Venison Backstrap

Posted on 11/23/2018

Walk into a butcher shop and ask for a backstrap.

You typically can’t—it isn’t a cut of meat marketed for domestic livestock. Backstrap is an endearing hunting term that describes the prime cuts of deer (i.e. venison) on top of the ribs and along both sides of the backbone.

Location, location

A boning knife can easily remove the backstraps from a carcass by following the edges of the spine down to the top of the ribs, where the cut follows the top of the rib bones curving down the sides.

The portion of the backstrap closest to the neck would be called rib steaks on domestic livestock. If a portion of the ribs was cut with the backstrap, you could have a standing rib roast or bone-in rib steaks. A rib bone cut clean and long with a portion of backstrap is also known as a tomahawk steak, shaped just like the tool.

Backstrap closest to the hindquarters is known as New York (NY) strip or strip loin steaks in domestic livestock. Anyone who has purchased meat in a butcher shop will know the rib steaks and NY strips are expensive cuts of beef.

Eat with your eyes

What do hunters love about the backstrap? They see it similarly to the delicious cuts of meat displayed in grocery stores. If you’re having trouble getting your family and friends to eat wild game, say you’re grilling rib steaks. It gives a more familiar mental picture of a supermarket…even though the wild game butcher provides meat just as delicious!

A few easy steps

Backstraps don’t require a lot of work to taste incredible. A few easy steps, and backstrap will be a meal you—and your friends or family—always look forward to.

  1. Trim your meat of silver skin, which runs on the outside edge of the loin or backstrap. As you move up through the rib steak portion of the loin, there is more connective tissue, which does break down into gelatin and collagen when cooked. Don’t worry about the internal connective tissue and just focus on the outer edges.
  2. Backstrap is best cooked in large pieces. Venison is lean and without fat, it cooks fast and can dry out. Avoid thinly sliced steaks—the bigger the better here.
  3. Marinate your large cut for at least four hours in your favourite marinade.
  4. When it’s time, heat your grill to med-high, and cook. We’re aiming for medium or medium-rare. Use your thermometer—rare has an internal temperature of 125°F, where a medium rare steak is heated to 135°F, and a medium to 145°F, medium-well is 150°F.
  5. Let the meat rest 10 minutes or so and carve it when ready to serve.

© 2020. All Rights Reserved. All website design, text, graphics, photos, and the selection and arrangement thereof, are the sole property of Alberta Conservation Association