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Wild game: Smoked inner loins come in “Braising the Wild”

In “Braising the Wild” this week, Jack Hennessy brings Smoked Inner Loins: Just What The Doctor Ordered

Smoked Inner Loins: Just What the Doctor Ordered in “Braising the Wild.” Credit: Jack Hennessy
Smoked Inner Loins: Just What the Doctor Ordered in “Braising the Wild”
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy makes do with Smoked Inner Loins: Just What The Doctor Ordered this week in “Braising the Wild.”

I also found his asides on pop, Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper interesting. As always, you can learn something, this week it would be reverse sear.

Here is the recipe:

SMOKED INNER LOINS: JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

It was our most-recent agency Deer Camp with Brothers & Company when my boss and avid deer hunter John Dunlap was tasked with a critical mission: carve backstraps from clients’ deer and find a way to make them unforgettable for a large audience, many of whom had never tasted venison.

Yet in deep-rural Oklahoma, a long drive from the nearest grocer, he had to make do with what was on hand. His solution: A Dr. Pepper marinade followed by a heavy seasoning of black pepper. Long story short: It was incredible.

A similar maxim applies today: Make do with what we have. In our neck of the woods in Kansas, the folks who used to stock up on pop are now hoarding water, so while it’s hard to find, pop is now at a surplus.

Pop, with its acidic composition, quickly penetrates and denatures proteins. Coca-Cola is a favorite of my mine for slow-cooked pulled pork, but for venison—in this case inner loins—a brief soak in Dr. Pepper followed by a slow smoke is simple, amazing-tasting table fare that everyone will enjoy.

I, like many wild-game cooks, DESPISE the word gamey—as an animal tastes how it should taste unless handled improperly. However, if you’re looking to wow the family, even the ones who use that horrible, terrible “G” word, this recipe will likely make them forget they’re eating wild game.

You’re welcome to use any spice mix you like, but I’ve been enjoying these Bearded Butcher Blends. Lately, while working from home AND tending to our toddler daughter, if I can save time when it comes to seasoning AND make it taste amazing, that is a win-win for me. Also, you can use any hind-quarter cut, backstrap, or inner loin for this recipe. I would not recommend using trim or front shank.

Please note: If you are wanting to reverse sear, which I recommend, pull at 110 degrees internal temp. Depending on your grill or smoker, you may not be able to sear hot and fast, so you’d want to incorporate a hot skillet heated to 400 degrees. There are grills that allow you to adjust smoke temp and sear on the same equipment (an example being Proud Pyro), so you can potentially sear during smoke or at end.

Ingredients (serves two):

Two 6- to 8-ounce inner loins

16 to 32 ounces Dr. Pepper

Your favorite spice mix, or Bearded Butchers Black

Mesquite or hickory wood for smoking

Soak venison in Dr. Pepper for 2 hours.

Remove and coat with choice spice mix, leave in fridge until placing on smoker.

Set smoker to 220 or 240 with hickory or mesquite. Place venison inside smoker.

Once internal temp reads 110 (use meat thermometer to check the middle of the thickest part), sear on high heat, either in a skillet or on a grill.

Remove once all sides are seared, let sit 5 minutes uncovered before carving. (If using a cut larger than an inner loin, you may want to let rest for up to 10 minutes.)