Jess Pryles

Seared Venison Backstrap with Blackberry Sauce

venison blackstrap with blackberry and thyme
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The often overlooked ‘other’ red meat, venison backstrap makes for a great meal.

After experiencing my own hunt & harvestI have a freezer full of venison and have been enjoying the challenge of coming up with new and varied recipes. Some of it is ground, some is in the form of small steaks, but along with the tenderloin, the most prized cut has to be the venison backstrap. Not everyone has the chance to have or buy venison from their local butcher, luckily most venison-based recipe can easily be substituted with beef, and certainly this one would be a perfect match for filet.

Venison can sometimes also be a little gamey, but my friend Ryan from Pitts & Spitts suggests soaking it in milk before cooking to extract some of the gamey flavors. I personally haven’t experienced any issues with the taste as yet, and have found like the backstrap is a more subtle and delicate flavor compared to beef. Because it’s a little more understated, it lends itself to be paired really well with sweeter ingredients like the blackberries, which also happen to look like shining jewels atop the perfectly medium rare back strap.

This is a great dish particularly for fall or winter, with rich berries and an amazing spice aroma. Serve it with something simple but hardly, like these perfect roast potatoes. It’s probably also a good idea to have some crusty bread on hand to mop up all that amazing sauce which will mingle with the meat juices. I think I just made myself hungry…

venison backstrap with blackberry sauce

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Seared venison backstrap with blackberry sauce

3 pounds of venison will feed about 4 people, with 3 medallions per portion.


  • 3 lb venison backstrap, whole
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • Juice & zest of one lemon
  • 2-4 cloves
  • 1-2 star anise (optional)
  • Thyme sprigs for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350f/180c.
  2. Combine salt, pepper, nutmeg in small bowl. Dry off surface of backstrap with paper towels and sprinkle spice mix liberally on top.
  3. Heat an oven proof skillet on high. Once smoking hot, place backstrap into skillet to sear, turning every minute or so to make sure all sides are cooked. Then place pan in the oven for 7-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and pan, place into foil and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing into medallions.
  5. To make the sauce - combine berries, sugar, vinegar, zest, juice, cloves and anise in a pan, and bring to boil. Add an optional pinch of salt.
  6. After about 5 minutes of boiling, you should be able to 'smash' the berries on the side of the saucepan using a wooden spoon. Continue rapidly simmering sauce a further 5-10 minutes to thicken.
  7. Place medallions on a plate, spoon over generous portions of sauce and top with sprigs of thyme.


Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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