One of my best friends is a bird trainer, and routinely hacks down donated deer carcasses for raptor food...however, on occasion, she will casually set aside a nice backstrap or two for me when their freezers runneth over. I am very spoiled by this, and have come to love the subtly feral taste of venison even more than I like the taste of beef. If you can't come by venison from a local source, a reputable online source would be D'artagnan. Of course, you could make this recipe with other meats, but I highly suggest searching out venison. It pairs exceptionally well with a savory fruit sauce, and after trying a few different fruit sauces over time, I think I've concocted something here that I'm going to stick with in the future. The picture may not look like much, especially since I didn't have my new DSLR on hand, but I promise you that the blueberry sauce is delicious. You could skew much classier than I did and serve the venison over something that isn't egg noodles, but I wanted a good catch-all for that sauce!
Venison Steaks with Blueberry Sauce
Serving sizes will vary depending on the size of your backstrap
*1 venison backstrap
*1 tablespoon plus 1/2 tablespoon butter
*1 teaspoon high smoke point oil
*1/3 cup abbey-style ale (Ommegang's Abbey Ale, if you please)
*1 cup beef broth
*1 heaping cup blueberries (I only had frozen on hand)
*1 tablespoon minced shallots
*1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Take the backstrap out to temper for about 30 minutes before preparation, and then slice it into steaks about 1 1/2 inches thick. In a small saucepan bring the beef stock and blueberries to a boil and reduce down until you have a cup of the stock/blueberry mixture.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and melt a tablespoon of butter drizzled with the oil. When hot, sear the venison steaks 2 1/2-3 minutes on each side, in batches if necessary. 3 minutes and you're verging into medium-rare territory which is the absolute limit - venison will become unpleasantly tough if you cook it past medium-rare. Using tongs, briefly kiss the sides, and then transfer to a warm platter. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the shallots and saute quickly before adding the abbey ale. Deglaze, stirring and scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon before adding the cup of broth and blueberries. Sprinkle in the thyme and simmer, stirring, until mixture has reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and then whisk half a tablespoon of butter, plus salt and pepper to taste. Ladle over the steaks and serve with a salad of dark greens as well as something to mop up the sauce.