Wood-fire Grilled Venison Loin
In Kansas, we like our whitetail large, and their backstraps medium-rare.
Among eaters, for whatever reason, there exists an aversion to wild game. The word “gamey” is often thrown around. The truth of the matter: when wild game is properly cared for, from field to table, and cooked correctly, it can wow anyone who enjoys good barbecue. (Fun fact: It’s always way healthier for you and your family.)
Backstrap, as it is called among hunters, is the loin cut from deer. Just like its beef counterpart, it is best enjoyed when cooked to the appropriate temperature. However, a big difference exists between beef and venison: venison is far, far leaner, virtually void of fat. Any fat that does exists does not render the same as beef, and therefore doesn’t taste the same.
With this recipe, in a handful of simple steps using the Pyro Tower, I can promise you will be able to grill amazing venison on the first try.
PLEASE NOTE: Be mindful of where you purchase your wood. Make sure it’s natural, preferably locally cut, something that won’t burn black. Quality wood should burn cleanly with white smoke. Should you ever see black smoke, pull that wood safely and immediately.
What You'll Need
A couple bundles of quality wood
Optional: cherry-wood or mesquite chunks Hatchet to split logs for kindling
Spatula or tongs
Can of cooking spray
A meat thermometer (recommended)
Ingredients (serves 2 people)
12 ounces venison loin, cut into 1-inch medallions
A mix of kosher salt and black pepper
Yep, nothing else
How to Make It
Start the Fire
3. Approximately half hour before you’re ready to cook, start a wood fire in base of Pyro Tower. Make sure grate is in place and clean. Add Baking Steel to right side of grate. Leave bottom door off so ample oxygen reaches wood, heating grate and raising temperature. OPTIONAL: Add smoking wood chunks (such as cherry or mesquite) for a subtle smoky taste.
4. When ready to cook, spray both sides of venison with cooking spray and place on left side of grate for a good sear. Leave top thermometer door off.
5. Place cast-iron skillet atop baking steel.
6. Once underside is seared, flip. Once second side has a good sear, remove and place in cast-iron skillet. Ideally, all medallions reach the preferred sear simultaneously (and therefore are placed in cast iron at same time).
7. Put top thermometer door on and add enough wood so temperatures rise to 450 degree Fahrenheit.
8. Flip medallions after 2-1/2 minutes, close door. Remove after 2-1/2 minutes more, and place on a clean plate, cover with aluminum foil.
9. Allow medallions to rest for 5 minutes so juices can redistribute evenly prior to serving.
10. Optional: test the internal temperature of venison medallions. Venison tastes best when cooked medium-rare (135/140 degrees Fahrenheit). If after 5 minutes of resting, if venison is below 130, place back in Pyro Tower with door closed for a few more minutes.
Jack Hennessy, Contributing Chef
Follow Jack for more insights and recipes on Instagram @WildGameJack