21-Day Dry-Aged Bourbon Backstrap
In last Wednesday’s Timber-2-Table post, we dry-aged a section of doe backstrap in the Reserve 50 dry-aging chamber. The results were delicious and fork tender. But we lost over half the original weight of the backstrap to moisture evaporation and trim. Is there a way to get the benefits of dry aging without so much loss?
Venison backstrap that has been dry-aged for 21 days while wrapped in bourbon-soaked cheesecloth.
For this post, we took a section of the backstrap from the same doe and aged it alongside the backstrap from the last post. Except this time, we wrapped the unseasoned roast with cheesecloth and soaked it in Evan Williams Outdoorsman Edition Bourbon.
Wrap the unseasoned backstrap in several layers of cheesecloth and soak with Evan Williams bourbon before aging.
We then dampened the cheesecloth with bourbon two more times during the 21-day dry-aging period. I hoped the cheesecloth would cut down on moisture loss and prevent the dry rind from forming on the meat’s surface. I also hoped that it would add a touch of bourbon flavor to the meat.
Dampen the cheesecloth periodically during the aging process.
So, did it work? The roast weighed in at 487 grams before aging. After 21 days, a full week longer than the open dry-aged roast, it weighed 331 grams: only a 33% loss. I went back and forth on trimming the outer surface. It was definitely tougher than the interior, but not nearly as hard as the outer surface of the nonwrapped backstrap. In the end, I left it on. Next time, I’ll probably trim it, although it wasn’t unpleasant. The bourbon flavor definitely soaked into the outer portion of the meat.
To cook this one, I played off the bourbon flavor with a quick sear in cast iron to medium-rare, then topped the steaks with a quick pan sauce of butter, shallot, and bourbon. The recipe came together in about 15 minutes, making it perfect for weeknight meals.
Start by slicing the backstrap into steaks.
Sear the seasoned steaks on all sides in a hot cast-iron skillet.
Season the meat on all sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the steaks for 2-3 minutes per side. Set the steaks aside and loosely tent with foil.
Sauté the shallot, add the bourbon, then remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the butter, one pat at a time, to make the sauce.
Add the diced shallot to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Sauté the shallot until soft and translucent. Add the bourbon and stir as it boils and reduces. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the butter, a pat at a time, letting each pat fully melt before adding the next. Stir to form a creamy sauce. Return the meat to the pan and spoon the sauce over. Spoon over more sauce after plating.
1-2 pounds bourbon-aged backstrap cut into steaks
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other high heat oil
1 shallot, finely diced
¼ cup bourbon
3 tablespoons butter, divided