OutdoorHub Editor: Keenan Crow 12.10.20
The backstraps. They’re arguably the most popular – and delicious – cut of meat off a deer, or elk you can possibly get your hands on. But if cooked negligently, they will quickly become dry and give off that ‘gamey’ flavor people often complain about when they say they don’t like the taste of venison. Which is why, especially when I’m cooking a backstrap, I don’t mind going the extra mile to ensure it’s cooked evenly and tastes phenomenal.
As their name suggests, these two large, tube-shaped steaks run along the backs of deer and other Cervids. They’re super lean cuts of meat and quite thick, too. These two factors present a bit of a challenge when you go to cook them.
I’ve had my fair share of venison backstrap in my years, and I’ve had it served both under and over cooked – neither of which I particularly recommend..
And then I discovered a bullet-proof method for cooking these cherished cuts of meat, and will likely never go back to cooking them any other way ever again.
I’m certain many of you out there have a freezer full of good aim and fresh venison from this season, so if you want to give it a try to see if I’m lying to you, here is what you will need to cook the best venison backstrap you’ve ever tasted in your life:
1. Anova Precision Cooker
First and foremost, you will need a sous vide precision cooker like this one from Anova Culinary. Perhaps you’ve heard about this method of cooking before, just have never actually dove in and went as far as purchasing one for yourself. Let me tell you, if you’re going to be cooking a lot of wild game, a precision cooker is going to be your new best friend!
They allow the meat – or whatever is on your menu – to cook in a way that locks in flavor and moisture, which results in texture and taste that is second to none. And when you’re dealing with such lean meat like wild game, that is essential.
Pros/Bluetooth & WiFi enabled
2. Rubbermaid Plastic Container for Sous Vide
You’re also going to need some kind of container to sous vide the meat in. You can use a large pot if you’re in a pinch, but I prefer using a container like this one from Rubbermaid. It’s a good size and shape to fit your food in, but not so large that it takes forever to bring the water up to temperature.
This one covers all the bases and even saves you some coin. Win, win for you!
Pros/High quality – Designed for saving space
Cons/Lid not included
3. Reusable Vacuum Food Storage Bags
You could also just use Ziploc bags, but this little device is just fun to use! Plus, the sous vide vacuum bags are made of BPA free plastic.
4. 22″ Extra Long Tongs
Tongs will come in handy when it’s time to transfer the backstrap from its water bath to a hot pan. Let it develop a nice sear all over, while you turn and even hold the steak with your tongs on one side to get that charred crust on the outside. Because when you cut into the backstrap, it will be perfectly cooked throughout just the way you like it.
I usually opt for the ‘long-daddy tongs’ – as I call them – because I don’t like to burn my hands and these keep your hands out of the hot steam or away from the cooking surface.
Pros/Heavy Duty – Extra long
Cons/Not convenient for storage
5. Lodge Cast Iron Pan
The cast iron pan is the secret weapon here. I used to cook my backstraps on the grill, but always found they came out way too dry afterwards. I’ve since turned towards a cast iron skillet with a little bit of oil to help keep the meat nice and moist.
Get your pan piping hot, toss in a little garlic and some fresh herbs, and let your backstrap sing in there for about 10 minutes depending on the size and how you like it cooked.
Pros/Ultra tough design – Suitable for use on all heat sources
Cons/Heavy – Not ideal for transporting
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