The Wild South

Venison Backstrap in the Freezer? Let Larry White Be Your Guide

The South Carolina–based chef and outdoorsman brings an inspiring approach to wild game and fish. Get his recipe for coriander-cured venison loin

Plated Coriander Cured Venison Loin

Photo: courtesy of Larry White

Coriander-cured backstrap with wild rice fritters and blueberry sauce.

I’ve been following the wild game chef Larry White on his website and Instagram for a couple of years now, hooked on his aspirational—but not out of reach—approach to cooking Southern game and fish. His lush food photography is pretty addictive as well. How this guy has stayed relatively under the radar is a mystery to me. A former U.S. Coast Guard chef, culinary school graduate, and veteran of Charleston restaurants (Peninsula Grill, Circa 1886), White lives outside McClellanville, South Carolina, and hunts big chunks of public land like the Francis Marion National Forest and fishes the Lowcountry’s tidal creeks and barrier islands. I’m such a fan that I’ve even called him up a few times to ask about his approach to cooking venison and ducks when I’m in need of a dose of inspiration.

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White counts as major influences a few chefs who have helped refashion the global conversation about game and fish cookery. René Redzepi, of Copenhagen’s lauded wild-foods-centric Noma, inspired him to center his cooking approach around the particular attributes of specific ingredients. And reading The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, by the James Beard Award–winning chef Sean Sherman, focused his attention on pairing local ingredients such as berries—“I use a lot of berries,” White says—with locally harvested proteins. 

photo: courtesy of Larry White
Larry White.

This venison backstrap recipe, which pairs spice-rubbed loins with blueberry sauce and wild rice fritters, is a perfect example. “I like a dish that’s simple in the sense that each component stands on its own merits,” White explains. “You know what it is. There aren’t a lot of binders in the wild rice fritters. The venison is cured with a rub that isn’t so heavy. Every ingredient is going to shine.” And the sauce also works well with other types of game, including waterfowl and wild boar. 

photo: courtesy of Larry White
The spice-rubbed backstrap.

If you’re anything like me, you probably have some backstraps sitting in the freezer, and now’s the perfect time of year to pull them out, White figures, as we move out of the soups-sausages-and-stews season and those larger cuts of meat can take center stage. The first step in this recipe is what White calls “quick curing” the meat. Once the backstrap is slathered with the coriander rub, it rests in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t wrap it. Airflow around the backstrap will help the cure adhere, and create a tacky, dry finish for a better char. 

Follow T. Edward Nickens on Instagram @enickens and find more Wild South columns here.


  • Coriander-Cured Venison Backstrap with Wild Rice Fritters and Dried Blueberry Sauce (Yield: 2 to 4 servings)

  • For the venison loins and rub

    • 4 tsp. whole coriander

    • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds

    • 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns

    • 2 tsp. fennel seeds

    • 1 tsp. dried basil

    • 1 tsp. dried thyme

    • 2 tsp. ancho chile powder

    • 2 tsp. kosher salt

    • 2 (8-oz.) venison loin portions

    • 3 tbsp. high smoke point cooking oil (avocado, canola, or peanut)

  • For the dried blueberry sauce

    • ½ cup dried blueberries

    • 1 cup apple juice

    • 2 cups black cherry juice

    • 1¾ cups water

    • ¼ cup maple vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar

    • ¾ cup dried tart cherries

    • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

    • Kosher salt, to taste

  • For the wild rice fritters

    • 1½ cups cooked and cooled wild rice

    • 1 egg

    • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

    • ¼ cup fine cornmeal (White prefers Marsh Hen Mill)

    • 1 tbsp. bacon fat, lard, or duck fat

    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    • High smoke point oil for frying (avocado, canola, or peanut)


  1. Prepare the venison loins: Place the coriander, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a large skillet and toast over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely, then grind with the remaining spices in a spice or coffee grinder. Rub the spice mixture all over the loins. Place loins onto a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. If you don’t have a wire rack, the baking sheet or a plate will work fine. Place in the refrigerator and leave uncovered overnight.

  2. Make the blueberry sauce: Combine the dried blueberries, apple juice, and black cherry juice in a pot. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the water and vinegar, and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half. Remove the sauce from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Pour the sauce back into the pot, add the dried cherries, and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes or until it reduces to the consistency of maple syrup. Stir in the fresh basil. Season with salt to taste.

  3. Make the wild rice fritters: Preheat your oven to the warm setting. Mix all the fritter ingredients together until well combined. Form into roughly 2-inch patties (6 to 8 fritters). Add 2 inches of cooking oil to a pan and fry at around 330°F until golden brown, flipping once. Place in the warm oven while you cook the venison. (Note: Placing the formed fritters in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before frying will help them to set up and keep their shape.)

  4. Cook the venison loins: In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, add the 3 tbsp. cooking oil. When the oil starts to lightly smoke, add the loins. Cook on all sides until golden brown, rotating often to ensure the meat doesn’t burn. Add more oil as needed to prevent the pan from becoming dry. Cook the loins until you reach a rare to medium-rare internal temperature. Let the steaks rest for around 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, season with kosher salt, and serve with the blueberry sauce and wild rice fritters.