Roadkill on the Grill?

It was a fairytale ending; just not the one Bambi had expected.

Slicing tthe smoked venison.

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.

Covered 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.


Smokeman’s Favorite Rub

This rub comes from Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe.  I have to say it’s my favorite, it’s excellent on everything.

Big Time Rub


  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves (not powder)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix together and you’re done.

Note: This rub by itself is to salty for ribs, you’ll need to add some sugar for ribs. Mix 1 cup of rub with 1/2 cup of sugar in the raw.


Brisket & Pork Butts with coffee, cocoa paste

I made a paste with 3 tablespoon instant expresso, 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon fresh cracked tri-color black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cumin seed toasted & ground, 1 tablespoon coriander seed toasted & ground, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, apple juice or cider or as needed.  Place the paste on a full brisket and place in fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.  Layer the top of the brisket with bacon and fire up your grill for indirect cooking/smoking.

Try the same paste on pork butts which means you may need to double or triple the paste.

Place the meat in a 250 to 275 degree smoker for 5 hours while it’s smoking baste brisket & pork with this moping sauce which has 1 beer, 12 oz of apple cider, 1 can of beef stock, 1 cup Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce to taste,  kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste.  If you’re cooking this much meat you might need to double or triple the moping sauce as well.

Once the internal temp gets to 170 degrees place the brisket in a foil pan with some moping sauce and the same goes for the pork butts. Cover the both of them with foil and lower the temp of the smoker to 225 to 250 degrees for 3 to 4 more hours or until the internal temp of the meat gets to 190 degrees.

Now, I know some of you are saying that I’m cheating, cooking them this way but  it works great, saves time & fuel and think about it after the first 5 hours how much smoke is really going to penetrate the meat after the burnt ends & bark have been established.


If the meat is getting too dark during the 1st 5 hours cover the top of the meat with a layer foil.

Always let your meat rest in this case for at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Apple & pecan works well as well as hickory & oak.

The bacon may start to over cook after the 1st or 2nd hour feel free to remove it and use it in your sauce or beans.

You won’t be sorry you cooked them this way your guests will love it.  Enjoy & keep your grill on!!!

Monster Beef Brisket

This Monster Beef Brisket was purchased in the spring…just waiting for the right weekend. Well, as it turns out, this is the right weekend. As you can see, this 13-pound monster just barely fit on the grate of my cheapo offset firebox smoker, but it did fit, and man, oh man, did the cheapo smoker come through in flying colors.

My Charcoal Chucker colleague “SmokeMan” offered me his favorite rub recipe to try on it. Unfortunately, the rub recipe arrived in my in-box at a time when I really did not feel like going out and hitting the grocery store. So, as usual in the life of an idiot who perseveres through life with a cheapo offset firebox smoker, I improvised. My rub ended up being a thick coating of brown sugar rubbed in on both sides of the beef brisket, with the fat side scored in about two-inch-by-two-inch squares. That way, the rub gets into the grooves and soaks in. Atop the rub layer of brown sugar, I used Montreal Steak rub, which I had on hand.

After a generous rubdown, the brisket went into the fridge overnight.

This morning, I fired up the cheapo at about 8:45 a.m. It was up to temp…around 250 or so by about 10 a.m. I wedged the monster brisket onto the grate of the cheapo. Yes, yes, yes. Another problem. I thought I had a bag of chunk charcoal in the garage, but noooooooooooo. Again, did not feel like going to the store, and fighting traffic on my day off, so — sorry purists — briquettes had to due.  But, I did have some nice mesquite chips with which to inspire some smoke…and I used some hickory too for good measure.

Started out this bad boy at about 225-230 degrees for the first four hours. Fat side up. I mopped every hour with a blush wine. Not too much since I did not want to wash off all the tasty effects of the rub.

After four hours, I pulled the monster off the smoker, wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil and slapped it back down on the grate of the cheapo. Because briskets tend to shrink, it fit perfectly this time around.

After fueling up my offset firebox for the last marathon haul, I fired up a nice cigar and babysat the monster for about an hour.  At roughly 5:30…a little ahead of time…I checked the internal temp and it shot right up to 200-205. I knew I had to act fast because I usually like to stay around 190 degrees.

I took if off the grate of my cheapo offset firebox smoker and carried it in the house. Of course, I know it is always best to keep the meat wrapped in foil and let it rest for a half hour or so, but I simply could not resist cutting into it for a nibble or two.

OMG. It melted in my mouth. I have had good brisket, including some primo stuff from both “SmokeMan” and “PorkPusher,” but this is probably my best  brisket ever. Soon it will be cut and much of it saved for tomorrow, when friends and neighbors — weather permitting — will be invited to the firepit for an evening of drinks, brisket, cigars and clever conversation about the issues of the day.

And here is how it looked right before it became wrapped up in foil for the final four hours on the cheapo smoker. Wish the other Charcoal Chuckers could have shared in my personal glory of conquering this monster brisket…if they had, I am quite sure I would have basked in the genteel applause of their faithful support. Charcoal Chuckers rock. Next time, I will use “SmokeMan’s” special rub recipe.

Spring Herb Chicken Breast

My wife Laura prepared this awesome dish. Chives, Garlic, Thyme, Oregano, Parmesan, Olive oil, Salt & Pepper. The herbs came from our garden.  Mix the herbs, cheese, S & P & olive oil together in a bowl.  Pull back the skin on the chicken and apply the herb paste on meat & the skin of the chicken.  Set up your grill for indirect cooking so the temp of the grill is about 300 degrees and cook until chicken’s internal temp is 160 degrees.   Let the meat rest before you enjoy the meal.  Serve with grilled Asparagus and a salad.

Three Smokin’ Chicks

Weekends are busy around our house, so this past weekend’s smoking activity had to be squeeeeeezed in. But the old Cheapo Charbroil had room for three smokin’ chicks on a crisp late summer evening in northern Virginia. My premier entry in the BBQ blogosphere focuses on three Purdue Roasters I picked up this afternoon at the local Wally World. I like the roasters because they are meaty and moist.

Three plump chickens held down the grate of the cheapo smoker over Labor Day weekend.

I had no time to do an overnight marinade, so I simple rubbed each down with a combo of Montreal Steak Seasoning, generic Cajun salt and onion powder. I put all three of these ladies on the grill at about 4:30 p.m. Used chunk charcoal with hickory chips in the offset firebox of my cheapo smoker. Kept the temp at about 210 for most of the duration, but bumped it up to around 250 to finish them off up to an internal breast temp of 190 degrees.

My two sons were home from college for the weekend, so one was immediately ripped into…no time for resting the smoked meat at this house. The other two were wrapped in foil to rest a bit before going into the fridge for a party tomorrow afternoon.

If the first one is any indication, the two remaining birds should be the belles of the ball…moist, tender and a subtle, but not overpowering smoke finish.

The beverage pairing for the evening of bird smoking was red beer — a favorite among folks hailing from Kansas. A splash of bloody Mary mix in the bottom of the glass, followed by a pour of your favorite beer and a swift stir. All-in-all, a nice way to enjoy an extended weekend…and an evening by the smoker.

Will try to do better with pics the next time through, but I did not have much light to work with and currently shooting with the not-so-advanced optics of my Blackberry. Hope you all had as nice of a weekend as I did. Read more of this post

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