There is no denying that a slow-smoked backstrap is one of the tastiest meals on the planet. Slow smoking at low temperatures, say between 180 and 200 degrees, allows the backstrap to cook evenly all the way through with tons of smoke flavor without overcooking the outer surface. The SuperSmoke function on the Traeger grill is perfect for this style of cooking, maintaining a low, even temperature with lots of wood smoke.
But just like a good steak, a properly cooked backstrap needs some heat to caramelize the surface of the meat and add another layer of flavor. To get both, use a method called reverse searing. Instead of applying high heat to the meat at the beginning of the cooking process, reverse searing slowly cooks the meat to almost the desired finished doneness level. Once the meat has been removed from the grill and rested a few minutes, sear it for just a minute or so per side in a super hot skillet, giving the meat’s surface a nice seared crust.
I prefer to do my reverse searing outdoors over a gas burner. To really do the method justice, the cast iron needs to be hot enough to cause a ton of smoke when the meat hits it. Unless you have a commercial-grade hood above the range in your kitchen, this can cause problems indoors.
For even more flavor, we coat the exterior of the backstrap with a steakhouse-style rub before cooking. The brown sugar helps to caramelize the surface of the backstrap on the cast iron. After you have seared the meat, give it a few minutes to rest, then slice across the grain into perfect medium-rare medallions.
2-pound section of venison backstrap
2 tablespoons of a high smoke point cooking oil like grapeseed or peanut
Steakhouse-Style Spice Rub
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Start by trimming away any fat or silver skin from the backstrap. Mix the spice rub ingredients. Sprinkle the spice rub evenly over all surfaces of the backstrap. Let the meat rest while you heat your Traeger grill to 200 degrees with the SuperSmoke function turned on.
Place the seasoned backstrap on the grill and cook until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees. Using a premium remote thermometer like one from the Meater brand allows you to keep an eye on the temperature without repeatedly lifting the lid on your grill, releasing the smoke and heat.
Once the backstrap has hit the desired temperature, move it to a warm platter and tent with foil. Place a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of a high smoke point cooking oil like grapeseed or peanut oil. Swirl the pan around to spread the oil.
Once the oil begins to smoke, put the backstrap in the skillet. Allow the backstrap to cook for 1 minute without moving it. Flip the backstrap and repeat the process on the opposite side. If your backstrap is thick, repeat the process on the sides of the meat. Return the backstrap to the platter and loosely tent with foil again. Allow the meat to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing.
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