A Venison Backstrap Recipe Anyone Can Do at Home
If you’re not a hunter, it might be tough to believe that wild game could be just as good (or better in most cases) than the best cut you could find at a fancy steakhouse. But it’s absolutely true. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a more tender, quality venison cut than backstrap. Some people call them backstraps, others call them loins, and even others call them chops – but whatever you call them, they’re just plain delicious. Backstraps are the large, lean muscles that run along both sides of the spine on top of the ribcage. Here’s the simplest venison backstrap recipe that you can use as is or adapt to your own liking. We’re confident that you will love the result.
Benefits of Wild Game
We sure love sitting in a tree stand during deer hunting season, but there’s something really special about eating wild game after you’ve killed it. Some people will complain that wild game is too “wild” or “gamey” tasting for them. To that, we say: they probably ate wild game that wasn’t cooked properly. If you take time to prepare venison, duck, grouse, bear, etc. the right way and cook it with the right methods (as we do with this venison backstrap recipe), you can have a moist, tender, and flavorful meal. Venison is no exception.
- Venison is an extremely lean protein, meaning there is very little fat within it. This makes it a very healthy meal when served along with some grilled vegetables. When preparing venison, you should always get rid of the white, waxy tallow fat, as that is often the culprit when people taste “gamey” flavors. It’s just not appetizing like beef or pork fat is. The sinewy silver skin isn’t good for grilled venison, but it is perfect and necessary for some stewed venison recipes. So when you’re butchering a deer, make sure to really trim and clean up the high-quality grilled cuts (like for this venison backstrap recipe) and leave some of the silver skin on the low/slow type cuts.
- While venison is very easy to cook, you need to use the right methods for different cuts of meat. For example, a venison backstrap or tenderloin should be cooked on a very hot surface for a short amount of time just until it is rare or medium rare. Cooking it at a lower temperature and for longer will produce tough, dry meat that’s not very enticing. On the other hand, shank meat is some of the toughest and sinewy muscles on a deer. But when you cook it really low and slow, it shreds apart easily and is perfect in a stew. Disappointment with wild game recipes often comes when the cuts are confused with the cooking methods.
- Of course, one of the biggest benefits of cooking wild game is that venison is readily accessible across a good chunk of this country. From whitetails, mule deer, and blacktails all the way to elk, caribou, and moose, there are many different types of deer species in North America, and thus, there are many different types of venison. It’s a renewable resource that any hunter has access to. No grocery store trips are required – just an exciting hunt in the great outdoors.
Venison Backstrap Recipes
Now that you know why we love venison so much, here is the simplest venison backstrap recipe you can find. And yet, it produces such top-notch table fare, it just blows our minds.
- After trimming all the sinew and fat off the backstrap, you can place it in a bowl of ice water with a little salt as well. This will help pull some of the blood out of the meat, but it also brines it a little to help retain more moisture. This step is totally optional, but it does make the meat a little more forgiving if you lose track of grilling time.
- Get a grill going until there is a nice, hot bed of coals. Charcoal works great, but if you have access to some good oak or mesquite wood, it will add some great flavor to the meat too. Hooray open fire grills are perfect for this venison backstrap recipe for that reason.
- Cut the backstrap into steaks at the thickness you prefer. Some people like thinner steaks, and some people prefer thicker ones. It’s up to you. But ½” to 1” thickness is a good guideline. Alternatively, you could leave a backstrap chunk whole for the grill too, which reduces the amount of fiddling you have to do with individual steaks.
- Importantly, this venison backstrap recipe does not include a marinade. There is no need to marinate most wild game, though most people assume that’s the only way to cook it. We’re not saying it’s bad or that we don’t like marinades – it’s just not required for this recipe. Simply rub the steaks or backstrap chunks with olive oil (remember how lean it is) and liberally sprinkle some salt and pepper on it. Or as Michael mentions in the video, add some Montreal steak seasoning for that perfect steakhouse flavor profile.
- Sear the steaks quickly over a hot grill. For thinner steaks (1/2”), you will likely only leave them there for a minute or two before you flip them. Pull them off and serve them when rare or medium rare. The result is a fork-tender steak that is moist and flavorful. This venison backstrap recipe is the perfect way to celebrate sourcing your own wild protein from a deer hunt.
As you can see, cooking venison (or other wild game meat) doesn’t have to be a complicated process. You don’t need a bunch of fancy or expensive ingredients or a lot of time to make a memorable meal that your family and friends will love. And that’s part of the beauty of this venison backstrap recipe. Honestly, you could be enjoying this meal over a fire at camp within an hour of releasing an arrow at a deer. That’s not quite fast food, but we promise the end product will be far superior and more meaningful to you.