There are many ways to cook venison backstrap, but perhaps the most popular is butterflied backstrap. This means cutting three-quarters through the meat and folding it out like a butterfly, hence the name.
What Is Butterflied Backstrap
Before moving forward, let’s actually clear up what a butterfly backstrap is. There are two methods to butterflying a venison backstrap, lengthwise and crosswise.
Lengthwise: This method of butterflying is usually for stuffing a backstrap that will be baked in the oven. A cut is made along the length of the backstrap at the center, about three-quarters deep. It is then pounded flat to make stuffing easier.
Crosswise: This is the more popular method of butterflying and the method used in the recipe below. To start, square off the end of the backstrap (don’t worry about the off-cuts as they can be used for venison tips recipe later).
Now decide the thickness you would like the steak to be and make a cut three-quarters the way through. Make another cut the whole way through the same thickness as your first cut.
You can fry the steak like this or gently pound the back side to even it up. Typically for thicker steaks, I find no need to flatten them, but I gently pound them for thinner steaks.
Frying Butterfly Steaks
Butterflied backstrap steaks fry very much like any venison steak. However, it’s important to remember that venison steaks and beef steaks are very different.
Beef steaks are well marbled with fat to aid in cooking and moisture retention. Venison steaks do not have this fat, so we must add some.
- Heat a cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel pan over high heat.
- Add some high-temperature oil to the pan and bring it to just below smoking point(avocado, grapeseed, etc.)
- Season and place the room-temperature steak on the pan and give it a gentle push down.
- Turn the steak and cook the same on the other side. You can add aromatics like thyme, garlic, and some butter on the second side.
- Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your cook. With venison, it’s a good idea to remember less is better; nobody enjoys overcooked venison.
If you are really not confident in cooking steak, there are two methods to determine when it is cooked. One method uses your hands and fingers, and the other uses a meat thermometer.
The sauce here is the star of the show. You may be thinking the butterflied backstrap is, but the sauce brings the flavor and holds everything together, thus elevating the backstrap.
You can make many variations of pan-fried sauce, but since we are all into wild food here, I opted for a wild mushroom sauce.
Not just any mushroom either; there really is only one wild mushroom worthy of such a prime cut of venison; you’ve guessed it, the porcini.
To start the sauce, you need some aromatics like shallots and garlic. Then you add your mushrooms and burn off some of the excess moisture.
We will then use a dry red wine to deglaze the pan. This will bring all the flavors of the venison into the sauce from the searing you did earlier.
Next, we add some stock to balance out the flavor. I used game stock, but beef stock would also work. I don’t recommend using vegetable, fish, or chicken stock.
You could thicken your sauce with cornstarch at this stage, but I wanted a creamy sauce. To do this, I turned off the heat and added half of the cream. The other half is used to make a cornstarch slurry.
What to do With Butterflied Venison Backstrap
The only limit here is your imagination. Mine is usually limited. After waiting a whole year for backstrap, I don’t want to be fiddling around with recipes; there are other cuts for that.
Serve with your favorite sides: A butterflied venison backstrap is a prime cut of meat and equally as good as any steak you will find in any restaurant. This makes it a prime contender to serve with a variety of sides along with your pan sauce.
This could be sweet potato fries, rice, or any veg you may have in mind. When making this recipe, I made it with bacon and brussel sprouts.
Steak Sandwich: This is absolutely one of my favorite things to make with a butterflied backstrap. It’s quick, simple, and downright delicious, and there is no better cut of meat to do it with.
The backstrap is tender enough for a sandwich; let’s face it, you’re not going to waste a tenderloin on a sandwich.
Pan Fried Butterflied Venison Backstrap
- Venison Backstrap trimmed
- 1 medium shallot diced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 ozdry porcinis soaked 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup game stock
- 1/2 dry wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- High-temp oil
- Using a very sharp knife, make a cut in the backstrap 3/4 way through. Make another cut the same thickness all the way through.
- Lay the steak on some cling film with the cut side pointing down. Lay some cling film over the top, and gently tap with a meat hammer to level out the steak.
- Preheat a cast iron pan over high heat. Add one teaspoon high temp oil (avocado, grapeseed, etc.)
- Season one side of the steak and immediately place it on the pan and season the other side. Cooking time will vary on the thickness of the cut. Thin steaks will need only 1 minute per side. For thicker cuts, you can use the hand method to test the doneness.
- Flip the steak over and cook the other side the same as the first. (optional: add butter and aromatics like thyme and garlic)
- Remove the steaks from the pan and set them on a wooden board to rest.
- Reduce the heat and add the shallot and butter. Gently cook until beginning to soften. Add the garlic, then add the mushrooms with the water. Cook until the water begins to reduce.
- Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- When the wine has been reduced by half, add to the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, and add half the cream. (Note 1)
- Add the other half of the cream to a bowl along with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Add to the sauce and stir until the sauce thickens.
Option 1 Sprouts and Bacon
- Par boil the brussel sprouts and set aside to cool
- When cooled, slice in half
- Dice up some smoked bacon and mix it with sprouts
- Add sprouts and bacon to pan over medium heat
- Serve when the bacon is beginning to crisp
Option 2 Steak Sandwich
- Preheat a cast iron pan to medium heat
- Add the onions and fry until soft
- Remove onions and add some garlic and butter
- Slice the loaf lengthwise and place it on the pan. Toast for 2-3 minutes
- Remove the loaf, drizzle over a little olive oil
- Add onions, steak, cheese, and then sauce.