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Jan 31, 2010 11:22 AM

Best way to cook venison backstrap?

My hunter friend gave me a venison backstrap that is thawing right now. If I understand correctly, this is the NY Strip equivalent on a deer. If it was a beef NY Strip, I'd grill or roast it to rare. However, this thing is so skinny that I'm afraid it won't brown before it's fully cooked in the middle.

Any recommendations on an effective technique to cook this thing? Flavor affinities?

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  1. It is the equilalent to a tenderloin.

    I like to grill them over hot coals seasoned with a dry rub. Serve rare, sliced diagonally.

    If one end is much thinner than the other end, I will cut in ~half, and cook the smaller piece with less time/heat.

    If it doesn't brown then the heat was too low (a little sugar in the dry rub will encourage browning, as will teriyaki in a wet soak). I would rather have rare/unbrowned, than well/brown.

    1. During the post-hunt card games at the camp in PA, we slice the backstraps into medallions and flash fry them, 30 seconds per side, in a tad of oil, Worchestershire, and cracked pepper, and keep serving them up as appetizers. We call them "speedies".
      Backstraps are so lean, be careful if you cook it whole so as not to dry it out.

      1. Venison backstrap is NOT the "tenderloin" it is the animal's loin. Think pork loin vs. pork tenderloin. When the animal is processed (cut in two) it creates two "backs straps"...two pieces of loin...The most popular cooking method is sliced and cooked quickly over high heat...on the stove or grill.. with emphasis not to over cook! HTH


        10 Replies
        1. re: Uncle Bob

          I agree that it is not tenderloin. Can you confirm that it is equivalent to shell/strip/NY Strip?

          A few votes for frying medallions/slices so far. Why is that preferable to cooking whole? It seems like cooking it whole would preserve moisture and prevent overcooking.

          What internal temp should I aim for?

          1. re: jeremyn

            A backstrap is a tenderloin, period. Cylindrical, about a foot long, nothing but lean. There is perilously little moisture to preserve, and no fat. Think of a cross section as an archery target with 3 concentric circles. To cook the center through, you will toast the outer ring, which is 55% of your meat.
            A good argument for slicing.

            1. re: huckfinn

              Not true.... period!!! Two different things! A animal (beef, hog, deer, goat etc) has ONE loin (until sawed in two) and TWO tenderloins next to the backbone in the area of the kidneys......HTH


              1. re: Uncle Bob

                You are correct Uncle Bob. It is technically not the equivialant of the tenderloin from a cow. It is the same as the loin from the saddle of deer or rabbit. The true tenderloin in a deer is very small. But in cooking I would treat it as I would a tenderloin.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  I recommended cooking methods would be the same for both the loin and tenderloin on a deer. Also agree, that technically (or otherwise) that the loin (backstrap) on a deer is not the equivalent of the tenderloin on the deer.


                2. re: Uncle Bob

                  As I said. Two backstraps = two tenderloins per deer. I carve them out all the time.

                  1. re: huckfinn

                    One is not the same as the other...If however where you come from you (erroneously) call a loin (from any animal) a tenderloin and do not differentiate between the two I understand your confusion ~~~ It's late, it's been fun, have a good evening.


                  2. re: Uncle Bob

                    Uncle Bob, you have posted the link to the graphic of primal cuts several times now, but the graphic is pointing to the loin, not the backstrap. The backstrap IS the equivalent to the tenderloin. It is not located on the back of the animal, but inside the carcass next to the spine. Think of a porterhouse steak where the loin is on one side and the tenderloin is on the other side. It's the same thing with deer. The backstrap needs to be removed when the deer is field-dressed or it will dry out quickly if you hang the deer for more than a day. The backstrap is pretty small on yearling deer but is great eating when taken from a two year old deer and older.

                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                      hey that would be the loin what i call the baby loins inside the deer on the inside of the backbone right or behind the stomach inards is that what you call the loin

                  3. re: jeremyn

                    The venison loin is tender/tasty if not over cooked. Venison is a very lean meat with little or no intramuscular fat..When using dry cooking methods great care must be taken not to over cook/dry out the meat. Slicing and quickly pan searing or cooking over very hot coals is popular/preferable to cooking whole for that reason...If you choose roasting I would recommend a very hot oven.(450*) and cooking only to rare (125*-130*) or medium rare (130*-135*) ...Remove the meat when it is 5* less than desired...Allow 10 minutes or so for resting....HTH


                3. The general approach here in South Texas is to fry it. Slice it up, dredge it through some flour mixed with a little cornmeal, let it fry up, and watch how people snatch it up the second they become cool enough to handle.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ailine

                    This is the same way we do it in Central/West Arkansas (with the exception that we marinate in buttermilk/salt/cracked black pepper overnight), roll in a 3:1 mixture of flour:cornmeal and cut into 1/2"-5/8" medallions. Cook in 450+ degree peanut oil for literally about 90 seconds a side. Juggle from hand to hand and blow until cool enough to eat. Repeat until gorged. Sleep until finished sleeping. Go kill another deer and start over. I usually keep the backstrap and about 10 lbs of deerburger/chili meat from a kill and give the rest away. I think of it as the same cut as pork tenderloin because they are both long cylindrical muscles on either side of the spine...big difference being that a smallish pork tenderloin is about the same diameter as my forearm/bicep and a venison tenderloin/backstrap (my colloquial terminology, don't really care if it's "correct") is smaller than my wrist, by far the nicest cut of venison. Anyone that cooks one of these until well done is a fool. Bright red/bloody in the center is the only way.

                    1/2" blanched sliced okra dipped in buttermilk and rolled in the same mixture will cook in this same skillet in 3-4 minutes so the timing works out well and venison and okra go very well together (perhaps because I was always fed the two together as a child).

                  2. If your hunter friend gave you the backstrap, s/he is a true friend. This is a NICE piece of meat.

                    As everyone else says, the key is to cook it hot and fast. Since we prefer it very rare, we like to cook it whole. It's easier that way to get the outside brown and keep the inside very rare. You really don't want it "fully cooked" in the middle -- it'll be dry that way. Pretty red in the middle is perfect. Brush it in oil and cook in an extremely hot pan or broil it (or over a fire). Don't expect it to brown or sizzle the way beef will. It will cook faster than beef.

                    Make sure the piece of meat is at room temp before you cook it!

                    Though I agree that the cut of beef it most resembles is a filet, the cuts really aren't directly comparable, and trying to cook venison the way you cook beef won't yield the best results. Hope you enjoy it!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: visciole

                      Indeed, when I say fully cooked, I mean rare to medium rare. I consider a 120 degree steak fully cooked.

                      Why do you say it won't brown like beef? Just because there's less fat?

                      1. re: jeremyn

                        Exactly, because there is so little fat in the meat you will not get the cooking sounds you're used to with beef. I never use a thermometer so I can't comment on the temp you mentioned, but I will just stress: the stuff cooks fast. Better to take it off the grill and cut into it to check than risk over-cooking it.

                        A piece of properly butchered wild deer should not have the bacteria risk of a store-bought steak (IMHO -- I'm sure some will disagree), so it can be safely eaten very rare.

                        Please let us know how you liked it!

                        1. re: visciole

                          Wow so many people fightin over what to compare the meat with or what to call it! The person asked how to cook it, why the need for all the "Im right you're wrong" crap? As for cooking- my uncle Bob (probably not the same Uncle Bob from earlier comments) would marinade the backstrap in italian dressing for a while before cooking- then he would broil for a little bit in the oven, wrapped in tinfoil and with the same marinade juices to keep it moist. Then let it rest and serve sliced diagonal, rare and juicy! The zesty italian dressing was just mouthwatering and the meat melts in your mouth. This is by far the best cut from a deer no matter what you wanna call it or compare it to- ENJOY! Good luck!