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What Is Venison Backstrap?

Venison backstrap, the tenderloin of a deer, is a prized cut for its succulence and rich flavor. It's a versatile meat that can be grilled, roasted, or pan-seared. For non-game eaters, beef or pork tenderloin makes a fine substitute. Discover mouthwatering recipes that showcase backstrap's potential and elevate your culinary game. Ready to transform your next meal with this game-changer?
C.H. Seman
C.H. Seman

Savoring the succulence of venison, one might wonder, what is a backstrap? This prime cut, nestled along a deer's spine, is a culinary treasure for its tenderness and flavor. According to the National Deer Association, the backstrap, or loin, is a highly sought-after portion due to its minimal use in the animal's daily activity, resulting in a softer texture. 

The National Deer Association confirms that because these muscles are less exercised compared to others, they are inherently more tender, making them a top choice for both chefs and home cooks alike. When prepared with care, venison backstrap offers a gourmet experience that stands out in the world of game meats.

One of the most popular methods of preparing venison backstrap is to wrap the meat in thick-cut bacon before grilling.
One of the most popular methods of preparing venison backstrap is to wrap the meat in thick-cut bacon before grilling.

There are several different methods of removing the backstraps from a deer. The most common method is removing both backstrap muscles from the deer after it has been field dressed. While the deer is hanging upside down, a knife is inserted along the spine near the deer's hindquarters and is worked down, cutting close to the vertebrae, all the way to the neck.

Venison backstrap.
Venison backstrap.

After the cuts have been made to separate the backstrap from the spine, a cut is made across the backstrap all the way to the ribs near the first cut. From this point, the knife is used around the backstrap to separate it from the ribs. This is done on both sides of the deer and should provide two long cuts of meat.

Venison backstrap is both very lean and very tender. This should be taken into consideration when preparing and cooking the backstrap. In general, a cut of meat that is very lean will cook more quickly than a fattier piece of meat. This is important for a preparer to keep in mind because it is easier to overcook lean meat, which can make it tougher and dryer. Butter or bacon fat are sometimes used as coatings for lean cuts of meat to prevent overcooking.

The backstrap is considered one of the more tender parts of a deer.
The backstrap is considered one of the more tender parts of a deer.

There are several ways of preparing and cooking venison backstrap. As a general rule, any recipe for beef or pork tenderloin can be used for venison, as long as the cooking times are adjusted for size and fat content. For example, a recipe for filet mignon or tenderloin medallions would work well with venison backstrap.

One of the most popular methods of preparing this cut is slicing the meat in filet mignon-sized portions — 1-2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) thick — marinating them, wrapping them in thick-cut bacon and grilling them. Wrapping the meat with bacon not only adds extra flavor, it also changes the way the meat is cooked because of the fat content. The meat is ready to be taken off the grill after the outside edges are slightly crispy. The internal temperature of venison should reach at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius) for safety.

How To Cook Deer Backstrap?

When deciding how to prepare venison backstrap, it is essential to remember that the cut is very tender and lean. Because of the nature of the cut, it is easy to overcook. Venison is already gamey meat, so overcooking could render it dry or tough, which is not ideal.

Easy Swaps

A good rule of thumb when looking at recipes is to search for those that use pork tenderloin or beef filet mignon cuts; it is a simple swap to sub venison backstrap in any recipes that call for either. However, cooking items and doneness will need to be adjusted for your specific meat, fat content, and weight. Venison is served when cooked safely to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Balancing Flavors

The backstrap is tender, but the venison’s gamey nature and the cut’s leanness complement more decadent foods in recipes. When building an entire plate, remember that not very much fat content will come from your backstrap. As chefs say, you must find ways to add fat back to the dish to balance it. Typical recipes that include the backstrap have butter sauces or bacon accents.

Backstrap Recipes

Unlike many other parts of venison, the backstrap is a prized cut of meat. While steaks and ground round are standard, the skill involved with expertly butchering a backstrap is celebrated. Plus, while there are often many more other cuts of venison, the backstrap accounts for a tiny portion of the overall meat. Rather than being used up in various ways by being swapped out as this ingredient or that, backstrap recipes are specifically sought out to savor the cut.

What Are Popular Venison Backstrap Recipes?

People enjoy the venison backstrap with richer, fattier complements. As featured here, you will often find it wrapped in bacon or stuffed with a creamy mixture.

Fried Venison Backstrap: Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. venison backstrap, cut in ½ inch slices
  • 2 c. milk
  • 3 tbs. Frank’s x-tra hot sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbs. salt
  • 2 tbs. black pepper
  • 2 tbs. onion powder
  • 3 c. vegetable oil for frying

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine venison, milk, and hot sauce
  • Set aside and marinate for one hour
  • Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients in another shallow dish
  • At the one hour mark, heat oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Use an electric skillet or thermometer
  • Remove venison from wet mixture set aside but do not pat dry
  • Add eggs to wet mixture
  • Coat venison in flour mixture
  • Dip slices in egg mixture
  • Coat venison in flour mixture again
  • Remove excess flour
  • Add venison to skillet
  • Fry on each side until just golden brown or about 2 ½ minutes on each side
  • Drain on paper towels before serving hot

Stuffed Venison Backstrap: Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 venison backstrap
  • ½ c. mushrooms chopped and sauteed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and sauteed
  • ½ small onion diced and sauteed
  • 4 tbsp. real bacon bits, cooked and drained
  • ¾ c. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 lb smoked bacon
  • ¼ c. curly parsley chopped
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Prepare stuffing mixture in medium bowl to combine
  • Add mushrooms, onion, cream cheese, parsley, and bacon bits and set aside
  • Prepare venison backstrap
  • Remove any excess silver skin and trim to the desired length
  • An inch down, cut straight down the side to an inch before the end
  • Butterfly the backstrap open without cutting through
  • Combine dry spices and save out 2 tbs. of mixture
  • Rub 3 tbs. of dry mix all over the backstrap
  • Once coated, stuff opening with the wet mixture
  • Wrap closed with pieces of bacon
  • Secure with cooking twine
  • Set on a sheet pan with grated cover for drippings
  • Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Let rest for 10 minutes
  • Slice and serve

What To Serve With Venison Backstrap?

Because venison backstrap is still gamey, despite being tender, it is good to balance the plate with other textures and flavor profiles. If you have not already added a creamy element to your dish, as featured in some stuffed backstrap recipes, consider adding a butter or cream sauce to the plate to help balance it. Other sides that complement the venison backstrap include:

  • Cheesy garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Pumpkin sage risotto
  • Asparagus with hollandaise sauce
  • Butternut squash gnocchi
  • Bleu cheese and pear salad

FAQ on Venison Backstrap

What is venison backstrap and where does it come from on the deer?

Venison backstrap is a premium cut of meat from the top of a deer's ribcage, along the spine. It's equivalent to the loin or filet mignon in cattle, known for its tenderness and lean quality. This muscle does less work than others, resulting in a more tender texture, making it highly prized among hunters and chefs for its exceptional flavor and ease of preparation.

How should venison backstrap be cooked to maximize its flavor and tenderness?

To maximize the flavor and tenderness of venison backstrap, it should be cooked quickly over high heat to achieve a good sear on the outside while keeping the inside medium-rare to medium. Overcooking can lead to a tough and dry texture. Resting the meat after cooking is crucial to allow the juices to redistribute, ensuring a moist and flavorful experience.

What are some popular seasonings or marinades for venison backstrap?

Popular seasonings for venison backstrap include salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary, which complement its rich flavor. Marinades often contain acidic components like vinegar or citrus juice to tenderize the meat, along with herbs and spices. A simple marinade could combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and thyme, enhancing the venison's natural taste without overpowering it.

Is venison backstrap a healthy choice compared to other red meats?

Yes, venison backstrap is considered a healthy choice compared to other red meats. It is lower in calories and fat, including saturated fat, and higher in protein content. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of cooked venison has about 134 calories and 3 grams of fat, while providing around 26 grams of protein, making it a lean and nutritious option.

Where can I purchase venison backstrap if I'm not a hunter?

Venison backstrap can be purchased at specialty butcher shops, some high-end grocery stores, or through online retailers that specialize in game meats. It may also be available at farmers' markets where local hunters sell their game. Since venison is not as commonly produced on a commercial scale as beef or pork, it might come with a higher price tag due to its rarity and the special processing required.

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Discussion Comments

gravois

I had stuffed backstrap at a friend's house recently. He is a hunter and had killed the deer just the day before.

It was amazing. Probably one of the best meals that I have ever had. The meat was cooked perfectly and the stuffing added some nice flavors.

backdraft
I have tried many different venison backstrap recipes over the years. Everything from baking, to grilling, to smoking, to processing the meat. I have realized that the best way to end up with a stellar dish is to use a good venison backstrap marinade.

I make my own out of honey, soy sauce, spices, and some beer. It gives the meat a deep seasoned flavor that complements the gaminess of the venison really nicely.

BAU79

The backstrap is probably the best part of the deer. In some places, if a person agrees to let other hunters hunt on their land, the fee will be at least one backstrap from some of the deer they shoot. It is a fair trade. The hunters still end up with a lot of good meat, and the landowner gets something in exchange for his generosity.

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    • One of the most popular methods of preparing venison backstrap is to wrap the meat in thick-cut bacon before grilling.
      By: Mat Hayward
      One of the most popular methods of preparing venison backstrap is to wrap the meat in thick-cut bacon before grilling.
    • Venison backstrap.
      Venison backstrap.
    • The backstrap is considered one of the more tender parts of a deer.
      By: awhelin
      The backstrap is considered one of the more tender parts of a deer.