My Montana hosts were all amazing – from the farmer’s market loving college students in Bozeman to the beautifully nerdy couple in Missoula who invited me to their annual regional board game and RPG shindig. Unlike the “midwest friendly” folks in Minnesota who smiled through sharpened teeth, folks across Montana made me feel genuinely welcome while eagerly gushing about the best things to see in their cities.
Because I’m a clueless Texan, I drove to Missoula during fire season. Maps tell me I was surrounded by mountains, but the sky was a thick ash grey that felt like breathing smouldering sandpaper. The locals were genuinely astonished by my shock. This has been the “new normal” for over a decade.
Despite the smoke in the sky, when my Missoula hosts generously offered me a locally hunted Moose roast my Texan instincts kicked in. Of course I wanted to smoke that beauty!
Game meats respond incredibly well to low, slow cooking. A long cooking time ensures that what could be a tough cut of meat ends up deliciously tender while the smoking process masks a lot of the gaminess.
Whether you use an oven or a smoker, if you’re blessed with Moose, Elk, Antelope, or Venison, I highly recommend rubbing it down with some tasty spices and cooking it at a mere 200F until the interior temperature reaches 160F for a lovely medium. Yes, it takes awhile – but the results are worth it!
When dealing with game meat I highly recommend a meat thermometer. YoTu’re not dealing with factory fed beef that’s barely moved during it’s life. This entirely organic meat led a good, independent life, which means every animal’s muscle is all different thicknesses and densities. If you try to wing it based on the same hours per pound used with factory raised meat you run the risk of overcooking your rare, expensive roast – and tough game meat is awful. You want to keep it as beautifully pink as the photo so it’s nice and tender.
This method works on any game meat. If you don’t have game meat, you can use this as a template for smoking a big tough cut of beef, like a chuck roast or my personal favorite, an eye of round.
If you’re lucky enough to get ahold of some Moose, here’s a Mousse recipe to go with it, because who can resist a culinary pun?
smoked moose roast Supplies and ingredients
- 3-5 lb game roast
- Butcher’s twine
- Mix of apple, oak, and/or hickory chips for your smoker
- Meat thermometer
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
Smoked Moose Directions
- If your roast isn’t already tied, snuggle it up nice and firm with 1 to 2 pieces of twine tied around its circumference plus 3 to 4 pieces of twine going around the width at 1 to 1 ½-inch
intervals, making a grid pattern with the twine.
- Once your roast is snugly tied up, let it come to room temperature while you prep the smoker and rub.
- Mix all the rub ingredients in a small bowl until they’re evenly combined. If you’d like, you can smear the roast with them the night before and smoke it the next day, but this isn’t mandatory.
- While your spice rubbed roast comes to room temperature, go prep the smoker.
- If you’re using a wood smoker, start soaking your chips at least 30 minutes before you put the meat on the grill. Every time you add new chips, toss a handful in the bowl so they’ll be fully soaked when you add more. Remember, you’re not burning the wood as charcoal – the goal here is beautifully flavored smoke.
- Preheat the wood smoker to 200F.
- When the smoker reaches its temperature, fill the water reservoir and add your soaked wood chips.
- Nestle your spice coated, tied roast on a middle rack in the center of the smoker. If you’re cooking other things, tuck them on the rest of the shelves. (And you should! Toss in a chicken or a bunch of game hens or whatever meat you’ve had lurking in your freezer but weren’t sure what to do with! As long as everything is at least 1-2 inches apart, fill that smoker up!)
- As soon as you put your roast in, toss a small handful (no more than ½ cup) dry wood chips on top of the wet for a fast, sudden infusion of smoke. From here forward you’ll be exclusively using soaked, wet chips. Close the door and promise yourself not to check it. It’s like a crockpot – the more often you open the door, the longer it takes to cook.
- Low and slow is the way to go! This is a Sunday afternoon kind of roast. Once an hour, check your smoker’s thermometer to make sure it’s steady at 200F, check the meat thermometer to make sure nothing wonky is happening with your roast, and add more soaked wood chips to the pan. In an oven
- I generally guesstimate that 200F = 30 min per pound (with a minimum of 3 lbs – smaller than that and things get weird.) I’ve found smokers tend to take a little longer. This is one of the many reasons you should use a meat thermometer. Eyeballing never works as well as science!
- For the first two hours, resist the temptation to open the smoker door! You don’t want your precious smoke or heat to escape! I know I just said that but it deserves its own step.
- When your thermometer reaches 140F you can go ahead and peek. Depending on the size and density of your roast, this should take 3-5 hours. You want to make sure it’s developed a nice dark “bark” on the outside. If it hasn’t, something isn’t right. But honestly, as long as your smoker thermometer is accurate and you’re diligently adding more water and wood chips every hour then you should be delighted by a coal black piece of meat taunting you with
- When your inserted thermometer reaches 140, go ahead and take it out and soak it in a room temperature glass of water so it resets. Then poke it into a totally different part of the meat and wait 15 seconds to see if it comes up to 140. If not, leave the roast in a little longer, checking every 15 minutes. I can’t stress this enough – you don’t want to overcook game meat!
- When your roast reaches 150, remove it from the smoker and wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil. Let it rest for at least half an hour, preferably 60 minutes. This allows the meat to reabsorb the juices. If you cut into it too early they’ll spill all over your plate, leaving you with depressingly tough meat. If you’re cooking for an event, it’s fine to let it rest in the foil for up to 2 hours. There will be some residual cooking while the meat rests.
- If you really want a
well doneroast you can leave it in the smoker until it reaches an internal temp of 170F. I don’t recommend it, but hey, I’m not lurking in your back yard, watching your thermometers. I won’t judge.
- Regardless of when you pull it out and wrap it in foil, let it rest for at least 30 minutes. (60 is better!) When you’re ready to serve your beautiful roast, heft the meat onto a cutting board and open the foil. Use a sharp knife to cut across the grain, so you have beautiful slices. If all goes well you’ll have a lovely bark, a thin smoke ring, and a
beautifullypink interior. Between us, getting that down might take some practice.
Some people love well done meat and bark! Respect them when you cut the roast by slicing an inch and a half off each end of the roast. Those are your “burnt ends!” The texture is totally different from the interior slices, and the smoke flavor is beautifully amplified. Cut into 1 ½ inch cubes and toss them lightly in your favorite barbecue sauce.