Hunting means a lot of things to different people, whether it’s tradition or the love for the chase, the results of a successful hunt always boils down to one important aspect – meat on the table. Venison is one of the most delectable red meats on the planet, yet not everyone knows how to cook it. This makes me sad, let me help.
Wild game is often very lean, so much so, that even wild hogs struggle to produce a decent slice of bacon. Lean means one cardinal thing to anyone who knows anything about cooking meat – it dries out fast and easily. Dried out meat is chewy and the flavor quickly develops into an unfriendly presence on your taste buds. This is why I prefer to cook backstraps whole or in thirds vs. medallion or butterfly style steaks. By grilling loin steaks whole, rather than individual butterflied fillets, the likelihood of overcooking the meat lessens dramatically. To go a step further, by starting out the grilling process over high direct heat, a bark will sear around the exterior of the steak and help retain the natural moisture of the meat, naturally tenderizing the tissues as it cooks.
The grilled venison backstrap recipe I’m sharing with you in this article reveals how I prepare and grill one of the best plates of steak you will ever have. It may even have you ranking venison at the top of your all-time favorite red meats.
Follow these instructions to find out how I’ve changed the minds of sworn venison haters from all over the country!
Dry Rub Seasoning Ingredients:
» 1/3 venison loin (aka, Backstrap)
» (2) cloves of garlic – crushed
» 2 tsp. Fresh cracked black pepper
» 2 tsp. Hickory smoked salt (kosher salt will work)
» 2 tsp. Sweet smoked Spanish paprika
» 1 tbsp. soy sauce
» 2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
» 1 cup vegetable oil
» 1 sweet onion sliced into rings – thickness can vary
» 1 tbsp. garlic powder
I prefer to season and marinate the backstrap one day in advance. Season the meat first with a dry rub of all ingredients listed above, making sure to spread the seasoning evenly across the entire 1/3 venison loin.
Use a dinner fork to penetrate holes into the steak using the full length of the fork prongs. The more you poke the steak, the more doors you are opening for the marinade and seasoning to get inside the meat. Penetrating with a fork also tends to break some of the muscle fibers down and ultimately aid to the tenderizing process.
Using a glass baking dish with walls slightly higher than the thickness of the meat, add the seasoned cut of meat, then pour in the marinade ingredients by drizzling over the top of the backstrap. Add the sliced sweet onion rings by laying them over the top of the cut of meat.
Cover and leave overnight.
Use hardwood lump in a charcoal grill for best flavor and a hotter flame. Ignite a bed of hardwood lump coal on one side of the grill, while leaving the other side void of coals to create an indirect heat cooking surface. Light the hardwood lump with a system other than charcoal lighting fluid; lighter fluid will alter the taste of the meat and you’ll end up tasting it – using a charcoal chimney or torch works best.
Once the hardwood lump is hot and the coals appear to be salt and pepper in color with a flame, the grill grate should be plenty hot and ready to sear. Without patting the meat dry, use CAUTION when directly placing the meat over the direct flame as the oil may drip into the coals and create large flames – stand back and don’t lean over the grill. Using the direct heat, sear the exterior of the steak for at least two minutes before turning the steak – you’ll know when it’s ready to flip if the meat no longer sticks to the grill grate. Since loins are round, you’ll want to sear it as though it were a square – all four sides. Doing so will help trap the moisture in.
Once you’ve got the outside of the meat seared with a bark, slide it off to the side of the coals – not all the way – and let it continue to sear as the meat cooks through.
You’re not on a cooking show and no one will judge you for checking the doneness of the meat with a knife by cutting into it on the grill. Or, if you’ve been grilling long enough and know the trick of comparing the density of the meat with the density of the flesh below the base of your thumb when you ball your fist, just be sure not to cook the steak past Medium Rare in the middle.
Once you’ve achieved Medium Rare in the middle, remove from the grill and place in a glass cooking dish, or aluminum tray, and spread butter over the top of the steak and allow it to melt and drip down the sides. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
Your venison backstrap is ready to serve to any veni-hating non-believer!