John Besh's Recipe for Peppered Venison Backstrap

John Besh, an award-winning New Orleans chef, shares his recipe for peppered backstrap with muscadine and red wine

Very simply put, we all know how to slice a backstrap into small medallions or steaks and sear them in a pan or on a grill. However, here's a great sauce to make that's equally good with any game you may cook. Think of the muscadine jelly as any jelly you may have at home or at the camp. I love to substitute fig preserves, pear, plum, or quince--it all works equally well.

Ingredients -- Serves 6
2 venison loins (backstrap), denuded and cut into 2- to 3-ounce steaks
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup muscadine jelly (or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Using a butcher's mallet, give each cutlet a small hit or two just prior to seasoning each one with salt and pepper.

3. To a hot pan over high heat, add oil. Sear each cutlet, one or two at a time, in hot oil until it is brown on both sides. Place each browned steak on a sheet pan and reserve.

4. Once all of the steaks have been cooked, add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook while stirring until they become translucent and soft. Add jelly, vinegar, and wine and bring to a boil. While stirring at a hard boil, let the liquid reduce by half. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.

5. Just prior to serving, reheat the venison in a hot oven. Be careful not to overcook (beyond medium-rare to medium).

Serving Tip: To serve, place the cutlets on a plate with whatever potatoes or starch you may want to serve. Spoon generous amounts of the muscadine sauce over each one.

Chef John Besh is an award-winning chef/owner at several restaurants in New Orleans, including Restaurant August. Want to try more of his recipes? Then pick up his new book, My New Orleans ($45; Andrews McMeel Publishing), which has more than 200 of his best dishes.