Smoking Lean Meat

Jackson Ortega-Scheiner Smoking Leave a Comment

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Hello Dr. BBQ:

I have a question about smoking lean meats like venison. My family lives down south, and can legally take 4 deer each, per year. Dad harvested a doe last weekend, and asked me about smoking the whole deer ham. I know that the meat is very lean, and may not fair well with smoking for long hours. I normally smoke pork butts for 9 hours at 225 degrees, to reach internal of 175 degrees. Don’t know if I can do that with deer, though. Dad’s property is also overrun with large feral hogs, so much that the Game and Fish Commission gave him a huge trap to start catching these hogs. He now catches at least one a week, usually around 350 pounds. They skin the hogs completely, quarter them and freeze them. I live in Colorado, and will visit them for a couple of weeks in January. Dad asked me if I would smoke the hog hams also when I visit. What do you think? Can I smoke lean deer hams and feral hog hams? Help a hungry fella out! Thanks Ray, and love your books. Doug


Hi Doug,

Wild game isn’t my strong suit but I do have a few tips for you. As you know, the deer meat is very lean and won’t act anything like a pork butt. I’ve heard of guys cutting bacon into little triangular shaped spears and then freezing them flat on a sheet pan. Then cut a bunch of slits in the deer and stick the frozen bacon in the slits. It’s a simple way to “lard” the meat with additional fat. After that I’d season the meat and smoke it for an hour or two until it gets a nice color, then wrap it up in foil with a cup or two of beer or wine or stock or juice. If you like add some onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and whatever else is around too. A big foil pan will work too. Then just cook it until it gives up. This should keep it from getting dry. As for the hogs, well that’s a pretty big hog and I’d imagine it’s gonna taste pretty gamey. It’s also gonna be pretty lean so I think I’d try the same procedure as above. I always keep a bottle of teriyaki sauce around and if it tastes real strong I pour the teriyaki on it to sort of mask the flavor.



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