I don’t soak my venison tenderloins in buttermilk, teriyaki sauce or anything else that is supposed to get rid of the gamey flavor. If your tenderloins taste gamey, it’s your own darn fault.
This picture is from filming The Sporting Chef TV series with guest, Chef Rick Vonk from Alabama. He made an elk tenderloin on set and yes, it was delicious.
If you’re going to cook a tenderloin in the oven, it should be broiled under high heat, not slow-cooked as with lesser, tough cuts of venison. High heat will give the meat a nice sear on the outside without overcooking the center.
As a reminder, tenderloins are the flat muscles located along the inside of the spine. Outside are the larger loins, or backstraps. Tenderloins are so named because they don’t do much work. They are just along for the ride and don’t get much of a workout, so they remain soft and tender.
Ideally, this dish should be prepared in a preheated cast iron skillet. Place the skillet under the broiler for 5 minutes to get it hot, and then immediately place the meat in the skillet and return it to the broiler.
It’s also very important to let the tenderloin sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes before cooking so that the inside temperature is about the same as the outside.
As always, let the meat rest for a few minutes after removing from the hot skillet.
- 1 or 2 venison tenderloins, depending on size
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 tbsp butter
- Place tenderloins, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, mustard and onion in a zipper-lock bag. Shake bag to combine ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
- Remove bag from refrigerator, and leave at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove meat and onion from bag. Discard marinade. Place meat and onion in a preheated heavy-duty, oven-safe skillet (like cast iron), and place immediately under a preheated broiler, about 5 to 6 inches from the heat source. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, then remove skillet from broiler. Transfer meat to a plate or cutting board, and let rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whisk butter into skillet.
- To serve, slice tenderloin, and arrange on plates or platter with onion. Drizzle butter sauce over.