Whether that first taste of your deer comes in camp or at home, there’s no better main ingredient than fresh venison tenderloins. These lean muscles, loosely attached to the interior of the spinal column, aren’t to be confused with the larger backstraps, the main loin muscles along both sides of the top of a deer’s back. Sometimes called “tenders” or “fish,” the tenderloins are much smaller but just as tasty.
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
- 1 pound venison tenderloin
- Montreal steak seasoning
- Minced (or powder) garlic
- Soak venison tenderloin in milk for 30 minutes, then pat dry. Sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning and garlic to taste.
- Heat smoker to 225-250 degrees, then add a handful of your favorite hardwood chips in an unsealed foil pouch.
- Smoke venison tenderloins over indirect heat until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 100-110 degrees. Then wrap venison with thinly sliced bacon (held in place with wood toothpicks) and return to the grill to finish cooking.
Note that the venison will hit its ideal internal temperature before the bacon is crisp. So if you prefer crisp bacon, peel it off and cook over direct heat as you “rest” the venison. (Wrapping venison from the start reduces its smoke flavor.)
Editor’s Note: If you don’t have a smoker, try this skillet method without the bacon: Place seasoned tenderloin in a lightly oiled skillet, hot enough to sear the meat. Turn often to avoid overcooking. (An internal temperature of 135-140 degrees is ideal for juicy meat with great flavor.) Let the meat “rest” five minutes, then serve.