I’m a hunter and a chef, and I like to eat wild game. My preferences—in order—are antelope, deer, and then elk. The backstrap is the king’s meat. Incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful, with no gaminess—when butchered, frozen, thawed properly, and cooked at extremely high heat. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that antelope backstraps are the finest meat on Earth. Here are two simple variations of my favorite technique.
Slow-thaw the entire backstrap in the refrigerator. Cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch medallions. Dry all liquid with paper towels—this is very important. Pat meat with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper on both sides. Preheat cast iron or heavy steel pan with no oil in it for 10 minutes on high—your pan will be extremely hot, so be careful. Flash cook steaks, flipping every 60 seconds. Pat additional oil on the top of the steak after flipping it over. Cook for 3-4 minutes; the outside should be slightly charred and the inside should be medium rare.
This is a very similar technique. Preheat the grill to 600 degrees. Rub the whole backstrap with oil, salt, and pepper—you can even add granulated garlic and chili rub. Cook with the grill lid down, turning the meat often and brushing with oil to keep moist. After 15-18 minutes, the outside should be charred but the inside will be medium rare. Prepare to be wowed.
Chef Ty Hill has been a passionate hunter and chef at John Bozeman’s Bistro and Catering for nearly 30 years. Tyler teaches “Wild Game Cooking” throughout the year.