Venison backstrap steaks are often referred to as “the hunter’s filet mignon,” as they are one of the most prized venison cuts available, and can be cooked on the grill just like a gourmet cut of beef. Since venison is leaner than beef, marinate backstrap steaks for several hours prior to grilling. This method helps to impart flavor and seal in moisture while cooking, so you wind up with moist, savory steaks.
Remove any silver skin from the backstrap with a sharp knife. Cutting across the grain, slice the venison into 2-inch-thick steaks.
Prepare a simple marinade using olive oil and desired seasonings. Use enough olive oil to fully coat the steaks, or approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil for every 2 pounds of venison. Try using a few dashes of salt and pepper, or add small amounts of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano, or seasonings like onion powder and garlic salt. Coat venison backstrap steaks in the marinade in a shallow dish and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Turn the steaks at least once. The longer the venison steaks marinate, the more potent the resulting flavors from the seasonings will be.
Preheat the grill to high. Add venison steaks to the grill. Cook the steaks for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare doneness, rotating the steaks 90 degrees about halfway through to make grill marks.
Remove venison steaks from grill and let rest for several minutes prior to serving. Try serving grilled venison steaks with grilled herbed potatoes, a savory horseradish cream sauce or a fresh lettuce salad.
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- The most tender backstrap steaks come from younger deer. If you are cooking steaks from a deer older than 3 years, tenderize the meat with a metal mallet until well perforated prior to cooking.
- A rare to medium-rare doneness -- an internal temperature of 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit -- is recommended for tender cuts of venison like backstrap steaks. Cooking past a medium-rare doneness causes the moisture to cook out and can cause the meat to become tough and dry.
- Consumption of undercooked meat increases the likelihood of exposure to foodborne illness. To avoid the risk, cook meat to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Christina Kalinowski is a writer from the Twin Cities who began her career in 2011. She contributes food and drink related articles to The Daily Meal. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from Purdue University.