Smoking Venison and Deer Meat
Smoking Venison and Deer Meat – Overview
What Deer Meat Smoking Is
Deer meat smoking is the process of surrounding a piece of meat in a moist and smokey chamber while cooking it low and slow. The prolonged exposure to wood smoke allows the venison to absorb much of the flavor, giving it a taste that can’t be matched any other way. Meat smokers generally shoot for a temperature range between 200º-225º, depending on the type of meat you are smoking. Smoking venison meat also assist in preserving it. There are two mechanisms for this preservation: dehydration and the antibacterial properties of absorbed smoke.
Smoking Venison to Add Flavor
Smoking venison is exactly what the name implies: flavoring the deer meat with smoke. Using any kind of improvised device will do the job as long as the smokehouse is made from environmentally safe material. As long as smoke contacts the meat surface it will impart its flavor to the meat. The strength of the flavor depends mainly on the time and density of the smoke. Smoked meats are usually eaten cold at a later date. Many great recipes require that smoked products hang for a designated time to lose more weight to become drier. It is only then that they are ready for consumption.
Reasons for Smoking Venison
Smoking venison offers many improvements (and will also offer improvements for all different types of meat, seafoods and poultry). Besides enhancing the taste and look, it also increases its longevity, and helps preserve the deer meat last longer by slowing down the spoilage of fat and growth of bacteria. Smoking venison longer leads to more water loss, and results in a saltier and drier product, which naturally increases its shelf life (think deer jerky!). If fact, man discovered that in addition to salting and curing meat with nitrates, smoking was a very effective tool in preserving meats – which is still used to this day!
The Advantages of Smoking Venison are Numerous
- Kills certain bacteria and slows down the growth of others.
- Prevents fats from developing a rancid taste.
- Prevents mold from forming on fermented sausages.
- Extends shelf life of the product.
- Improves the taste and flavor.
- Changes the color; smoked meats shine and simply look better.
- The meat on the outside becomes a light brown, red, or almost black depending on the type of wood used, heating temperatures, and total time smoking.
Different Woods add Different Flavorings When Smoking Venison
Adding wood to your gas or charcoal grill when smoking venison can accentuate the flavor of whatever you are cooking. To flavor your venison using a gas grill, do not throw your chips on the grill. Use a container to hold the wood, such as aluminum foil, which will allow the wood to produce smoke without ash falling on the meat. When using a charcoal grill, simply add the woodchucks to the coals and close the lid for a few minutes to allow the smoke to permeate the grill. It is advisable to soak wood chips and nuts in water for 30 minutes before use, to allow them time to burn more slowly on the fire and so release their full aroma. Here are the types of wood that you can use to enhance the type of meat that you are cooking.
Type of Woods to Try When Smoking Venison
Smoking with Alder Wood
Smoking with Alder Wood produces a very delicate and slightly sweet taste when used while barbequing. The sweet, musky smoke is a traditional wood of the Northwest and is most commonly used for smoking salmon, but can also be used while cooking seafood and other food types.
Smoking with Apple Wood
Apple wood gives meat a sweet, fruity taste. Apple is the strongest smoke flavor of all the fruitwood’s. It is a good mild wood that works well on poultry and ham and will turn the meats skin a dark brown.
Smoking with Ash Wood
Ash burns extremely fast. It is light but also has a distinct flavor that is good to use on any meat.
Smoking with Birch Wood
Birch is a medium-hard wood that generates a flavor that is similar to that of maple wood. It produces a slightly sweeter taste that works well with pork and poultry.
Smoking with Hickory Wood
Hickory is probably the most-known and most commonly used of all smoking woods. It can be a bit pungent with its strong, smoky taste. It accents the meats with a flavor of bacon.
Smoking with Mesquite Wood
Mesquite has a very sweet and light taste but caution must be taken in order to keep it from overpowering the meat. It is best not to use mesquite on larger cuts that require longer smoking times. Its strong earthly flavor is great for all meats. Mesquite is also known to be one of the hottest burning woods.
Smoking with Oak Wood
Oak generates a heavy smoke flavor and is the second most popular smoking wood. Any oak will do in order to produce a mild smoke that has no after taste. It also gives the meats you are using a beautiful smoked color.
How Long To Smoke Deer Meat
Smoked venison meat is enjoyed by many people around the world. A smoker can give just about any type of deer meat a rich, smoky taste in usually around 24 hours. Using a smoker does require the right kind of wood chips for your desired taste. Deer meat is one such meat that can be smoked and served with a variety of side dishes. The key is to smoking venison is selecting right amount of time and not dry the meat out by over-smoking it.
Amount of Time it Takes to Smoke Deer Meat
Smoke your deer meat for 25 hours or slightly longer if you want a heavy smoky taste. Remember, the longer it smokes beyond 25 minutes, the drier the meat will be. After the deer meat has smoked, remove and let stand for a few minutes before serving. You can also bag the deer meat in freezer bags and store it in the freezer after smoking venison.
Preparing the Deer Meat & Smoker
Before smoking venison, cut the meat into chucks no thicker than 1 1/2 inches. Use only the lean portions of the deer. Avoid any deer meat with a large amount of gristle. Place the meat in brine (marinate) for at least 24 hours. Turn the meat over several times during the 24-hour period. Once the meat has soaked and ready to be smoked, prepare your smoker by placing the required amount of water in the unit (follow the instructions provided with your smoker) and anything else required for your smoker. When the smoker is ready, add the deer meat. You don’t have to rinse the brine off the meat if you don’t want to, it will be OK if you leave it on.
Recommended temperature for the smoker is 180 degrees F. Deer meat is generally done when the internal temperature of the meat is around 160 degrees F.
Brines to Try When Smoking Venison
When choosing a brine or marinate to soak your deer meat in, select one that suits your or your family’s taste prior. If you like orange, choose an orange juice-based brine. The acid in the juice will help break the deer meat and remove any “gamey” flavors that may be present. You can also use any type of fruit juice to soak the deer meat in. Visit your local supermarket or grocery to purchase prepared brines, or make your own by consulting a cook book.
Smoking Venison and Deer Meat – Conclusion
When made properly, smoked venison is a treat that all people can love and enjoy. Not only will the meat last longer, but will also be unique in taste and texture because of the smoking. Remember to follow the above tips and information when smoking venison to create a wonderfully tasting and nutritious treat for the ones you love.