Culinary Creativity And Completing The Circle
By Chris Larsen
Foremost Outdoor TV's Chris Larsen with a new twist on a deer camp staple.
We often read about great conquests over wary whitetails or other cunning creatures but what is missing from just about all of these stories is the end game. The author is happy to tell you about his stand placement, special scent blocking clothing, his superior weapon, and well, you get the idea. Besides sending the great trophy to the taxidermist, what happened to the rest? This is the meat of the problem if you know what I mean.
I have stomached my share of badly prepared wild game in camps across this great nation. When provided with a plate like this, chew hard and swallow harder because we owe it to our quarry to complete the circle. Most of the time the culinary sin is overcooking but sometimes the dish is just prepared with no sense of creativity. Just a few hundred years ago people sailed for months to find spices. Is taking a little seasoning salt to the cabin too much to ask?
My most vivid memory of a tasty camp meal goes back to the days of my youth. It was my second year of deer camp and my uncle stalked a mule deer fawn from a lawn chair. Uncle Donald was suffering from cancer and was in camp for the last time that year. While the rest of the crew hiked the Rocky Mountain foothills of Wyoming, Uncle Donald spied a few deer using the field adjacent to our camp. We returned absent any deer while he happily provided a meal of backstraps and tenderloins.
Affectionately known as The Old Buck, my grandfather was a camp cook of legendary status. Born of rugged, Danish farming stock, The Old Buck knew his way around the butcher block and the frying pan. That evening he prepared a heaping pile of venison for seven men and one hungry 12-year-old. As grandpa continued to cook the tasty morsels of meat, grandson continued to eat until he was filled to the max. It was the dinner of kings. About five hours later, I awoke from my slumber and the venison evacuated my body through the intake valve. First lesson in overindulgence duly noted.
As apex predators on the spinning ball we call Earth, when our hunting expeditions end in failure both prey and predator move on in all but a few tragic occasions. On the other hand, hunting is truly life and death for the animals we pursue. This equation is common to other predators like bears, cougars, and wolves as well. The big difference is, a bear will eat deer the same way every time. Venison is not part of a recipe for the bear. Eating for him is a matter of survival, not enjoyment. While there are still folks going hungry in this country, for most of us walking away from food is a bigger issue than obtaining it. Cabelas sells more extra large shirts than size small.
In my house, wild game is a delicacy. Like most city gals, my wife wasn’t raised as an anti-hunter, but a non-hunter. She has a connection to the outdoors and loves to go hiking, canoeing, and fishing. She supports my pursuits and actively promotes hunting as something that “will be good for our kids.” But guns and hunting just weren’t part of her upbringing. She will often eat it just to humor me but rarely does she eat wild game and say the words, “this is really good”. The backstraps from this season’s farm country deer are tender and tasty. It’s a little strange to hear her excited about eating venison but she’s sold on my latest concoction. I call it Steakhouse Style Backstrap and even my wife loves it!
Steakhouse Style Backstrap
- 12 inch long slab of backstrap
- 6 strips of bacon
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
- Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 8 oz. container of bleu cheese
Preparation & Grilling:
- Trim the silver off the backstrap, then cut the meat in half lengthwise. This will create two long, thin strips of meat.
- Cut the strips in 1-½” pieces and wrap each piece with a half strip of bacon. Use a toothpick to hold the bacon in place. Season and salt as desired.
- Pour enough Worcestershire Sauce into a pie plate to just cover the bottom of the dish. Place the prepared pieces of venison in the plate and refrigerate for one hour. To avoid an overpowering taste, I don’t recommend letting the meat sit in the sauce longer than an hour.
- Preheat your grill to 450 degrees. The key to searing meat is having a hot grill.
- Cook the venison for 4-½ to 5 minutes on each side. Open the grill to turn the meat only. This should give you medium rare meat. For rare, cook a minute less.
- After the second side has cooked for 5 minutes, flip the meat again and apply a dab of butter and a half teaspoon of bleu cheese to the top of each piece. Lower the lid for one more minute to melt the cheese.
- Remove from the grill and enjoy. This meal is best served with a Merlot or Cabernet.