Capers are bright and briny, providing a nice pop of salt to dishes. It pairs well with smoked salmon and other seafood dishes, but few people think to serve it with red meat. This caper-mustard sauce stands up well to the gamy, smoky flavor of grilled venison.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 pound venison loin, trimmed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, divided
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 to 3 sprigs thyme
- Splash madeira wine
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, smooth or coarse ground
- Canola/vegetable oil for greasing grill grates
- Three hours prior to grilling, take the venison loin out of the refrigerator to come up to room temperature. Tie meat with kitchen twine and then generously season with salt.
- Prepare one side of the grill for high heat cooking, i.e., if using a charcoal grill, place hot coals on one side of the grill only; if using a gas grill, turn on enough burners to only cover the area of the meat.
- When the grill grates get searing hot, grease them with canola/vegetable oil. Pat venison loin dry with paper towels and season with a little bit more salt and freshly cracked pepper. Grill on all sides to form a crust. Remove loin from the grill.
- Close the lid of the grill and allow the coals to cool off to 300 degrees, or adjust the heat on a gas grill. If you’re not confident with the finger test to check for doneness, stick a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the meat—do not let the end of the probe pass through the meat.
- When the grill cools down to 300 degrees, place the loin back onto the grill, but this time in the coolest area that you can find. Close the lid and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the loin reaches about 125-127 degrees. This usually takes about 15 minutes with backstrap from an adult deer. Remove meat from the grill and tent with foil to rest for at least 5 minutes. The finishing temperature should reach 130-135 degrees.
- Meanwhile, to make the caper-mustard sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to turn brown, add the capers and sauté until they turn golden at the edges. Remove the capers and set aside, and then turn heat down to medium. Add olive oil to the pan and sauté the shallot until softened. Add enough madeira wine to cover the bottom of the pan, the thyme and cook until the alcohol boils away. Then add chicken stock and mustard and reduce by half, stirring frequently, increasing heat as needed. Take off heat and stir in remaining cold butter. Season to taste. Discard thyme.
- When venison has sufficiently rested, cut the backstrap into medallions and serve immediately with the sauce and capers sprinkled on top. If the sauce thickens too much, reheat and thin out with more chicken stock.