Recipe: A Better Back Strap
By Jason Brooks
The back strap is one of the best cuts of wild game due to the fact that it is all muscle with no connective tissues and no fat. But wild game is often looked upon as “gamey” tasting or if it’s a mature buck it has a reputation of “cutting like boot leather”. This is because the lack of fat means the meat will dry out quickly, especially if over-cooked. This then can create a strong flavor as well as a chewy texture.
When hunters butcher the back strap one of the most common ways is to “butterfly cut” the steaks as it makes a larger steak. It might be nice to have a big, round, juicy beef steak mar- bled with fat but this is the absolute worst way to treat a lean meat like venison. You are sure to over-cook the meat.
Remove the back strap in a long piece and leave the sinew ( fat) and other pieces connected until you get home as this will protect the true loin. Once you get home use a fillet knife with a thin and ultra-sharp blade to remove the silver-skin as well as the fat. Then follow the connective tissues and separate the loin from the surrounding meat. You should have one long piece of meat about two or three inches in diameter for a deer, and four to five inches for elk. Here is the most important part. Instead of cut- ting the steaks using the butterfly method, cut the meat in four inch sections. The thick steak, which looks like a “mini-roast”, will cook much easier and won’t dry out.
Rub the steak with olive oil and then coat it with the seasoning. Wrap the steak in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Pre-heat the grill (I prefer to use the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill), or oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the steak and place it on a plate while the oven or grill is heating. Then cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until medium rare. It is very important to not overcook the meat. It should cut red but solid in the center. If you have one, use a meat thermometer and make sure the center is at least 165 degrees. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.