“If you’re gonna have a football tailgate, you gotta do it right”, says hunting and grilling expert Michael Waddell. In this Backyard Life video, Michael’s manning a mighty looking grill and—from the sound of the meat sizzling—it’s obvious he knows a thing or two about game day grilling tips. He starts with a few tips on fuel.
Fueling the Fire
So, what’s Michael’s first grilling tip? Picking the right mix of wood to max out your flavor. His personal favorite is a blend of pecan wood, apple wood and charcoal.
Serve Up Variety
Michael’s next game day grilling tip is all about the food, namely focusing on variety. “You want to create a smorgasbord,” he says. Picking a wide range of proteins will ensure there’s something for everyone, and that no one goes hungry. Covering all the basics also gives you the chance to get creative and offer some tasty surprises. He recommends always being fully stocked with classics like beef burgers and bratwurst for kids, then balancing that with something more adventurous like bacon-wrapped backstrap, wild turkey nuggets and venison. No one at your tailgate eats game? Well, his grilling tips and recipes will even convert non-believers.
Michael’s favorite venison recipe is what he calls “cube steak roll-ups,” and he swears “anyone who said they would never eat deer will eat it.” To make them, he marinates venison cube steak in Italian dressing overnight. From there, he layers on strips of onion, cream cheese, pickled jalapeños, then rolls the whole thing up with some bacon and throws it on the grill over high heat until the bacon is nice and crispy. Michael’s happy to share his venison grilling tips, too.
Venison Grilling Tips
Michael says the biggest mistake people make with game meat is overcooking it, as it tastes best when served rare to medium-rare. “Overcooking is when you run into that kind of gamey taste,” he explains.
There’s one more game day grilling tip Waddell says any grillmaster can use: “Wait until everyone’s hungry before you grill.” He laughs, “some can be a little overdone or a little rare . . . If they’re real hungry, they’re not going to complain.”
Make Michael Waddell’s Great Game Day Recipe—Venison Roll-Ups—at Home
Ingredients (Scale up or down depending on your tailgate size):
- Cube Steak (Venison or Elk)
- Italian Dressing
- Cream cheese
Pre-Game: A day prior, marinate cube steak in Italian dressing overnight. Store in fridge or cooler until it’s time to grill.
Game Day: Lay cube steak pieces flat. Cut the onion into strips (they can be as thick or thin as you want). Place 1-2 onion slices on top of the cube steak. Add a dollop of cream cheese onto the onion. Layer on pickled jalapeños (as many as you want!). Roll the cube steak up over the layered toppings. Wrap the roll in a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Grill on high until the bacon is cooked through and crispy, and the venison is medium-rare.