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Venison Backstrap: An Ode to Our Favorite Cut

Venison Backstrap

Venison backstrap: we'll cover what it is, how to extract it, and how to cook the most mouth watering piece of venison there is.

As hunters, we pride ourselves on also being decent wild game cooks. Most of us already understand what the back loin is on a deer. Pure bliss, that's what.

But before we get too far, let's make sure we're on the same page as far as terminology.

For our sake, venison backstrap refers to the length of loin along the back of a deer on both sides of the spinal column. It's the ribeye in beef, the loin in pork, and when it's cut into steaks on a deer, some often call it the chops.

The difference is that many wild game connoisseurs refer to the loins as the two smaller strips of very tender meat underneath the loin, just behind the ribs. Some whitetail hunters use the term "tenderloins" to describe this part, and others use it to refer to the backstrap. It gets a little confusing, and the same varied term usage is also true for other game animals like mule deer, moose, elk, and antelope.

True tenderloins, as we're going to reference them, are those found inside the body cavity, and are quite a bit smaller than the actual backstraps. The main way to reach the tenderloins is to field dress the deer and then cut them out afterwards. The backstraps, on the other hand, can be accessed using the gutless method.

Backstraps take the trophy in our book. Anyone who's seared the filet mignon of venison steaks from room temperature to perfect doneness knows what we're talking about. We love to use our favorite marinade and grilling technique, maybe a cast iron skillet and some kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and olive oil. It's hard to forget the first time you enjoyed this delicious deer meat. It's the ultimate reward.

You may have guessed by now. We absolutely love to cook and eat venison backstraps.

Removing the Venison Backstrap

With the right tools and some initial help you can make this a fairly easy project that shouldn't take too long. But, mistakes can happen, meat can be spoiled, and serious injury can occur if you let your guard down.

Don't let that scare you; with proper care and a good sharp knife, you and anyone else can extract the straps. In most cases you can use any good hunting knife, but actually a filet knife works really well to get at backstraps. If you have never tried using one, consider it.

After skinning the deer, it's a simple enough procedure to cut along the spine, from the base of the neck down to bottom of that main muscle Let the knife feel the bone to get a close cut, wasting as little of the meat as possible. In fact, you can sometimes hear the knife ticking on the the spine as you pass it. 

Reach up towards the buttocks, or the ham, and cut crosswise to operate it from the hindquarter. By then you can practically pull it away from the spine and towards the rib cage, but continue to use your knife to keep a clean cut.

Some butchers will ask a client of they would like their backstrap whole or cut into chops. There are several good reasons and excellent recipes dealing with both, and we'll discuss a few as we highlight the best ways to prepare and eat backstrap.

Whole Venison Backstrap Recipes

We try to take care making the transition from hunter to cook, so that we don't try to overdue something that can be so easy to make and enjoy.

Having said that, there are those out there who have specialized in giving us some of the most mouth watering, tasty, and outrageous ways to make this insanely good cut of meat even better.

Don't forget to get an instant read thermometer to cover your bases, and to aim for the perfect sear!

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Venison Backstrap

This is a killer back loin recipe using two whole backstraps and some other ingredients that will have you making this list for the grocery store. There's a good amount of prep time, but end result is worth it.

  • 1-2 Whole Venison Backstraps (loin)
  • 8oz Cream Cheese
  • 8oz Baby Portabella Mushrooms chopped
  • ¼ cup Crumbled Bacon (about 6 slices) 
  • 1 small Yellow Onion diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings
  • ½ cup Flat leaf Parsley chopped
  • 2lbs Bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons Killer Hogs AP Rub
  • 2 Tablespoons Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub

Certainly you could use the rub of your choice, but if you could get your hands on these particular brands, then by all means do it. Again, BBQ specialist Malcom Reed tells us that, "Then it gets stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, bacon, mushrooms, onion, and parsley.  The whole thing gets wrapped in bacon to hold it together and to add a little fat because deer is incredibly lean meat."

Venison Chops Recipes

Remember, the chops are the backstrap when it has been cut into medallions. These medallions can be grilled, sautéed, seared, smoked, or cooked over an open fire to the perfect internal temperature. Just watch your cook time and don't overdo it.

This next recipe is made to order for the good old cast iron skillet.

Belgian Venison Tenderloin Medallions

Belgian style venison medallions, with a gin-juniper sauce. This is an old recipe from the 1800s I've updated here. Enjoy! http://honest-food.net/2012/02/15/venison-medallions-with-gin-and-juniper/

Posted by Hunter Angler Gardener Cook on Sunday, October 27, 2013

Here are the necessary ingredients to get you going on this delicious recipe:

  • 1 pound venison backstrap or loin medallions
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 shot of gin (did you know that gin is made with juniper berries?)
  • 1/4 cup demi-glace or reduced beef or venison stock
  • 1 teaspoon ground juniper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

To see the rest of this recipe to its fruition, you can follow this link.

Why We Love Backstrap

It seems like it should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway. Whatever you call it: backstrap, backloin, tenderloin, or venison loin, it is easily the most tender and succulent piece of meat from our favorite wild game animal.

The backstrap is easy to get, easy to prepare and cook, and some of the best eating that you can find when it comes to wild game. Add a glass of red wine or a cold beer, and you've got yourself a masterpiece.

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NEXT: SEARED VENISON HEART WITH WHISKEY BUTTER RECIPE

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Venison Backstrap: An Ode to Our Favorite Cut