Roasted Mediterranean Venison Backstrap

We’ve all heard it before. You know the phrase. The one that nearly all hunters have heard when they bring up how excited they are to fill the freezer with venison. “I can’t eat deer, it’s too gamey.” Yep, that’s the one. While I certainly understand why some folks may be hesitant to try venison, the misconception that it’s “too gamey” comes from eating venison that was handled, processed, or cooked poorly. I’ve known many hunters over the years who only bread and fry backstrap or make chili and jerky, and that’s about it. While these are no doubt classics that I still love, there is a plethora of ways to prepare delicious meals for the whole family to enjoy.

My wife had never tried venison before we started dating and was a little apprehensive at first, so I took it upon myself to learn a variety of recipes that I knew we could both enjoy together. After a few meals and an open mind, she was hooked. Venison remains a major staple in our household, and we enjoy it in dozens of ways that your average non-hunter may not consider when they think of eating deer. This roasted Mediterranean backstrap recipe is one of our favorites, and I can assure you that “gamey” is the last thing that comes to mind with the first bite.

Ingredients

  • Venison backstrap
  • Salt (try garlic salt for a little extra flavor)
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Minced shallots
  • Finely chopped Greek oregano
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup red wine (beef broth works great too)
  • 1 tbsp grass-fed butter
Brown the backstrap on all sides in a cast-iron skillet before roasting in the oven.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Rub the backstrap with olive oil using a brush and season liberally with garlic salt and black pepper.
  • Heat remaining olive oil in a hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Place backstrap in skillet and brown on all sides.
  • Remove backstrap from skillet, place in a separate pan (preferably another cast-iron) and place in oven until internal temperature reaches your preferred level of doneness (I prefer the rarer side at about 130 degrees).
  • While the backstrap is in the oven, place minced shallots in the original cast iron and cook until soft.
  • Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar and add wine and Greek oregano.
  • Cook on high until sauce reduces from a liquid to a thin syrup.
  • Add cold grass-fed butter to the sauce and stir.
  • Let backstrap rest for 5-10 minutes prior to slicing.
Brown the shallots in a pan before adding vinegar, wine and Greek oregano to produce the balsamic reduction sauce.

We serve this tasty backstrap over a bed of organic quinoa and brown rice along with the sauce. We like a side of oven roasted brussels sprouts seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a handful of feta cheese. If you’re looking to introduce someone new to venison or expand your own wild game repertoire, I highly encourage giving this mouthwatering recipe a try.

I am a big proponent of altering recipes to your liking, so feel free to substitute any of the listed items with something that is preferable for your palate. I used to always follow recipes exactly, but over the years I have learned that winging it with certain ingredients can increase the flavor and keep the cooking process fun. 


About Ben Westfall

Ben Westfall is NDA's Conservation Coordinator. Ben received both his bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Southeast Missouri State University with an emphasis on wildlife conservation.