_Photo via_ Lekker Diepvries
O.K., admittedly the word hate in that title is click bait. I don’t actually hate a venison tenderloin—that thin, fall-apart-tender cut suspended from the back of the spine. But I don’t love it either.
It’s not that the tenderloin tastes bad. It’s that it doesn’t taste at all. That lack of flavor is the reason I never order a filet at a steakhouse. (I’d order chicken before I’d order filet mignon.) Even the name is marketing hype: Make something sound fancy, and people will buy it.
The tenderloin’s biggest attribute is that it is tender—that I won’t deny. But it’s so tender that it tears when you try to pull it from the bone. It also falls apart in your mouth. The reason it’s tender is because, as far I know, it doesn’t really do any work while the deer is living. Sure there’s probably some physiological reason for it, but danged if I can figure it out. Muscles that don’t work, don’t build flavor. I figure we developed (or were granted, depending on your worldview) canine teeth and strong molars for a reason, and that reason is to enjoy those tougher, more flavorful pieces of meat.
When I look at a pile of venison from a deer, elk, or antelope, the tenderloin is far down the list of preferred cuts. So far down, in fact, that I’d gladly trade a pair of tenderloins for one shank. Anyone up for a swap?