Bone-In Venison Tenderloin
During the months leading up to my visit home in VA, my dad kept insisting that we document his venison recipes for my blog. An avid bow hunter, my dad brought me up eating fresh venison straight from the Virginian suburbs. These deer, as my dad says, are “azalea-fed,” 100% natural, free range, hormone free, and healthier than beef. It tastes light, fresh and is far from gamey.
In true Clary fashion, we went big and documented 4 family recipes throughout the week. This particular recipe is incredibly simple, but the key ingredient is high quality venison. It’s so good that, as pictured below, it is best when accompanied by a good cigar lit by a blowtorch.
We made “Rack of Bambi” the first night of our visit and invited over my dad’s good friend, whose land he made this particular kill on. Making the ribs was a blast from start to finish and my 15 year old spaniels (how are they still alive?!) enjoyed the process as well. Every time my dad preps venison, they are by his side, eagerly awaiting to receive their scrumptious morsels.
Although the recipe is extremely simple, there is a lot of work that goes behind it. When I asked my dad if he would write the actual recipe, he replied that before you begin, you have to:
Wake up at 4am.
Don your warm camouflage.
Climb into your suburban tree stand with your hunting bow.
Wait for hours in stillness and silence.
Spot a worthy buck.
Achieve a quick, clean kill with a single arrow through the heart. (As my dad says, there isn’t enough challenge when you hunt with a gun.)
Recover the deer and field dress where it falls.
Drag it back to your truck with your bare hands.
Take it home.
Butcher it. (Careful butchering is the key to quality venison, and if you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.)
Store your cuts of meat until ready to use. He uses a food saver and a deep freeze.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to go.
If you aren’t hunting and dressing your venison yourself, you must be 100% sure you have the highest quality venison before trying this recipe. I’ve had gamey venison in other people’s kitchens and it is zero fun.
The Benefits of Venison
Venison is low in saturated fat and high in iron and many other nutrients. It’s a great alternative to beef, especially for the environmentally conscious individual. Like lamb, it has a distinct, yet pleasant flavor and can be prepared many different ways. When cooked correctly, it is tender and falls off the bone.
How To Cook Bone In Venison Tenderloin
The Tenderloin is one of the most prized portions of a deer so when you cook it you want to cook it right. That’s why using a thermometer is so important. This ensures you don’t overcook it or burn the outside. Since venison is so low in fat, overcooking will make the end product especially dry.
Cooking times will vary depending on how large your tenderloin is and the efficiency of your grill, so it’s important that you judge when it’s done based on the temperature of the internal thermometer reaching 120 in the thickest part of the meat. After wrapping it in foil and letting it rest for 15minutes it will come up to 130 degrees, the perfect temperature for medium rare venison.
Like all meat, it’s important to bring up to room temperature before cooking. So be sure to plan accordingly if your tenderloin is in the fridge or freezer. After it’s come up to room temperature, season liberally with red meat seasoning of your choice according to the package’s directions. I recommend letting the seasoning do its work for about 30 minutes before cooking the meat, but it’s not an absolute must.
Once your grill is up to temperature, insert an internal thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, place it on indirect heat and cook until the temperature reaches 120 degrees. The best part is that the cooking time is hands-off so you can sit back and enjoy a glass of wine or conversation with friends and family.
Letting the venison rest in foil after cooking is just as important as cooking it to the right temperature on the grill. It lets the cut of meat continue to gently cook and also allows the excess juices to be absorbed back into the meat.
After the meat has rested for 15 minutes, it’s time to carve! Use a sharp knife to cut between the bones, slicing the meat into individual portions of tenderloin. We served this with grilled corn, potato salad, baked beans and greens.
We ate out on the porch and enjoyed the cool summer night with glasses of wine in hand. The best part was knowing the sustainability of eating venison, and not letting a single portion of the deer go to waste.
Bone-In Venison Tenderloin Recipe
You don't have to do much to tenderloin to make it absolutely delicious. This recipe cooks this cut of meat so perfectly—it is incredibly tender and packed with flavor.
ingredients & sUpplies
- External Meat Thermometer
- Red Meat Seasoning of Choice (We used Penzey’s Chicago Steak & Arizona Dreaming)
- Rack(s) of Bone-in Venison Tenderloin
- Remove & discard excess silver skin from the tenderloin.
- Season liberally on both sides with your seasoning of choice.
- Heat grill to 350 degrees using indirect heat. Insert external thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloin.
- Cook on grill until meat reads an internal temperature of 120 degrees.
- Take meat off grill, wrap in tin foil & let sit for 15 minutes.
- Carve & serve immediately.
If your pulling your meat from a fridge or freezer, you want to make sure the meat has fully come to room temperature before putting it on the grill.