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Grilled Rack Of Venison w/ Blueberry Compote

grilled rack of venison sliced and served with blueberry sauce

If you’ve followed my blog long, you know my recipes are heavily influenced by my travels during many years as an active duty Marine. From international cuisine like Caribbean jerk chicken, to the local favorites like San Diego style street tacos. This grilled rack of venison has different roots.

I grew up in Michigan, home of the white tail deer and let me tell you, we ate a lot of venison meat when I was a kid. Not because it was a delicacy (I mean it is) but that’s not why we ate it so much. It was our primary source of protein because we could harvest it ourselves, for very cheap.

Fast forward many years and I am no longer a hunter, but still love venison. And finding good venison meat isn’t as easy to find as beef or chicken. So, try sourcing it from purveyors like New Zealand venison. This grass fed venison has all the flavor I Iove, with none of “gaminess” that turn many people off to game meat.

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What Is Rack Of Venison?

The rack of venison is harvested from a deer’s loin or “saddle” section. It’s what you could call a trophy meat as the presentation is an absolute centerpiece for any dinner table.

graphic showing sections of a deer for venison meat

There’s generally a decent amount of work that goes into Frenching the bones from this tender, flavorful piece of meat. That’s not the case with a rack of venison from New Zealand venison, they come Frenched and cleaned.

There will be some silverskin on the meat, which I recommend trimming off. It won’t render down and makes for an unpleasant mouth feel. There isn’t much and it comes off easy with a sharp boning knife.

silverskin trimmed from venison backstrap

Are Venison Tenderloin And Backstrap The Same Thing?

These terms are often used interchangeably. So, it’s no surprise that there is some confusion here. In short though, they are different cuts of meat.

sliced rack of venison

The tenderloins are very small pieces of meat that are inside of the animal’s ribcage. The backstrap on the other hand, is located outside of the ribcage and runs down the saddle of the deer, near the spine.

What Is The Best Way to Cook Venison Backstrap?

There are plenty of ways to cook this coveted cut of meat. Pan seared, and oven roasted are two popular techniques.

My favorite however, is of course the grill. Each technique produces a slightly different flavor profile, I just prefer the flavor that comes from getting this cut of meat over some live fire. Grilled rack of venison is truly a treat.

rack of venison being seared on a grill

I don’t smoke the meat, though you certainly could. Instead I prefer to bring it up to temperature using indirect heat, and then searing it over direct heat to finish it off.

This technique, called the reverse sear technique, works really well with leaner cuts of meat like venison. It allows the meat to cook evenly, without getting it overdone on the outside and undercooked in the middle. This is especially important when there is little fat to keep the meat moist.

grilled rack of venison sliced on a cutting board

Tips For Grilling a Rack of Venison

Grill Temperature: Because of how lean venison meat is, it’s important to bring the temp of the rack up slowly. Use a reliable leave-in thermometer to ensure your grill is cooking at 225°F, and no hotter.
Meat Temperature: Using the same leave-in thermometer, monitor the meat’s temperature. I recommend cooking over indirect heat to 115°F. This will result in a finished medium rare rack of venison. Because it’s so lean, I don’t recommend venison at more than medium rare. 
Searing: After removing the rack of venison from the indirect heat, let it rest 10 minutes while covered loosely with foil. While the venison is resting, stoke your coals to get them as hot as possible. This will help with a quick sear and prevent overcooking.
Serving: Because the venison has already rested, you’ll be able to slice and serve hot. No need to rest it again after it’s been seared.

grilled venison on a cutting board

How To Grill A Rack Of Venison

Serves: 3-4 | Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 45 mins

Ingredients:
1 rack of venison
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp rosemary salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper

For The Sauce:
2 tbsp avocado oil, or other neutral oil
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup  water
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

Step 1: Remove the venison from the refrigerator and remove any silver skin on the meat. Allow it to temper at room temperature while lighting your grill and set it up for two zone cooking. Establish temperature at 225°F.

Step 2: While the grill is preheating, rub the venison with olive oil and season with rosemary salt and pepper. Insert leave in thermometer into thickest portion of meat, and set aside till the grill is preheated.

seasoned rack of venison on a cutting board

Step 3: Place the rack of venison on the grill over indirect heat, bones towards the heat. Close the lid and allow the venison to cook till it reaches 115°F.

rack of venison over indirect heat on a grill

Step 4: While venison is cooking, heat oil for the sauce over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the diced onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil while whisking, then reduce to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken.

Step 5: Remove the rack of venison from the grill when it reaches 115°F. Tent with foil and allow it to rest while stoking the coals to achieve high heat.

Step 6: Place the venison back on the grill over direct heat. Sear all sides of the venison for a total of five minutes, turning often in order to achieve an overall char.

Step 7: Remove the venison from the grill, slice and serve hot with warm blueberry sauce.

grilled backstrap on cutting board
sliced grilled rack of vension

Grilled Rack of Venison

5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 rack venison
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp rosemary salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper

For The Sauce

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • ½ small sweet onion finely diced
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Instructions

  • Remove the venison from the refrigerator and allow it to temper at room temperature. Light your grill and set it up for two zone cooking. Establish temperature at 225°F.
  • While the grill is preheating, rub the venison with olive oil and season with rosemary salt and pepper. Insert leave in thermometer into thickest portion of meat, and set aside till the grill is preheated.
  • Place the rack of venison on the grill over indirect heat. Close the lid and allow the venison to cook till it reaches 115°F.
  • While venison is cooking, heat oil for the sauce over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the diced onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil while whisking, then reduce to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken.
  • Remove the rack of venison from the grill when it reaches 115°F. Tent with foil and allow it to rest while stoking the coals to achieve high heat.
  • Place the venison back on the grill over direct heat. Sear all sides of the venison for a total of five minutes, turning often in order to achieve an overall char.
  • Remove the venison from the grill, slice and serve with warm blueberry sauce.

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