Thursday, January 2, 2014
How To Cook: Bacon Wrapped Venison Backstrap
Venison is on of my favorite meats and when I can get my hands on it I savor it the best I can. Because I am not a hunter myself getting venison has its challenges. there are options at high end butchers and websites dedicated to game meats; however, the best way I have found to get my hands on the good stuff is to get it from hunters. If you have friends who hunt there is a good chance they have some meat they are willing to give or trade willingly. I once received a whole deer when a member on one of the outdoor forums I visit realized he had less room in his freezer than he realized.
The fact is hunters are often excited to share the spoils of their hunts as long as the people they are sharing it with truly enjoy it. Venison sadly has a reputation for being gamey. The American diet in some locations was mainly venison before the second world war, but these days it is more of a rarity. Being so rare if someone is offered venison and given poorly prepared meat that was over or under cooked there is a chance the person is going to form a negative opinion that may last a lifetime. It is sad how often I mention eating venison and people make a face and say "I don't eat that. It tastes gamey."
Preparing venison is not difficult and takes about the same time to prepare as beef. Venison does lack the fat (and cholesterol) content of beef so you must take better care not to over cook it. Without this natural inner basting the meat will go dry and tough if you are not careful. If the deer was cooled quickly, and butchered properly it will be evident in the final product. A marinade will bring more depth to the flavor of the meat and help earthy tastes in the meat taste earthy instead of what people call gamey. I like to use a fillet knife to cut and tendon or silver-skin left on the meat. I use the same knifes I use for my fish because they are sharp, flexible, and thin making my cuts precise and limiting waste. I have a bacon wrapped recipe that I just threw together--it's good.
One Back-strap Steak
Six Slices of Center Cut Bacon
A Drizzle of Olive oil
Two TablespoonsVinigar (your choice)
Toothpicks (to hold the bacon)
I set the burner to high and when water danced on the pan I put a good sear on both sides before moving the whole into the oven. I checked in on the steak about every ten minutes, flipping it and making sure it was not getting too well done. Using the oven to finish the steak is great because it crisps the outside and the meat on the inside is protected by the bacon from drying out of getting too well done.
Once there was good color on the outside I let it sit for five minutes. in hindsight I should have let it rest for ten minutes because I lost quite a bit of juice once I got to the center section. I portioned it out using my trusty little Rapala Fillet knife. By cutting the back strap across the grain of the heat in thin sections I insured a good tender bite. My wife is a reformed vegetarian and freaks if she has any excess fat or tendon in her meat. Her plate was clean before I knew it.
My wife was very impressed with the taste, texture, and presentation. This recipe should be good for the seasoned hunter as well as someone new to wild game. It only took about an hour to prepair form the fridge to the table. Plus it is wrapped in bacon--you can't go wrong with bacon! you could use the same technique on a elk, bison, moose, antelope, or beer steak as long as it has about the same shape. In fact if it were a bigger cut it would have worked out better than mine because the bacon would have had more time to crisp and render more of its fat. I served the whole thing up with a side of quinoa and steamed veggies making this a fairly balanced meal. The good thing about eating your vegetables is it means you may be around longer to eat more meat.
Venison is a lean, delicious, tasty meat that is more American than apple pie and if you aren't willing to try it you truly are missing out.
Thanks for reading,