The reason why you should smoke a backstrap within three hours of pulling it from the freezer comes down to more than just convenience. It comes down to science. Hot smoke is attracted to cold, wet meat.
The longer meat creates evaporating moisture, the longer smoke will adhere to it—giving that smoke more time to flavor the meat. In the case of a partially frozen backstrap, moisture will evaporate during the entire smoking process, and the cold, wet surface of the meat will constantly attract smoke particles.
But creating a smokey flavor is only part of the equation when smoking a backstrap. The most important thing to remember is to not overcook the meat. That’s why I suggest using a meat thermometer and pulling your backstrap from the smoker early for a reverse sear.
This gives you more control over the level of doneness and lets the spice rub turn into a perfect caramelized crust. I used Meat Church’s Honey Hog BBQ for this recipe, but any spice rub that incorporates sugar and salt works just fine.
- Thicker half of a deer backstrap, approximately 2-1/4 pounds
- Favorite spice rub, or an ample amount of kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a bit of brown sugar
- Cooking oil spray
Pull two 8- to 10-inch long pieces of backstrap from the freezer and let them sit at room temp for 2-1/2 hours. Once they’re partially thawed, trim away any silver skin or fascia. Rub down the meat with your favorite spice mix and allow it to sit for another half hour to absorb the spices.
At the half-hour mark, add the backstrap pieces directly onto the grates of a smoker or pellet grill set to 160 degrees. Make sure there is ample airflow around all sides of the meat. Insert a meat probe in each backstrap to monitor the internal temperatures. Smoke for a half-hour. Then raise the smoker or pellet grill to 225 and smoke for another hour and 10 minutes or until the internal temp reads 110 degrees.
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Spray each backstrap with cooking oil spray. Add to a cast-iron or mild-steel skillet heated to 600 degrees—or as hot as you can get it. Sear each side for exactly 1 minute for a hearty crust. Remove the backstrap from the pan and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. This should give you a perfectly medium-rare backstrap.