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Article for November - December 2007

Tender Loin Versus Tenderloin
by Dennis Chastain

An old Chinese proverb advises, “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name.” Learning the lingo associated with deer processing is the first step toward mastering the task at hand.

If you don’t learn anything else about deer anatomy, learn the distinction between the loin and the tenderloin. The loin, also widely known as the “backstrap” or “tenderloin” is the wonderfully tender and flavorful longitudinal muscle located along both sides of the outside of the spinal column. “If the whole deer was like the backstrap,” says Charles Ruth, “we wouldn’t have many deer in South Carolina.” Cut the loin into small steaks, butterfly them or not, soak in your favorite marinade or leave them plain, or just put the whole thing on the grill. Almost regardless of how you cook it, the loin is most deer hunters’ choice cut.

The real tenderloins, however, are even more tender and delicious than the loins but are often overlooked when hunters process their own deer. There are two tenderloins on every deer. They are smaller than the loin and are located on the inside of the rib cage just under the spinal column. The tenderloins are easily cut from the carcass by filleting them to separate the muscle tissue from the backbone before cutting them free on both ends. Slice them into medallions and sauté in butter and olive oil, or roast them whole wrapped in bacon on the grill. They are the crème de la crème of venison cuts.

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© 2007 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, November-December 2007 - 

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