I'm always looking for new ways to marinate wild game for recipes that you can use in the same day. There are absolutely bunches of great marinades out there, but typically they require an overnight time-frame before really influencing the taste. With the hot temperatures making it feel like the middle of July already, I felt inspired to twist a ceviche recipe into a venison tenderloin marinade. This is an easy one for a quick ranch lunch that will take your taco game to the next level.
Step one to making outstanding tacos is starting with a good clean piece of venison, with all of the silver skin trimmed off. What might not seem like a big deal on the cutting board, will take away from the tenderness of the whole dish later on. Let's face it, no one wants to pick apart their lunch because you skipped the 5 minute task of trimming everything.
The marinade for this recipe isn't meant to mask the taste of the meat. Instead, it's there to help highlight everything and make it more tender. In a bowl, mix together the smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, olive oil, lime juice and tequila. Give it a good mix until everything in incorporated, then pour over the venison in a sealable bag. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
At this point, all that is left is literally cooking the rest of the recipe, which takes less than 30 minutes. Once you're ready to start firing up your grill(my grill had good lump charcoal mixed with some Texas post oak for flavor), take the venison out of the cooler and let it rest at room temperature until you grill. With most red meats, having it start near room temperature will allow for a much more even cook vs. throwing it right onto the grill from the fridge. Despite this recipe being pretty simple, it's still critical to have everything prepped ahead of time because it will start to go quickly once things hit the heat. Cut a yellow onion in half, split and seed a jalapeno and husk an ear of corn. Once your grill is holding steady around 450F, season all of the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once seasoned, place the veggies to the grill and if possible, have the corn in a zone that gets less flame. Grill until all are charred nicely. The onion will take longest because of its density, but don't worry about leaving it on for a little while. The outside will be charred, while the inside is nice and tender. Remove all from the grill and set aside to cool.
Remove the marinated venison from the bag and season the outside with course black pepper, this will help achieve a beautiful crust in the end. Grill to your liking, personally, that's rare for me, but because of the marinade and the lime, even medium will still be delicious on this lean piece of meat.
Once the tenderloin is cooked, remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. While resting, it's time to put together the salsa. Fine dice the jalapeno and dice the onion. Word of advice, the onion will be super soft, so it might be easier to dice in sections vs. the entire onion. Remove the corn from the cob and add all three veggies to a small mixing bowl. Add the juice of 1 lime, 1 good tablespoon of good olive oil, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder-- give it a good mix and set aside.
Now, I'm not going to get myself in the middle of a tortilla debate( corn or flour?!), but now would be the best time to throw them on the grill, while still hot for no more than 1 minute. They'll get a little char and will soften up nicely.
Slice the venison on a bias and place on the taco, top with the corn salsa and add hot sauce and/or your other favorite taco condiments. Green onions are great on top for a great fresh flavor.
Enjoy with a big glass of tea or an ice cold beer.
1 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup of tequila (Altos works really nicely)
1 tablespoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 pound of venison tenderloin, trimmed, portioned for equal grilling
CORN SALSA INGREDIENTS:
1 ear of corn, without the husk
1/2 of a yellow onion, peeled
1/2 of a large jalapendo
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour or corn torillas
Green onions for garnish, rough chopped