Family traditions come in many forms. Some traditions are large and noisy, like everyone in the family gathers at a certain aunt’s house every year for Thanksgiving. And the table is always filled with ten different varieties of pie, and everyone eats until they can’t breathe. And then uncle so-and-so turns on the football game, but no one watches it because they are too full to stay awake. So the entire family sleeps through Thanksgiving Day football while grandma washes the dishes in her very special, no one can help, way. And then everyone awakes from their post-turkey slumber to eat the rest of the ten pies.
Then there are the small, more simple family traditions. One of my family traditions was tenderloin steak and eggs the morning after a successful deer or elk hunt. My dad would remove the hide, quarter up his animal to hang, and then put the tenderloin and backstrap in the fridge. In the morning, he would fry thinly butterflied steaks of tenderloin with medium eggs. I always loved that tradition, and shared it with my extended family once I married.
Now, at our house, we keep around about ten bags of those thinly sliced butterflied tenderloin steaks for a quick Saturday morning breakfast, or a quick Monday night dinner. I always think of it as my go-to meal when I don’t feel like cooking, but every time I eat it I wonder why I would consider it a go-to when, even in its simplicity, it is one amazing meal.
There really isn’t much to say about this meal other than it is delicious, simple, and always a crowd pleaser. I often prepare deer or elk in a way that enhances the flavors of the meat, but while enhancing those same tactics can somewhat simultaneously camouflage the flavors of the meat. When I make meals covered in sauce or cheese or some other delicious topping or wrap bacon around the entire thing, I pick cuts of meat that sometimes can’t handle being served solo. They might be a little too tough and need some tenderizing or breaking down. They might really have that “gamey” flavor going on for one reason or another. But tenderloin is tender and exquisite enough to stand on its own, and I truly appreciate a beautifully cooked slice of elk or deer tenderloin. It is ripe with the natural juices of the meat, melt in your mouth tender, and very lean. It is a true treat, and one you should feel incredibly lucky if someone will share with you.
For this simple, four ingredient breakfast, you simply need a couple of thinly sliced, butterflied tenderloin steaks. I should add that backstrap is great this way too, so don’t go throwing that away! Anyway, you will also need a couple of eggs for frying up, some steak seasoning, I personally LOVE Montreal Steak Seasoning and put a dash of it on everything, and some butter.
To thinly butterfly the tenderloin, I use a very sharp filet knife and cut slices about a half to three quarter inches thick. I then butterfly those pieces, meaning I cut the thin slices in half almost all the way through. Leave a small section of the meat slice still attached and “butterfly” the steak open. I freeze three or four steaks in a vacuum sealed bag, which is a perfect meal size for two people. Having a couple of bags of the thin sliced steaks is great for several reasons, with two of them being they stack and store great in the freezer, and they also thaw extremely quick. You can pull a bag out and throw it under running water in the sink and have dinner meat ready to use in about five minutes.
Liberally season the tenderloin steaks. There is no need to add salt when using steak seasoning, because the seasoning is a blend of coarse salt, black and red pepper, garlic, coriander, and dill seeds. Preheat a non-stick pan to medium-high heat, and once the pan is hot, drop the steaks in. As with cooking most steaks, you should let the meat come to room temperature before starting, this will ensure even cooking of the steak, and also remember to not disturb the meat once you set it in the pan.
The steaks cook extremely quick! I am talking, like 45 second here if you like a medium-rare cooked steak. Many people say to not overcook your wild game steaks, and I am a big promoter of that as well. I remember ordering buffalo in a restaurant, and at that point in time I was definitely a beef girl and not super adventurous on the culinary front. The waiter suggested I order my meat medium rare, at the most! I was incredibly weirded out, and slightly uncomfortable. I always ordered my meat well-done. The waiter explained that with meats like buffalo, venison, or elk being so lean that they were especially dried out when cooked above medium-rare, and therefore lost most of their flavor and juiciness. I reluctantly followed his suggestion, and haven’t gone back since. So, my suggestion on this steak to you is a cooking time of 45 seconds per side.
Once the steaks are cooked, let them rest for a few minutes while the eggs fry. Drop a pat of butter in the pan, this will help keep the eggs from sticking, and drop the eggs in the pan. I use the same pan I cooked my steaks in for the eggs, because I like the flavor the steak juices add, but you can get a new clean pan too. Sprinkle a dash of the Montreal steak seasoning on the eggs (see, I told you I put it on everything!), and allow the eggs to cook. Everyone likes their eggs cooked differently, it is probably the number one question you get at a diner, “How would you like your eggs done?” So, for sunny-side up eggs, cook the egg for a minute, reduce the heat, then cover with a lid and cook an additional four minutes. The steam will finish the egg tops. Four minutes will result in a runny yolk, five minutes will give a medium finished yolk, and six minutes yields a hard yolk. For over easy eggs, start the same as the sunny side, but after the minute of cooking you flip the egg instead of covering with the lid. Cook for a minute more, resulting in a very runny yolk, and then, as before, the longer you cook the egg the more solid the yolk will become. I like a runny yolk for dipping steak slices in, but that is just how I “like my eggs done.”
And…well, that is it. Steak and eggs breakfast in just four ingredients. Enjoy