Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Bacon Wrapped Deer Tenderloin - It just wouldn't be my birthday without something wrapped in bacon!!
One of the main dishes for my birthday was bacon wrapped deer tenderloin. I've had deer in the past as I have many friends and family that are hunters, but it's always been a bit of an after thought rather than something I have taken a lot of time to prepare and cook. More like an appetizer or a chef's prerogative. This time we put some time and effort into the venison. For this dish, Dad and I did a tag team. He did the prep and I did the cooking. The outcome was pretty stellar. Click below to see the how we pulled it off...
Part I: The prep by Fool's Pappy
Whole Deer Tenderloin was generously provided by Adrian, a high school classmate of Fool’s Pappy:
Adrian is a hunter supreme with duck and deer being his specialties. We invited him to the party (he has poker fantasies!) and he volunteered this beautiful venison tenderloin.
Most wild game require a marinade of some sort and this recipe was obtained from Adrian’s acquaintance who was a previous Illinois State Game Cooking Champion. **Editor's note - I'm not exactly sure how one attains this title**
1-tbsp minced garlic
1-tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup soy sauce (we used ‘lite’ soy sauce to reduce sodium content and it worked well)
juice from one lemon **Editor's note - when adding the juice of a lemon run the juice through your fingers so that the seeds do not make it into the marinade**
Marinade in a gallon Ziploc bag several hours or overnight (we did overnight) then remove from marinade and wrap in bacon (we just can’t stay away from that pork fat thing!).
Grill over medium hot coals till bacon is crisp.
Prep: notice the ‘silver skin’ or membrane in the picture below when the loin is turned over?
That must be removed (it doesn’t chew well and would greatly detract form the tenderness of the loin). This is no different than what is found on a pork tenderloin sometimes, or on whole beef tenderloins for that matter.
Use a sharp knife to begin the process with upward pressure on the ‘skin’. You don’t want to remove too much meat while performing this. The next few pictures will give you an idea of how to properly remove the silver skin:
Once the ‘silver skin’ is removed I sliced the loin in half to fit easily into a gallon Ziploc bag. The marinade ingredients were mixed and poured into the bag over the deer loin. Then it’s into the fridge overnight awaiting the bacon wrap tomorrow and ultimately the grill:
Adrian was kind enough to perform the bacon wrapping of the Tenderloin he was gracious enough to offer. **Editor's note - please note the lemon seeds we had to pull off the loins that wound up on the right side of the cutting board in the next three pics because Dad didn't bother with running the juice through his fingers**
Part II: The cooking by the Original Grillin Fool
By this time the sun had set and a chilly, sunny afternoon had turned into a very windy and bitterly cold evening. I loaded the grill up with more charcoal before adding the venison to the grill. Once the coals got going I added the loins directly over the heat as evidenced by the red embers visible directly below the meat:
Venison or deer should be treated just like beef in terms of cooking. Maybe cut back cooking time just a bit as there is less fat in venison but treat it like it is beef in terms of method. To that note, I cooked them over high heat and then pulled back to bake till finished. Normally I don't cook beef or venison over high heat with the lid closed as it could lead to burning the meat pretty quickly without constant monitoring particularly with bacon grease dripping down onto the fire.
But I didn't have a choice here. It was just too cold and windy to try to cook these things without the lid down. What I did to compensate is I listened closely. When I heard it flare up inside I opened the lid and moved the meat away from the flare ups. I must've done this about eight times. Once the bacon crisped on the bottom I flipped them over. Here is a close up of one after I flipped it:
The bacon unraveled a bit with all of the moving of the loins that I did. Don't let that bother you. Once the bacon was cooked I tested the firmness of the loin and it was still extremely rare. So I pulled it off to the side to bake with the lid down. But I didn't push it off to the side with no coals. I put them right on the edge of the coals. One in the front and one in the back. The other side of the grill was only running about 150 degrees. So I had to leave them right next to if not over some of the coals. About 10 minutes later they were done. The bacon was a little over done but the meat was perfect. Here they are resting (sorry about the poor lighting):
After 10 minutes of we gave Adrian the honor of slicing into those beauties. Here is the one that is a bit more done than the other - a nice medium:
And here are a couple shots of the one a little closer to medium rare. I had a hard time capturing the color of the meat. The flash washed it out but without the flash it was pretty dark. Hopefully you get the idea of how great this was:
What I would do differently? I probably should've moved the grill over to the side of the house and used the house as a wind break. Otherwise I wouldn't do a thing differently. These came out incredibly good. Everyone was surprised to find out it was venison rather than beef. There was no gaminess at all. These got nothing but raves...