The backstrap is the most coveted cut from a freshly harvested deer, in my opinion. While some folks prefer the equally appetizing tenderloins, backstraps (the long straps of muscle that run along the deer’s back) are my prime pick every time because they are tender, lean, and cook like a dream. The keys to the cut? Cook it quickly at high heat after harvesting so it doesn’t dry out. And, don’t you dare overcook it (rare, or medium rare—at most).
Today, we’re taking a piece of deer backstrap from field to frying pan—in a matter of minutes. Teaming with Outsider’s crack shot Brandon Chesbro, we’re hunting, harvesting, and preparing an early lunch over the campfire. Of course, the backstrap is the star, so we’re keeping the recipe simple with just a few ingredients that fit into our backpack (but our bourbon pan de-glaze provides an extra flavor boost if you’re interested in a quick sauce).
Pan-Seared Backstrap Ingredients
- 1 lb. venison backstrap
- 1 tbsp. coarse salt
- 1 tbsp. coarse pepper
- 6 pats of butter
- 3 oz. bourbon whiskey
- Fresh baguettes
A backstrap can be around 2-feet long, so I like to cut it into a piece about the width of the cast iron frying pan I’m using, as opposed to medallion cuts, which are easy to overcook and don’t retain as much juice when resting after the sear. With a No. 6 Lodge Cast Iron skillet at the ready, we’re using a 6-inch cut of backstrap, which is about 1 pound.
After shooting your target deer (image 1), remove the backstraps (2). Cut one of the backstraps into a 6-inch piece (3). With a fillet knife, remove all of the silver skin—silver connective tissue—from the meat (4).
Completely coat the backstrap in salt and pepper (image 5). Place your cast iron skillet directly over the fire, bringing it to high heat. Drop 2 pats of butter into the skillet. Place the backstrap into the skillet, cooking it for about 2 minutes until a nice crust forms (6). Avoid moving the meat while it cooks. Add 2 more pats of butter. Flip the backstrap and cook for 2 more minutes. Using a pair of tongs to hold the meat, sear the remaining short sides of the backstrap for 1 minute each, as well as the ends for 1 minute each (7). Remove the backstrap from the skillet after it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees (we’re using the Outsider-approved Thermo Works ThermoPop instant-read thermometer). Let the backstrap rest for 5 minutes (8).
Remove the skillet from the fire. Add the remaining 2 pats of butter. Add 3 oz. of bourbon (we’re using 1792 Small Batch). The skillet’s residual heat will reduce the bourbon/butter into a tasty sauce while it de-glazes the pan.
Slice the backstrap into medallions. Pour the bourbon/butter sauce over the baguettes. Enjoy your seared venison backstrap masterpiece.