Venison au Poivre

This is a take on the classic French recipe, using venison backstrap, the equivalent of a beef or pork loin. It’s illegal to buy or sell wild game, but some specialty grocers sell farm-raised venison. If you’re lucky enough to know a hunter, we’re usually happy to share, as a way to introduce people to game meat.

  • Backstrap, roughly 1.5 pounds
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup finely minced onion
  • ½ cup venison or beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper, roughly cracked
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Remove the backstrap from the fridge, salt well, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. After this time, preheat your oven to 425°. While heating, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Once hot, add the backstrap, and sear on all sides. At this point, the oven should be heated. Put the skillet with the meat in for 10–15 minutes, depending on thickness of the meat.  Backstrap is best rare or medium-rare, so err on the side of caution. If you have a meat thermometer, the skillet should be taken out of the oven when the meat is 130°.

Remove the meat from the skillet and tent with foil to keep hot. Put the skillet back on the stovetop on medium. Add the onion and sauté until brown, 2–3 minutes. Add the stock and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Boil this down by about half. Add the brandy and bring to a boil again, stir until the sauce has thickened, about 2–4 minutes. Turn off the stove and add the cream, stirring continuously. Once this sauce has stopped bubbling, add the other two tablespoons of butter, one at a time, stirring continuously until sauce is your desired thickness.

Slice the meat thin, and serve with the sauce.