Last Friday my husband and I attended a cooking class at Central Market on Grilling Wild Game. I’d heard about the class, which was co-hosted by Texas Parks and Wildlife, at my Becoming an Outdoors Woman class, and like every class I’ve taken at Central Market, this one did not disappoint!
Our teacher was Louis Ortiz, and as a born and bred Texan he has plenty of experience hunting, fishing and cooking, and led the class with humor and passion. The hands-on class included boneless quail, venison backstrap, and wild boar chops on the grill, plus barbeque sauce, a roasted potato salad, beans, and for dessert: a fantastic apple pie.
I have to admit that as much as I’d come to the class for the tips on cooking game, I fell in love with that apple pie crust, and it will now take the place of my grandma’s recipe. Sorry grandma, but you’ve been beaten out by vanilla vodka. Flaky, light, lightly studded with salt crystals… oh, that pie crust will be on my mind for a while!
I can’t remember if I’ve ever eaten quail before, but these petite boneless birds were marinated in a bright, citrus marinade and smoky delicious from the grill. The venison was wrapped in bacon to keep it juicy, and was also delicious. I’m planning to use the recipe on the backstrap that’s currently resting in my freezer. The boar chops were treated with a simple rub, then grilled to perfection, topped with a barbeque sauce we made in class. That sauce was perfect for them, too – smoky hot, slightly sweet, and tangy. When Louis told us that you could freeze the barbeque sauce, I made an oath to myself that I’d be making up a batch soon, to have on hand.
The potato salad was also a bit of a change from the usual fare – using oven-roasted potatoes and a perfect mixture of mustard and mayo it was tasty, slightly crunchy, and definitely not the gloopy version you find at some picnics or barbeques. I’m planning to claim this recipe as my own as summer and outdoor parties begin!
Here’s how we cooked the venison!
Grilled Venison Backstrap
Sprinkle the backstrap with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Wrap it in apple-smoked bacon strips. Place the backstrap on a pan in the fridge for at least an hour. Heat your grill to 350 degrees F and place the backstrap away from the heat. Grill, turning occasionally, until the meat reaches a temperature of 135-140*. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
*Venison is extremely lean, therefore if you like your meat done more than medium rare, you should choose something other than venison – at higher than medium rare, it is dry and tough. Feel free to research cooking temperatures and types of meat to get something you’re comfortable with.