The summer grilling season is here. When done right, grilled venison is a familiar and tasty preparation that everyone, even those new to eating deer or elk, will enjoy. But, before you fire up the grill, take the time to ensure you’re doing everything you can to make the best meal possible.
Choose the Right Cut
Leave tenderloins whole and grill your backstraps in larger, 10 to 12-inch pieces. Sirloin or round steaks should be fairly thick, in the range of 1 ½ inches. Or better yet, grill these cuts as whole roasts. Venison roasts from the upper portion of the rear leg are ideal grilling cuts. Top and bottom rounds, eye rounds, sirloins and triangle roasts are all good choices for summer cookouts. Tougher cuts, such as shoulder roasts, shanks, and necks are best reserved for slow-cooking.
Add Some Fat
Marinades and Spices
A mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, a little lime juice and a couple of your favorite spices are really all you need to make a good marinade. Always use salt and black pepper and try cajun seasoning or smoked paprika. Since mild marinades don’t really tenderize meat, there’s no reason to add your venison to a marinade well before cooking. A half-hour soak is more than enough.
Cook it Right
Make sure to get a good, crusty sear on both sides and then pull the meat from the grill as soon it reaches 125 degrees on the inside. If you’re a gas grill user looking for that smoky charcoal flavor, consider adding a small aluminum pie tin filled with hickory or apple wood chips to your grill. Allow the wood chips to smolder while your meats cooks and you’ll add a smoky flavor to the finished product.
Rest the Meat
Thin to Win
Garnishes and Sauces
For sauces, venison pairs well with berries and red wine. Make a simple sauce by cooking a tablespoon of minced shallots in a few tablespoons of butter. Add a cup of stock and reduce by half. Add a cup of red wine and reduce by half again. Next, add a half cup of blueberries, blackberries, or berry jam to the mixture. Add salt and black pepper and then reduce until the sauce sticks to the bottom of a spoon. I like to make my sauces in advance so that I can focus on the grill rather than being distracted while I’m cooking the meat. At serving time, just drizzle the warmed sauce sparingly over your grilled venison.