October 2, 2011 Leave a comment
It was a fairytale ending; just not the one Bambi had expected.
Here in Virginia, like in a lot of other states, there are deer everywhere. They eat our crops, eat our gardens, threaten human life when they jump out in front of our cars.
Well, the latest visitor to a Charcoal Chucker smoker/grill was literally caught off guard — like a deer in headlights. And, quite frankly, it was a delicious way to get even with these garden marauders.
As it turns out, my neighbor Michael is on the call list in our community when deer are killed when they attempt to take on automobiles. Sitting around the evening firepit several weeks ago, the call came. Michael, another neighbor (Gene) and I hopped into Michael’s truck to retrieve the unfortunate victim. Michael is an Air Force guy and Gene is a retired Marine helicopter pilot, so you just know this was going to turn into a quick, but productive mission.
We found the little fella, as directed by our local law enforcement personnel, in a roadside ditch, where he had lost a battle with a passing automobile. We loaded the little guy into the pickup and brought him home, with the pride of hunter gatherers who had dispatched the quarry with our own wile, rather than a passing car’s wheel well.
Now, Michael is one of those guys who could survive in the woods on instinct alone. He’s a hardy Minnesotan and has a wealth of practical knowledge and the ambition to tackle anything and succeed. He dressed and skinned the fawn…and vital to our story today…reserved one of the wee venison hindquarters for my smoker.
The delicious fairytale started by a quick Google search of “how to smoke venison.” The key tips that stuck out to me were these:
- Venison has very little fat content and can dry out if the heat is too high.
- Try to stay away from too much salt.
- And…everything is better with BACON.
I started off by generously rubbing the meat with Mrs. Dash garlic and herb (lots of flavor, no salt). It worked great.
Step two: I took a pound of smoked, unsalted bacon and covered every inch of the little deer ham with bacon held in place with wooden toothpicks. After coating the meat with olive oil, this baby was ready for the smoker.
I took the cooking temperature up to about 250-270 and put the meat on, mopping every 30 minutes with some rose′ wine.
In spite of directions that said to take the internal temp up to a range of 145 to 160, I really did not feel comfortable with that low of a temp for wild game, regardless of how young or tender the meat might be. However, after about four and a half hours on the smoker, and the bacon drippings doing their job, I was surprised to see that the internal temperature had spiked to 180 degrees. I knew I had to act fast or risk a dry outcome.
Bambi came off the smoker with a fine dressing of deep golden bacon. After letting the meat rest for an hour, it was ready to serve around the firepit. The meat carried a moist, smoky flavor, and due to Bambi’s age, was extremely tender.
This fairytale did not have a Disney-esque ending for our furry friend, but for those who had a chance to taste the results, it was an evening with a happily-ever-after ending.