Some people find wild game off-putting. I’ve never understood that. Being the savage caveman I am, I’m perfectly content cutting a chunk of meat off an animal in the field and roasting it over an open fire, but not everyone is like me. So I’ve played around with numerous ways to help those who are hesitant about eating wild game to enjoy it. One of my favorite and most successful methods has been to use game as a substitute in traditional, familiar recipes. Beef Wellington is counted among the most famous gourmet beef dishes, and is every bit as tasty after swapping beef tenderloin for backstrap from an elk, deer, moose, bison, etc.
Beef Wellington is often viewed as a complicated dish, but it’s simple to prepare by following the proper steps. I use prosciutto instead of the more traditional Parma ham, as venison is not as fatty as beef. The fat on the prosciutto soaks into the meat a bit and prevents it from becoming dry. I prefer to serve the dish with a side of wild rice.
- 1 eight- to 12-inch-long chunk of backstrap (size varies dependent on species: longer for deer, shorter for bison, elk, or moose.)
- Three to four strips of prosciutto
- ½ cup frozen spinach
- ½ cup finely chopped button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of brown mustard
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 package (two sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- In a skillet, melt the butter and add mushrooms and spinach (after defrosting). Start cooking the mixture over medium heat. As soon as steam begins to rise, turn heat to low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is dry looking (about 10 minutes). Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper if you choose and then stick it in the refrigerator.
- Make sure all silver skin is removed from the backstrap, then rub it thoroughly with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on high and add olive oil. Once the pan is heated, sear the backstrap for a few minutes, turning frequently until brown on all sides. Remove the meat from pan and brush lightly with the brown mustard.
- Next, roll out the puff pastry to a length that extends two to three inches past the end of the tenderloin, twice as wide as the width of the meat. Lightly flour the rolling pin and countertop as needed so it doesn’t stick. Once the pastry is rolled out, lay the prosciutto vertically across the pastry. On top of this, spread a thin layer of mushroom and spinach mix, keeping a two-inch border all around. Lay the backstrap on top of the mushroom mixture, then roll the whole thing up in the puff pastry. Place this on a baking sheet and stick it all in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Once the oven is preheated, brush the Wellington with the egg yolk and then throw it in the oven to roast for 20 minutes, or until the pastry turns golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for five to six minutes before plating.
A successful hunt should be enjoyed and shared with loved ones. What I love about this recipe is that it can be easily doubled or tripled, making for a hearty and delicious family-size meal. This Backstrap Wellington recipe is a great way to impress everyone with your cooking skills and is one of my favorite holiday meals. It’s super kid-friendly and is one of the best ways I’ve found to serve game to people who are hesitant about trying it for the first time.
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