There’s something about pairing venison, bourbon, and brown sugar that really works.
Venison has a natural sweetness, as does bourbon. The sweetness found in venison and bourbon is subtle and mixed up with other flavors.
By adding brown sugar to this recipe we can control the overall sweetness.
Tips Venison Tenderloin Marinade
This recipe is easy to make for someone with experience but if you are not confident here are some things to keep in mind.
While we want this dish to be sweet, if we are not careful it can become overpowering very quickly. As I mentioned above, venison is already naturally sweet as is bourbon.
However, to get the level of sweetness we are looking for we must use sugar. In the marinade alone this is easy to manage, and the meat has just the right amount of sweetness.
However, this recipe uses marinade as a sauce, who wants to waste bourbon?
To prevent the sauce from becoming too sweet we caramelize it and cut it with stock, this leaves us with a smooth, rich, sweet sauce.
Because we are using a considerable amount of bourbon and sugar in this recipe, we need to pay close attention to the cooking temperature.
This is for both the meat and the sauce. Sugar is very susceptible to burning, and the bourbon will reduce quickly.
This is why this recipe is best cooked in an oven or at a well-regulated temperature. This recipe is cooked at a slightly lower temperature than common recipes.
Between the marinade and low temp cook, the venison is melt-in-your-mouth tender.
As well as the low temperature the venison is not cooked for long. While the time varies depending on the thickness of the meat, an average whitetail backstrap takes about 30 minutes.
However, time should never be used when cooking prime cuts of venison, internal temperature is a much better method.
For rare cook to 125F, for medium rare cook to 130F, for medium cook to 140F, for well, cook to 160F.
A good sear is almost a requirement for most prime meat cuts. I’m partial to a reverse sear, as I find it makes for juicer meat and a much more even cook.
However, as mentioned above, sugar is very easy to burn. I still recommend searing this meat, but as you will find when you remove it from the oven, the sugar will already have created a caramel on the outside.
For this reason, I make the sear very quick. If you want to add a little more flavor and perfect the char on the outside you could use a little extra bourbon and flambe the meat.
Be careful not to use too much as you don’t want it to burn too long or too hot.
While I have only used this recipe on backstraps so far, I’m sure it will work with many cuts of venison. It could work extremely well in smaller cuts for a slow cooker etc.
I have not tried this on the grill yet but again I’m sure it would work well so long as you regulate the temperature well.
There is no doubt the meat is the star of the show in this recipe, but the sauce is definitely the queen. The marinade does a great job flavoring and tenderizing the venison, but when turned into a sauce it really shines.
There is room here to play with the sweetness of the sauce. You can tone down the sweetness by a little less reduction or a little more stock.
I prefer the latter as I like to get a caramelized flavor in the sauce.
Venison Tenderloin Marinade
- 1/2 cup bourbon or whiskey
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 3 cloves black garlic
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- venison backstrap approx 1lb
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons oil I used walnut
- 8 small carrots cleaned
- 1/8 cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Add the black garlic cloves to your marinade bag and crush them between your fingers.
- Place your well-trimmed venison into the bag.
- Add in the oil, sugar, thyme, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, and bourbon. Any bourbon can be used but a cheap one is good enough for this recipe.
- Work the mixture around a little to mix it all up and rub it into the meat a little.
- Place the marinated meat into the refrigerator for 12-48 hours
- Remove the venison from the refrigerator 15-30 minutes before cooking to come to room temperature. Pour the marinade into a saucepan and set over very low heat, stir frequently. When the mixture has reduced by about half, add in the stock and thicken with a teaspoon of corn starch. Set aside.
- Add the carrots bourbon, brown sugar, and oil to a bag and place in the fridge, for 10-20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 365f
- Line a baking tray with foil, place the venison uncovered and set in the oven. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat. For rare cook to 125F, for medium rare cook to 130F, for medium cook to 140F, for well, cook to 160F.
- Once the meat has reached your desired temperature remove the meat from the oven and tray and set it aside for 5-10 minutes to rest. Keep the meat loosely covered with foil while resting.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Remove the carrots from the marinade and add to the skillet. Cook for 5-10 minutes until you reach your desired texture.
- Remove the carrots from the pan and set aside, deglaze the pan with the carrot marinade and add to the sauce.
- Add a drop of oil to the pan and increast the heat to high. Place the venison on the pan and quickly sear.
- Add 1/8 cup of bourbon to the pan to flambe (optional)