4PoGo7's BBQ Bambi - Venison Backstrap Mishap!

Discussion in 'Wild Game' started by 4pogo7, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. 4pogo7

    4pogo7 Smoking Fanatic

    BBQ Bambi - Venison Backstrap Mishap!

    This was my second time smoking a venison backstrap, but it didn’t go quite as well. Although it still had decent results.

    First backstrap:


    Day 1 Prep:

    I started on 8/3/15 in the evening by rinsing a 3 lb cut from a venison backstrap and patting it dry with paper towels. This was 100% fat free and had as much silver skin removed as possible. I then applied yellow mustard and a rub mix. Into a zip-lock and into the fridge for 24 hours.

    Day 2 Smoking:

    I set up my electric ECB and filled the water pan. Then I filled a chip box with hickory that had been soaking for about 24 hours. With the chip box sitting directly on the electric element and everything warmed up I probed the backstrap with my remote Maverick digital meat thermometer and put it on the top grate. (I forgot to take a picture or note the time)

    I then went to work in the garage while it smoked.

    9:54PM------------Internal Temp (IT) was getting close to 145° so I stopped working in the garage and washed up quick and got things ready.

    ****Things Started Getting Weird****

    9:57PM------------IT alarm goes off at 145° but then drops to high 130’s and then spikes to low 150’s. I reset the alarm for an IT of 155° and walk away. I don’t get 15 feet away and the alarm is going off again for 155°. I watch the temp swing from a low of about 140° to a high of about 175°. I think it somehow might be affected by the heating element kicking on and off so I unplug my ECB. It keeps swings but the range gets hotter and hotter.

    10:07PM-----------IT is all over the place so I pull the backstrap and take it inside. The outside looks very dry and the IT is now holding at 157°. I am concerned it is going to be very dry since venison is sort of like lean pork loin, it doesn’t take much to dry it out and make it tough.

    10:09PM-----------IT is dropping again and swinging everywhere. I decide to foil the backstrap to let it coast up to make sure it is done.

    10:10PM-----------IT 179°. I am so confused I just walk away thinking this is going to be ruined.

    10:47PM-----------Ignoring the IT at this point. I have decided my meat thermometer is broken. I unwrap the backstrap and start slicing it up. WOW! It looks almost perfect! It is so moist and juicy! I eat one of the first slices and it is Awesome! So I keep slicing. It gets bloodier and bloodier as I go along. Now I am thinking there is no way it even reached an IT of 145° and I might have just eaten under cooked venison. I have no idea what to do at this point.

    11:09PM-----------I say screw it. Throw it all in the crock pot and cover in BBQ sauce. Pains me so much to do that to such delicious smoked backstrap, but I am concerned about the safety of eating it for my wife who is nursing our first child. The last thing I need is either one of them getting sick. I set it on low and go to bed.

    *Random time in the early morning when the baby wakes up* I think it has been about 4-5 hours later. The whole house smells like glorious BBQ Bambi!!! After taking care of the little man I go check on the Q. When I pull the lid off it smells slightly like it is overcooked and the BBQ sauce might have burnt a smidge. Now I am pained again at the thought of messing the meat up a different way. I grab a fork to check it out and…..it all falls apart and I can’t even stab it to pick it up it’s so tender! I basically just stirred the whole thing and it all pulled itself. I take it all out and put it away in the fridge to stop it from cooking anymore and go back to bed.

    Day 3 Eating:

    We reheated this for supper and I was worried my wife wasn’t going to like it. She isn’t a big fan of smoked meats, and she really isn’t a big fan of deer meat. I can tell it’s not pulled beef, and it tastes slightly overcooked to me. She says it’s really good and that she can’t tell it’s even deer. SUCCESS!!! As long as she is happy I can count this as a decent smoke.

    Questions about my meat thermometer:

    I had received this Maverick Remote Thermometer as a gift from my dad when I was smoking my first backstrap not that long ago. He bought it brand new from Home Depot and it was working fine for that first one. I didn’t know about the boil test at this point in time so I just stuck it under my tongue to test it when I was frustrated with the whole thing. It read a perfect 98.6° I give up! This was only the second time I used it and it was all over the place then right on. Before my next smoke, pulled pork, I replaced all the batteries and it worked flawlessly. Any ideas as to why bad batteries made the IT swing all over the place and be so off?!

    Some pics below of the latter part of the process

    Tried to show the TBS but the lighting is too poor

    Again the lighting is too poor.

    Taking it off because temp is all over the place.

    Looks very dry.

    Holding for a little bit, overcooked?

    Temp dropped so I foiled to try to get it to rise some.

    It rose alright. Way overcooked!!!

    Just kidding! Haha.....it might be under cooked [​IMG]

    Frustration has set in, so it's into the crock pot on low.

    Covered in BBQ sauce.

    Surprising results and a pretty tasty lunch!

    Mmm that looks good.

    Just had to put one more up.

    Thanks for looking!


    My first smoke that I kept good records on!

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It Looks Great, Pogo!![​IMG]

    "All's Well that Ends Well !!!"

    And most important---"When Mama's Happy, Everybody's Happy!!"[​IMG]

    Can't help much on the Maverick, but when my batteries get weak, the Therm is still accurate, but the digits fade out gradually.

    Maybe the plug wasn't in all the way?  Or the joint between the cable & the probe is loose??

  3. 4pogo7

    4pogo7 Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you Bear! Very true!

    As for the thermometer, I never even thought to make sure the connection was tight. When I did pulled pork it was working perfectly, so it may very well have been loose this time. Thanks!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  4. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I would do the ice water and boil water test to ensure it is work right. Then get another thermo as a back up. Even if it is a $10 digital one that takes a minute to read the temp you want to have something as a backup.

    As for being over or under, the sliced pic that you thought was under would be considered over in my house. I eat backstrap at 135-138. Any higher and it just isn't the same. 
  5. 4pogo7

    4pogo7 Smoking Fanatic

    Hey bmaddox, thanks for the advice. I do need to have a back up! Before I smoked a pork butt I tested it and it was working well.

    On the note of over or under, thanks for the information! I have just never had that much blood when slicing up deer that I cook to 145, it was delicious though! And the only reason I cook it to that is because someone told me once that I should treat it like beef and that the USDA says to take it to 145 with a 3 minute rest period. I am fairly new to smoking and safe cooking temps, and with a young one and my wife I try to be safe. With that you can see why I thought it might have been under cooked. Thank you again!!
  6. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I am right there with you about tying to be safe.

    I make sure to freeze my backstrap for at least a month to kill any parasites. I know there is some risk when cooking it to medium rare but since I hunt, clean, process, and cook my own venison I feel pretty confident that it has been properly handled and can be safely cooked to a lower temp. Sometimes I will cook it sous vide which allows me to hold it at 135 long enough to make it 100% safe. Here is a thread on that:

    4pogo7 likes this.
  7. 4pogo7

    4pogo7 Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you very much!!

    I too "hunt, clean, process, and cook my own venison." To me it's the only way to go. That way you know what IS and IS NOT in your meat. Thank you for posting the link!
  8. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I could not agree with this statement more. I used to quarter my deer then take it to a butcher to process but there was never any guarantee that I got back my deer. Last year I finally decided to start doing it all myself, including grinding. It takes a lot of time but it is well worth it. 
  9. 4pogo7

    4pogo7 Smoking Fanatic

    It does take a good amount of time to do it all yourself, but well worth it and it gets easier and faster the more you do it. My uncle got me started in deer hunting and he always processed his own so that is all I have ever done. I even make my own jerky and snack sticks. Speaking of which, it's been awhile since I have done either of those. I need to get out hunting soon! 

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