Bacon Wrapped Backstrap
There is nothing more exciting than the coming of deer season to a deer hunter. Whether you hunt with a bow, gun or a muzzleloader deer season is a much-anticipated time of year and if you love to cook wild game that excitement can increase exponentially. I really enjoy hunting mature whitetail bucks and I do so every year. I also hunt does and get just as excited when a fat doe walks in as I do with a mature buck, well almost. There’s no denying the adrenaline rush produced by a mature buck making his way into bow range that’s for sure. I pass on does during the rut, but any other time of the season, I look forward to a nice doe and the great table fare she will provide.
The whitetail deer provides us with a delicacy second to none in my opinion. Backstrap over an open flame in camp is my favorite and the most simple way to prepare whitetail backstrap, but this recipe is the second simplest way to prepare it and my second favorite way to do so. I have enjoyed this recipe for many years and now my family enjoys it with me. When my kids hear I am making bacon wrapped backstrap they smile and can’t wait and they’re picky eaters.
- Toothpicks to secure the bacon
- 1 pound of venison backstrap
- 1 bottle of Italian dressing
- 1/2 pound of bacon
- Optional shredded cheese and jalapenos
Backstrap preparation begins in the field essentially at the moment you locate your deer. I feel that quick and careful field dressing is the most important aspect to good venison for the table. Field dressing will aid in the cooling process and allows the meat to cool as soon as possible as you get it home or back to camp. Another tip that so many hunters overlook or are just not aware of is aging of the meat. Venison that is aged properly is much more tender than venison that is frozen shortly after the kill. You can hang your deer or quarter it and place it in a refrigerator if available. If the weather is warm and you’re camping then a cooler with ice will work fine. Drain the water each day so your meat isn’t soaking in water.
Before preparing bacon wrapped backstrap first remove all sinew and fat from the meat with a good knife. I like to use a fillet knife for this process. Just a note. I leave this fat on the meat I freeze and remove it during preparation of the venison. The fat will help protect your venison from freezer burn. Also freeze your venison in whole pieces instead of cutting into steaks just freeze a whole piece the size that will make the steaks you need for a meal. This will also help protect your venison from freezer burn. Individual steaks don’t just have more area exposed to the freezer but also it is exposed to oxygen, which is the prime ingredient of spoilage.
Once you have your backstrap free of fat and sinew cut it into sections about the same width as your bacon strips. Venison is lean and won’t shrink that much, but cutting it at the same or slightly narrower than your bacon will allow the bacon to wrap around the sides of the backstrap as it cooks. Place the backstrap in a bowl of cold salt water and refrigerate for at least an hour. This will draw any excess blood from the cuts.
Drain the salt water and rinse the backstrap well with cold water. Add 1 bottle of Italian dressing to a Ziploc bag and place the backstrap inside one cut at a time, this allows even coating of the meat. I like to use a Ziploc vacuum bag to help force the marinade into the meat, but you can use just a bowl and it will marinate your backstrap just fine. However, the Ziploc vacuum bag will cut your marinating time in half. If you just use a regular Ziploc or a bowl marinate for 2 to 4 hours. With the vacuum bag, 1 to 2 hours is plenty. After marinating in the fridge, remove and rinse and pat dry with a clean towel or paper towels. Drying the meat will keep the bacon from sliding off the cut while wrapping. Cold bacon helps with this as well.
Wrap the strap
Once your backstrap has air dried a few minutes start wrapping the bacon. Work fast while wrapping and if there is a game on TV or anything distracting you remove only a couple of slices of bacon at a time. If the bacon is allowed to warm the fat will make wrapping a difficult and messy procedure.
One slice of bacon is usually just the right length to make it around the backstrap, unless you have a young deer. If this is the case you can either wrap the extra around the cut or you can trim the excess before pinning it with a toothpick. You can leave a little toothpick sticking out so you can use it to help you with the cooking process. I prefer thin sliced bacon, but you can use thick cut. The most important thing is to get a quality brand bacon or the slices will just fall to pieces during the wrapping process.
Cooking your backstrap
You can cook your bacon wrapped backstrap just like you would any other piece and I tried that but didn’t like the half raw bacon that remained when the backstrap reached medium rare, which is the best doneness for venison but still a personal preference. My answer to the half raw bacon was to cook the bacon first by standing the backstrap on edge and slowly roll the cuts to cook the bacon. The bacon will keep your venison from cooking as much so doing this first is vital to maintaining the desirable medium rareness we’re looking for.
Once your bacon is done cook each side of the backstrap until medium rare or your preference. The bacon will not get crispy because the meat is insulating and taking some of the heat so just cook until browned and it will be fine. The bacon will continue to cook a little while you are finishing the sides of your backstrap leaving you with a great morsel of venison with a little crispy on the edges. Remove your bacon wrapped backstrap from the skillet and set aside to rest for just a minute before digging in. A great touch to this recipe is a little shredded cheese on top. I like a pinch of pepper jack and a spoonful of jalapeno pieces. Enjoy the Harvest.