Move over turkey, you overblown, pseudo-celebrity of the American Thanksgiving! We deer hunters know what was actually a main course at the first celebration between the colonies and their indigenous allies.

The truest form of “Field to Table”

During the first documented “Thanksgiving” Edward Winslow recored that while Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission to provide for the feast, the Wampanoag guests showed up with five deer. That’s right; Five Deer. That’s enough to feed a lot of people. And don’t try to tell me that eating swan or seal was going to be more appetizing. Of course this doesn’t mean that turkey wasn’t necessarily on the menu, but it certainly does point to a tradition that I love about our family’s Thanksgiving.

What am I doing on a typical Thanksgiving morning? Generally I’m standing over a lit charcoal fire, monitoring a Backstrap that will be thinly sliced and served as one of the main course options for our family meal. When it’s available around our house, I’m also typically slicing a tray of sharp cheddar cheese and venison summer sausage for an Hors d’oeuvre. 

The satisfaction of being connected to a main course is unparalleled.

So, if you are truly seeking to capture both sides of the cultural melting pot of the traditional Thanksgiving, be sure to include a venison dish with your family tradition. One note: Try to do something a little more sophisticated than a pot of chili that you would prepare at hunting camp. And if no one else will eat it, that leaves more for you!

Besides, who can resist something that looks this good?

If you would like a little help with that Backstrap recipe, I like to keep it simple. Try this:

  • One whole medium Backstrap, trimmed and cut in half.
  • Mix Two TBSP Onion powder, Two TBSP Garlic Powder, Two TBSP Coarse Sea Salt, Two TBSP Chili Powder, Two TBSP Fresh Ground Black Pepper. Mix and place rub evenly on both halves. (You may add approximately one half cup brown sugar if you like additional sweetness.) Double this if you think you will need more rub. I don’t like to over-season. I like to let the grill smoke do most of the flavoring.
  • Place on a screaming hot grill. (You should only be able to hold your hand over the heat for about three seconds.)
  • Allow 5 to 8 minutes per side, or until you achieve an internal temperature of 150* for medium rare. (You’ll have to google anything beyond that, I don’t speak the well-done language when it comes to venison.)
  • Wrap in foil and let the halves rest for no less than ten minutes after removing them from the heat. Cut into desired steak sizes, and enjoy. A balsamic reduction goes great drizzled over the meat as well, but that is way too fancy for this blogger!

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