Combining bourbon’s oaky notes and the sweetness of maple syrup is the winning formula behind this cocktail-inspired infusion for venison backstrap. Tempered with a dash of citrusy bitterness from Angostura, the marinade makes wild game and dark meats sing. Woodsy, resinous rosemary is also a fitting addition here, though you can easily substitute other hardy herbs like thyme, oregano, or winter savory—or a medley.
Don’t be daunted by the ingredient list. Consider this recipe an easy two-step rather than a complex line dance. Simply toss the marinade ingredients in a gallon-size freezer bag with the loin and let the magic happen in the fridge. As for the savory pecan crust, a few pulses in a food processor are all it takes to create the coarse crumbs that get spackled to the meat with a slather of Dijon mustard. You could use breadcrumbs alone, but the pecans add richness, texture, and that distinctive nutty flavor, which works beautifully with the other ingredients.
Marinating with alcohol is a terrific way to infuse a protein with lots of flavor, but timing is key. Marinating too long can change the texture of the meat in an unpleasing way. So if you’re marinating overnight, be sure to remove the meat from the marinade in the morning, pat it dry thoroughly, and leave it uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator. It can air dry until you’re ready to bring it to room temperature for cooking. Creating a really dry exterior helps the coating cling to the meat.
This roast loin is delicious sliced into medallions and served just the way it comes out of the oven. Or try it topped with an easy herb-and-citrus gremolata (recipe follows) for a pop of color and flavorful tang.