Legacy for this cook.. you can use any smoker or even the grill for this as long as you maintain the correct temperature and remove it when it reaches it's perfect finish temperature.

Let the tri-tip cook for 2 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F. If you run at 275°F, it will get done in about an hour or less.

If you want to finish the tri-tip with a sear (recommended), remove it from the smoker when it reaches 110°F and place it on a very hot grill, griddle or iron pan. Sear all sides of the tri-tip and don't forget the sides/edges.

On the Hasty Bake you simply need to remove the deflector over the charcoal pan and raise the pan so that it sits right below the grates in the “sear” position.

Watch the meat carefully and turn as required to sear evenly.

Once the tri-tip is finished cooking, set it on a cutting board and slice it according to the diagram on THIS PAGE.

Just beautiful!!

All sliced up!

Great recipe, Rob! It was really cool having a piece of sausage/hot link nestled into each slice and the flavor was out of this world!

Beef,Newsletter Archive,2021,Sausage,Tri-tip

By: Jeff Phillips
Title: Hot Link Stuffed Tri-tip
Sourced From:
Published Date: 04/29/21

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Grilling Recipes

Mad Scientist BBQ Spare Ribs v2.0



Smoked another slab or ribs and this time I started up the XL slowly to better control the temp. Rubbed with a little Kosher Salt and Oakridge Dominator Sweet Rib Rub. Smoked for 4 hours at 225. Ramped temp up to 275 gradually for an hour. Then wrapped in foil for 30 minutes. Unwrapped and glazed with Rufus Teague Honey Sweet for 30 minutes. This time each rib was moist compared to my last attempt. I believe this is because I was able to control the temp better by not opening the dome several times to spritz. Next time I may go back to Salt and Pepper for the rub and apply 2 hours prior to the cook. My thermapen was probing tender after the short wrap and the temp was 190 internal.

EggHead Forum

By: dstearn
Title: Mad Scientist BBQ Spare Ribs v2.0
Sourced From:
Published Date: 04/26/21

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