I have always liked to shares recipes for foods that deliver the “Wow” factor and are not foods that you eat regularly. One of the best gems I have found is Venison backstrap. You can think of backstrap as the “other” type of red meat that’s often overlooked. Similar to beef in flavor and texture, venison backstrap recipes abound if you look for them directly.
Unfortunately, most people don’t consider venison in the same league as beef, but more and more chefs are discovering its appeal. According to EatThis.com, the top 10 food trends in 2019 include eating new cuts of meat and consuming foods that are hyper local.  You can’t get more local than hunting game and preparing the food you hunt.
So, in today's article, I have shared everything you need to know to make venison backstrap at home, including the meat selection process, brining, cooking and a few useful tips to have in mind.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Venison Backstrap?
- 2 How to Brine Venison Backstrap for Cooking
- 3 Recipe for Venison Backstrap with Dried Cherry Reduction
- 4 Recommended Dry Rub and Dried Cherry Reduction Ingredients
- 5 Serving and Recommended Side Dishes
- 6 Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad
- 7 Tips for Cooking Venison Backstrap
- 8 Final Thoughts
What is Venison Backstrap?
Backstrap is part of the deer loin near the back. Along with tenderloin, the cut ranks as one of the two most prized cuts of venison. In beef, the tenderloin is filet mignon. Backstrap is the same cut as ribeye in beef preparation.
Venison tenderloin has almost no “gamey” taste, and backstrap has a similar flavor to beef without the gamey flavor. If you want to ensure that a gamey flavor won’t ruin your recipe, knowing how the deer was prepared could be critical. Proper field dressing is the best way to eliminate gamey flavor, but if you don’t know how the backstrap was prepared, you can compensate.
How to Brine Venison Backstrap for Cooking
Since venison backstrap is usually seasonal, it is crucial to know how to prepare it before cooking, so you eliminate any odd flavor and have the best results.
One of the most common ways to do this is soaking the backstrap in milk. This method should eliminate any lingering gamey flavor if your backstrap came from less-than-ideal-timing field dressing conditions. Brining the backstrap is a classic method of using salted and spiced water, known as brine, to flavor the meat and remove any gamey flavor. According to DeerAndDeerHunting.com, the following recipe for brine works well for backstrap: 
Venison Backstrap Simple Brine Recipe
Simply bring all the upper mentioned ingredients to boil to dissolve the salt. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator or freezer, or you can add ice cubes to chill the brine more rapidly. Soak the meat for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. Rinse the meat, pat dry and proceed with your favorite backstrap recipe.
Recipe for Venison Backstrap with Dried Cherry Reduction
Many chefs don’t know how to handle game meat, but simplicity is best when cooking flavorful venison backstrap. Many experts consider backstrap to be the finest cut of meat in the world. Great chefs all over the world use similar techniques when preparing game, and the best ways to prepare backstrap include using a dry rub to enhance flavors and cooking the meat as quickly and simply as possible.
The recipe below is my recommended way to cook venison backstrap. You can find the selection, brining and cooking process below. Also, I have included a full dry-rub recipe in the next section.
Selecting the Best Venison Backstrap Cut
You can brine the meat or soak it in milk if you’re unsure whether it was properly dressed in the field. Remove the backstrap from the soak, rinse and pat dry. Rub the backstrap with your favorite dry rub to enhance the flavor.
It’s best to choose a backstrap close to 3 pounds, and cut a 6-inch to 10-inch piece. You can cut the meat into smaller pieces if your pans won’t accommodate the whole backstrap but the upper mentioned cuts would give the best results, no matter what cooking method you use.
Best Way to Cook Venison Backstrap
We recommend searing the meat on top of the stove and finishing off the cooking process in the oven but you can also cook the backstrap on the grill or smoker.
In either case, using a trusty meat thermometer is critical for cooking the backstrap to your preferred level of doneness. Grilling over wood or charcoal adds pleasing flavor, but the accuracy of heat on a propane grill might make using one a better choice.
If smoking the backstrap, you need to use a reverse sear. Smoke the meat to about 5 degrees less than the desired temperature. Remove the meat from the smoker, and sear it on the grill or top of the stop to produce grill marks or a golden caramelized crust.
- Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Make Smoked Venison Meat
Sous vide is a fancy technique that is actually a simple cooking process -- heating the meat in enclosed bags in hot but not simmering water. The slow heating process produces fork-tender results, but we’re a little leery of the process when cooking meat because there’s no sear or caramelization.
Note: If you plan to make a sauce from the drippings, it’s best to use a stainless steel pan that doesn’t transfer unwanted flavors. Cast iron, which is ideal for searing, can produce strange flavors when used to make a pan sauce. Regardless of your pan choice, it’s critical to get it piping hot to ensure a proper sear.
How Long to Cook Venison Backstrap Meat
If you use a thermometer, and you should, you should cook the backstrap until the thermometer registers the following temperatures:
Recommended Internal Temp
Cold Red Center; Soft
Warm Red Center; Firmer
Pink and Firm
Small Amount of Pink in Center
Gray-Brown throughout; Firm
You want to account for a slight rise in temperature as the meat rests once you stop the cooking process. Test the meat by inserting the thermometer halfway through the thickest part of the meat in the center. Rest the meat at least 15 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to resettle throughout the meat.
The meat can be finished by drizzling extra virgin olive oil over the medallions or adding a bit of butter.
Recommended Dry Rub and Dried Cherry Reduction Ingredients
The ingredients for an appropriate dry rub that yields approximately 3/4 Cup of Rub include:
Directions: Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and cover tightly in a container or store in a plastic bag.
Dried Cherry Reduction Recipe
The ingredients for the Dried Cherry Reduction include:
Directions: Deglaze the pan used to sear the meat with wine, and add the stock and dried cherries. Whisk in the brown sugar and spices and continue to hydrate the cherries and reduce the sauce until it thickens slightly. Whisk in the butter in small pieces to smooth and thicken the sauce.
Serving and Recommended Side Dishes
We like roasted round potatoes, baked with a balsamic glaze, as a simple but elegant accompaniment to the backstrap.
We recommend cutting several medallions of venison against the grain and propping them up for presentation. Spoon some of the sauce onto the plate, and garnish with whatever’s colorful and handy.
The venison medallions should be served with sauce on the side, the roasted red potatoes and a spicy arugula and shaved fennel salad. You can find the recipe below.
Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad
Peppery arugula and shaved fennel salad is the perfect accompaniment to Venison Backstrap with Dried Cherry Reduction. The ingredients for 4 servings of the salad include:
Toss the salad to mix the ingredients, and then mix the dressing fresh. The recommended ingredients for the dressing include:
Mix the dressing ingredients, and drizzle the dressing over the salad. You can substitute your favorite dressing in place of the dressing above.
Tips for Cooking Venison Backstrap
You can substitute ingredients pretty freely in this recipe without affecting the final taste, which mostly depends on the quality of the backstrap and the simplicity of the cooking process. A 6-inch to 10-inch section of backstrap should serve 4-6 people generously.
Venison backstrap doesn’t need a big introduction to those who’ve tasted it, but many people haven’t had the pleasure. We hope that our recipe will change some minds about venison in general and backstrap in particular.