For years, I kept my game off the grill. Trying to cook an elk steak the way I grew up grilling a beef T-bone never yielded good results.Once I started plank cooking, the grill started staying out year-round and everything went on it.
Because planks help keep moisture in fish and game meat, they fix the problem of lean meat drying out and either tasting like shoe leather or falling through the grill. Planks also keep the grill clean and make a great serving platter/cutting board.
When we still wanted to perfect grilled venison steaks and backstrap, practice eventually made perfect. There are only a few guidelines to follow when grilling lean game meats such as elk, deer, antelope and turkey.
Tips for grilling game
1. For steaks, slice meat thinly (half an inch) across the grain if grilling backstrap or tenderloin. Pound and/or tenderize other meat cuts into steak-size portions. For whole backstraps, simply cut to a manageable size and trim off any silverskin.
2. Marinate meat in an oil-based marinade. One of the most convenient is Italian dressing (do not use low- or no-fat dressings).
3. Keep salt to a minimum, as it can make meat tough. Try a sprinkling of sea salt while meat is grilling.
4. Keep grates well lubricated. Use an oil-soaked paper towel held by tongs to wipe grates down right before placing the meat.
5. Let meat reach room temperature before grilling. Cold meat sticks to grill grates and contracts and becomes tough.
6. Grill the meat hot and fast. Get grill temperature to at least 400 degrees, grill the first side only until grill marks appear and then turn meat with tongs. By the time the last of the meat is flipped, the first ones you flipped will be done. For backstrap, move the meat as needed to keep heat even.
7. Do not overcook. It is safe to eat most red meat rare – bear, boar and cougar being the exception. Cook backstrap to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.