Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lessons from my Father's family

Venison Tenderloin or "Backstrap" makes a very elegant meal.

Lessons from my Father's family came at an early age. My sister & I were initiated into a world of Texas ranch life of strong family ties, cattle, hunting, fishing & traditional Texas meals that seemed to go on for days.

Being raised in that life we learned that our ancestors who were hunters & ranchers were fierce guardians of the land & it's natural resources. During the tough times of recessions & depressions the sustenance of the Texas wildlife kept our family fed. My Grandfather, Father & Uncles were avid hunters who kept all matter of game on the dinner table. Deer hunting season each Fall at the ranch was an event. It is because of these family meals that I have a great respect for venison on a dinner table.

Deer meat is typically lower in calories and fat, yet higher in iron, than beef. For example, a 3 oz. serving of deer meat contains 134 calories, 2.7 g of fat and 3.8 mg of iron, while a 3 oz. serving of beef tenderloin contains 275 calories, 21 g of fat and 2.6 mg of iron.
Marinate the tenderloin 1-2 hours

Texas Venison Tenderloin
2 pounds venison tenderloin/backstrap*, cleaned of any silvery membrane
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (reserve 1 Tbsp)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 strips of bacon, uncooked

Rinse venison and pat dry. Season liberally with garlic & pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Rub into meat and let marinate for 1-2 hours. Remove tenderloin from marinade, pat dry then wrap tenderloin with bacon strip & secure with toothpicks.(ie: corkscrew style) If the tenderloin is very large use a strip & a half to go the length of the meat.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. Pan fry venison, turning to brown, until medium, about 5 minutes total for a two-inch thick backstrap. Remove from heat and tent with foil. If you desire the tenderloin to be less rare you can always cook more but under-cooking is easier than over cooking. Slice venison at an angle and serve immediately.
*I used this marinade for 2 tenderloins. The tenderloin is also called the backstrap
Make certain to rest the tenderloin & tent with foil before slicing.