Venison: How to do inner loins right in “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy tells how to do venison inner loins right in “Braising the Wild.”

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Venison inner loins.

Venison inner loins.

Jack Hennessy

Deer season ended, but the eating goes on.

Jack Hennessy tells how to do the cooking better this week in “Braising the Wild.” In particular, he takes on inner loins. As usual, there are tidbits of wild-game cooking embedded.

Here is “Braising the Wild” for this week:

ON THE SUBJECT OF INNER LOINS It was on a Facebook hunting forum—which shall remain nameless—where one member solicited venison inner-loin recipes from the group. In return, he received what could be described as nothing other than god-awful advice, the worst perhaps being soak in Worcestershire sauce overnight, pat-dry and grill. I threw in the towel years ago when it comes to influencing anyone’s opinion on social media and if one enjoys Worcestershire-marinated venison, I am not one to judge, but it’s not the proper advice to give someone new to the wild-game cooking. Nevertheless, from this online culinary bedlam came inspiration for this article. And I know deer season is a couple hundred days away or so, but perhaps you still have some inner loins sitting in your freezer, or, at the very least, you’ll know what to do when you punch your tag this fall. BRINGING TO ROOM TEMP Unless you’re planning to smoke your inner loins, I recommend pulling the meat (fully thawed) from the fridge and letting it come to room temp for 30 minutes or longer. During this time, I also like to liberally salt and pepper all sides, allowing that flavor to soak in ahead of cooking. Meat at room temp will cook more evenly. SEASONING Don’t over-salt, but certainly don’t under-salt, and use kosher salt, not table salt, along with fresh ground black pepper, if possible. Or use your favorite seasoning or marinade to coat your inner loins. Just don’t’ soak in only Worcestershire sauce for Pete’s sake. SMOKING If smoking your inner loins, put them in the smoker straight from the fridge, as colder meat will have more time to absorb that delicious smoky flavor before hitting medium rare. REVERSE SEAR Perhaps one for the greatest techniques for venison or any steak cut thicker than 1 inch is the reverse sear. According to food scientists, searing meat does not seal in juices, so there is no real reason to sear before indirectly cooking. However, searing caramelizes the skin, builds a delicious crust and overall just improves flavor, so it’s a step we don’t want to skip. In addition, it’s a known fact that low heat cooks meat more evenly versus high heat on the exterior. Confession: I often grill my inner loins in a piping-hot skillet and remove when center is near medium rare. However, when doing so, there is a gray, closer-to-well-done layer surrounding that perfect pink center. NOT SO with the reverse sear method. By cooking low and slow, the entire chunk of venison loin comes close to medium rare at an even pace and then is seared for that ideal crust. How it works: Place inner loins in 225-degree oven and check internal temp every 20 minutes or sooner, depending on size of inner loin. Remove once center is 110 and quickly sear all sides in a VERY hot skillet to get that whiskey-color delicious crust. Let rest 5 minutes before carving (do not cover). Benefits: Easier to hit the desired internal temperature with low-and-slow temperature cooking, and you’ll see a far-more uniform pink color in your meat, which equates to a more juicy, tender, amazing-tasting cut of venison.

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