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Wild Game: Practically Gourmet Backstrap in ‘Braising the Wild’

Jack Hennessy brings Practically Gourmet Backstrap this week in “Braising the Wild.”

Practically Gourmet Backstrap in “Braising the Wild.” Credit: Jack Hennessy
Practically Gourmet Backstrap in “Braising the Wild.”
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy does the practically impossible and puts instant potatoes and gourmet in the same recipe.

The tidbit I took away this week in “Braising the Wild” is the reminder that the difference between fresh-ground pepper and pre-ground is great. Let me emphatically embrace his point: Anything worth cooking well is worth fresh-ground pepper; make that anything worth eating is worth fresh-ground pepper.

Here is the recipe:

PRACTICALLY GOURMET BACKSTRAP

Admit it: You still wish, as an adult, that you could play with your mashed potatoes. In our household, the starchy side is a liability when served to our toddler, as dinner turns into finger-painting. Nevertheless, with this dish, you can transform instant potatoes into a plate of artwork.

Keeping with our “Cooking Through Quarantine” theme, most of these ingredients are easily found in most cupboards or quickly sourced from the grocery store. While not incredibly fancy, mashed potatoes and carved backstrap topped with diced onions and tomatoes can make for a semi-gourmet presentation. It’ll certainly taste fantastic!

I recently invested in another pepper grinder, as I believe freshly ground black pepper on any cut of steak makes a big difference versus the pre-ground stuff.

Ingredients (two servings):

16 ounces venison backstrap

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon salted butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced

Olive oil

1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon each of following: dry parsley, basil, oregano, and ancho chili powder

For instant potatoes:

1-1/3 Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes flakes

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons salted butter

1-1/4 cup cold water

Pull backstrap an hour prior to cooking to bring to room temp. Liberally salt and pepper (freshly ground pepper tastes best).

About the same time as pulling backstrap, in a medium skillet (preferably cast iron) heated on medium, add a thin layer of oil along with diced onion. Lightly salt and pepper. Stir often until a slight sear appears along edges (may take 10 minutes or so). Turn heat to low.

Stir onions often until sugars release and begin to caramelize onions, turning them a shade of brown. This will likely take 30-45 minutes. Once this happens, add 1 tablespoon salted butter. Continue to stir for a few minutes until butter is absorbed.

Add a separate pot to another burner and heat on low. Add caramelized onions, plus can of diced tomatoes and parsley, basil, oregano, and ancho chili powder. Keep on low and stir occasionally until read ty serve.

In same skillet used for onions, heat to medium and once 400 degrees surface temp, add backstrap.

Continue to turn, searing all sides, remove once internal temp reads 115/120 and allow to rest on a plate uncovered for 5-10 minutes prior to carving.

Follow instructions on instant potatoes for 4 servings though add 1/3 cup more milk to make creamier. Use a large spoon to plop down potatoes on plate and smear into a comet shape.

Add sliced backstrap along comet and top with tomatoes-and-onion mix. Enjoy!.