Venison is a delicacy enjoyed by hunters and their friends and family and it is important to learn to prepare venison correctly so you can experience the true delicacy it is. A great cook and restaurant owner in Alaska once told me that too many people over prepare their venison and she proved to me how great venison, as well as other wild game, can taste with simple recipes. This allows you to enjoy the unique flavor of the venison instead of trying to cover it up. This recipe is one that capitalizes on that simplicity and is one that I save for the backstrap and its tender qualities.
There is a couple of ways to cook this recipe and either one is great. The first is to cook whole or a large portion of your backstrap by searing then finishing in the oven or on the grill.
Another option is to slice your backstrap into medallions and cook them in a skillet until medium rare to medium, you never want to overcook venison. For those that don’t like to see red in their meat cook it to medium to just where the red is gone and they won’t know it isn’t well done and they will actually brag on your venison instead of spreading the misconception that venison is tough and tasteless. Well done works with beef because of the fat in the beef but venison is a very lean meat and once you remove all of the moisture it turns to leather.
The dry rub is the great part to this recipe and it can be one of the many great rubs on the market or you can make your own. Making your own dry rub is simple and allows you to create a rub you really like. A great way to fine tune your rub is to make up two or three rubs adding or subtracting ingredients from each one. Use the rubs on a few different cuts and sample them the first time you prepare this dish. By doing this you can narrow down your rubs to the perfect blend and one you can enjoy from now on. Once you have the perfect rub you can store it in a ziplock in the freezer so it’s handy the next time you want some backstrap for dinner. Here is a great recipe for a great dry rub to get you started.
Dry Rub Recipe
4 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1-3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano
6 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup paprika
NOTE:Let your brown sugar dry out a little before adding to the mix by spreading it out on a plate. It doesn’t take long but there is a little moisture in brown sugar and it can cause clumping if you don’t dry it a little.
Rub Your Backstrap: Rubbing the meat with dry rub means just what it says, rub. Do not roll the meat in the rub like dredging fish fillets. It is important to actually rub the mix into the meat with your hands. You can use rubber gloves if you like but you have to use your fingers to push the rub into the meat allowing it to adhere with the moisture in the meat. Set the meat aside for a few minutes then rub again. This coats the meat very well with the rub.
Cooking Whole or Portion: Melt some butter and a little olive oil in a skillet and add your dry rubbed backstrap. Cook it hot and fast, turning with tongs until the rub is seared into the meat. Remove the seared backstrap and place on a broiler for the oven. Place the broiler into a 450 degree preheated oven and cook for 4 to 5 minutes this should do it for a medium rare unless you have a really thick backstrap that come from those mature bucks or does. In this case add a couple of minutes to your oven or grill time.
Cooking your venison this way really leaves you with a perfect blend of seasoning and venison flavor throughout the backstrap and protects the tenderness inside from the drying heat. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing. The sliced backstrap can be served on top of some garlic mashed potatoes or with some blue cheese crumbles on top or both.
Cooking as Medallions: Slicing your backstraps into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick medallions does two things. First by covering all sides of the medallion with your rub you get much more of the spice flavor in relation to the portion. Second you can cook your dry rubbed backstrap to a medium rare doneness without the red showing because you cook the medallions on all sides. What is the benefit to this you ask? Well when you have members of your family or friends that cannot eat rare meat you can get these medallions by them and as mentioned previously they will brag on the flavor and tenderness of your venison instead of the opposite. I have convinced many people over the years to try my venison. These people flat refused to eat venison due to past experiences with, I’m guessing, overcooked venison. After eating medium rare venison they were sold on deer being delicious and was sure to let everyone know.
If you choose the medallions for your dry rubbed backstrap you just cook in the butter and olive oil mixture in a skillet. Just flip the medallions with a fork and keep them sizzling good while they cook but not hot enough to burn the oil and butter. One minute on each side will do for medium rare but a little longer will cook your medallions just enough to eliminate any sign of red or pink for those that prefer well done. ENJOY.