An Easy, Delicious Way to Enjoy Deer Backstraps and Fruit

Figs are a nice, sweet compliment to venison or a great appetizer with venison poppers.

Figs are a nice, sweet compliment to venison or a great appetizer with venison poppers.

My friend Heidi lives in Arizona and is an engaging, thoughtful and funny writer. She has a cool blog site with her musings and awesome photos on food and cooking. One of her recent recipes is for a Fig and Ricotta Pizza. Before you curl your upper lip in an “Ewww!” snarl, just don’t. Ricotta cheese is light, the figs are sweet and the ham offers a bit of savory flavor. It looks fantastic for an appetizer or light meal.

By Alan Clemons
Online Editor

Before departing recently for two weeks of travel, my little fig tree was filled with green fruit. I knew when I got home they would be gone. Birds and ants are pretty adept at wiping out the ripe ones unless I get to them first. As expected, when I returned there were just two lonely figs remaining. The others were gone or, literally, half-eaten and shriveled. I played my sad trombone and enjoyed the two that were left.

We’ve written before about using fresh fruit for your venison and wild game dishes. Be it deer or elk, waterfowl or turkey, or even small game, fruit lends an extra burst of flavor. Figs are easy to grow and can provide a great bounty for your family. They’re also super for using with venison thanks to the sweetness that meshes will with the hearty taste of fresh deer meat.

Mmmm ... slow-cooked venison! (Photo:

Mmmm … slow-cooked venison! (Photo:

Scott Leysath, whose “Better Venison” cookbook is superb, loves to use fruit in his quick-prep venison and wild game dishes. Leysath will often whip up deer, elk or other game and have a little sauce of cream with blueberries, pears, orange marmalade, plums or other tasty treats, along with a little garlic or jalapeno for mild heat. It’s easy to prepare and looks good.

He also loves figs. I asked him for a quick recipe for any late-season figs and here’s what he offered:

“I’m all about figs and venison,” he said. “Butterfly a tenderloin or loin and then stuff with figs, asiago cheese, rosemary and a drizzle of balsamic syrup over it. Roll it carefully and tie. For a little extra texture, flavor and salt, wrap the whole thing with prosciutto and pan-sear until crispy.”

He added this, too: “A simple drizzle of fig-infused balsamic vinegar over a peppery grilled venison steak is freakin’ great.”

How do you make fig-infused balsamic vinegar? Pretty easily. Get a bottle of balsamic vinegar, trim the stem from the figs and quarter them, put them into the bottle with the vinegar and let them get all lovey dovey. You’ll get a sweet bite with your venison.

How do you butterfly a deer backstrap or tenderloin? It’s simple. Watch this video from Stacy Harris, who has great recipes and tips on her Game & Garden site, on how to easily do it:

If you have some fresh fruit, serve it with cheese as appetizers and then enjoy this great recipe from Harris. Be sure to check out her cookbooks, too, because they’re packed with recipes and tips!

Parmesan Venison

  • 1 1/2 lbs. venison loin
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs, dried, and seasoned
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  1. Slice venison into 1-inch pieces. Pound to 1/4 inch thick.
  2. In a plate, mix together flour, salt, and pepper. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
  3. Lightly dredge venison in the flour mixture, then the egg wash, and then the Parmesan breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Heat oil and butter in large cast iron skillet or saute pan. Cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat on each side or until browned. Place pieces on cooling rack.
  5. Place each piece of venison on a plate and serve with Basic Tomato Sauce or your favorite marinara sauce.