Road to Plate

Deer roast on grill

A smoked deer roast.

One of the givens of roadkill is the difference in fieldcare compared to what might be called an “intentionally harvested” animal. After a gunshot, my priorities in dressing an animal are to remove the skin and cool the meat, minimizing any gamey flavor and ensuring tender cuts. A roadkill carcass, however, can lay for some time before it’s reduced to freezer packages. To make up for the lack of meat care, smoking is an excellent method to soothe offenses to the palate or nose. With the right tools, it is simple and easy. The only real drawback is the time required. Low, slow, indirect heat breaks down connective tissue, resulting in the tenderest of bites. A few hours in a smoker will cure nearly any shortcomings a “bonus deer” might have.

Larger roasts work best and give time for the smoke flavor to penetrate without drying out too quickly. Virtually any dry rub used for beef works well. I prefer sage, thyme, and rosemary for a savory essence. If a glaze or gravy is to be added later, simple black pepper and kosher salt liberally sprinkled is my preferred approach. A remote probe thermometer will save you countless trips to check on your roast. And, as the best barbecue masters will tell you, “If you’re lookin’, it ain’t cookin’”. A thermometer will also keep you from overcooking your roast—the cardinal sin in wild game. For a rare roast, cook to 125 degrees. But should you leave it on, don’t go much past 135. “Carryover” will happen when the meat’s taken off, meaning the temperature will continue to rise after you remove it from direct heat.

Large roast (about 3lbs), trimmed
Fresh cracked black pepper
Kosher salt

1. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees.

2. Remove roast from the refrigerator one hour prior to smoking. Closely trim any silverskin and fat. Rinse and pat dry.

3. Liberally apply black pepper and salt to taste, or other preferred spices.

4. Smoke for 2-2.5 hours, or until internal temperature hits 125 degrees.5. Remove and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Then slice against the grain and serve.

Wild game deer roast

For smoking wild game, I prefer apple and cherry woods. And when serving the roast, I typically opt for butter-herb fresh green beans and maple-glazed butternut squash.

Everett lives in the Bitterroot with his Chessie Cane and peregrine Freyja. He balances his time between writing something worth reading and doing something worth writing.