December 13, 2010 by MarkHanrahan20
I picked up my deer meat yesterday after another successful shotgun season here in Central Iowa. Overall, our group of six shot five deer. Two of these were bucks, which I brought down in the first hour of the hunt. Having only been hunting a few years, these were only the second and third bucks I have ever harvested and the first two with a shotgun.
Now, I have been spending the last few years trying to sneak venison into meals for my friends and family without them knowing it wasn’t deer. This hasn’t always been easy, especially if you let a steak sit on the fire just the slightest bit past medium. When prepared correctly, there are two cuts of venison that just about anyone can slide past even the most suspecting pallet, the backstrap and the tenderloin. The backstraps, are two this strips of meat running down the lower back on the outside of the deer and the tenderloins run just inside the ribcage. Both cuts are very tender, but still require a great deal of care to make sure they aren’t overcooked. Venison, having a much lower fat content than beef, is far less forgiving to overcooking and it doesn’t take long to reach the ‘shoeleather’ state.
So this is a little recipe I put together and tried out last night to prepare one of the tenderloins. I had read about many variations of the bacon wrapped tenderloin and most of them seem to add a great deal of sugar and sodium to enhance the flavor of the venison, but I prefer to trust the spices, herbs, and flavors of the bacon. I started with a whole cut of tenderloin, this particular piece was about 1 3/4 lb and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
I then butterfly cut the length of the tenderloin to open it up, and rubbed it with a little olive oil, some fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt. I also added a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, some red onion, and fresh basil and oregano.
Now comes the fun part, because everything is better with bacon. Fold the tenderloin back, almost like a subway sandwich, and begin adding the bacon. I like to start by cutting a piece in half, and covering the ends of the tenderloin. After covering one end, begin wrapping the bacon around the outside of the venison, almost like you are putting on a wristwatch, then securing it with a toothpick. Continue this process until the entire tenderloin, including both ends, are covered in the bacon.
I then rubbed a very thin layer of olive oil on a medium sized bacon dish and hit the bacon wrapping with another coat of fresh ground pepper (I love peppered bacon). The tenderloin should be cooked to medium in approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees. For venison, medium is considered 140-150 degrees, so I took mine out at 135 degrees and let it rest for approximately 5 minutes before carving.
I served the venison with some Seeds of Change, Quinoa and Whole Grain Brown Rice. This stuff is great, and super easy, taking only a minute to prepare in the microwave. I pick up a four pack at Costco for around $6, definitely worth a try. The finishing touch was, of course, a Sam Adams Winter Lager.
So give this recipe a try. Your friends will never guess its venison!