[Lindsey Bartosh]

Some of the best aromas in life come straight from the stovetop skillet. A few of my favorite ones include bubbling, melty butter that is slightly browning, onions sweating in butter, homemade tomato sauce after the basil hits the pan, and this marinade for elk backstraps.

Normally when I do recipes with alcohol in them, such as wines, beers, or whiskey, I include a substitution. Generally, that switch includes either some type of broth or stock and sometimes a vinegar; however, this is the one recipe I don’t offer that substitution idea for. It doesn’t turn out the same if you swap out the whiskey for beef stock or red wine vinegar. 

When selecting a whiskey to use for the marinade, pick something you would like to sip on. The same is true when selecting wines to cook with. Most people think they just want to find the cheapest option possible because they are using it in a recipe. That might be a helpful thought for the pocketbook, but it will not create the best marinade possible. For this recipe, the backstrap is the star of the show and the marinade is the only thing complimenting the flavors, smells, and textures. So, you want to pick out a good quality whiskey to use. 

This dish is slightly sweet and has a hint of caramelized vanilla from the whiskey, a bit of saltiness from the soy sauce, and a rustic and savory twist from the Dijon mustard. It is one of the simplest dishes to make, but the simplicity does not come out when you serve it: It’s a very elegant dinner to serve, perfect for a dinner party with a side of asparagus or scalloped potatoes. Your nose will thank you when the steak hits the grill—this dish smells amazing!

Whisky Elk Backstrap


  • 4 elk backstrap steaks, about eight ounces each (This recipe also works well with deer, pronghorn, or your other wild game harvest) 
  • ½ cup favorite sipping whiskey
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Lay out steaks in a large, shallow dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, make the marinade: Whisk together whiskey, soy sauce, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and pepper. 
  3. Pour marinade over steaks and cover with plastic wrap. Allow at least four hours in the refrigerator, flipping the steaks halfway through.
  4. Remove steaks from marinade and rest at room temperature for at least fifteen minutes. Letting the steak come to room temperature creates a more even cooking surface area when the steak hits the hot pan. 
  5. Heat grilling pan over high heat.
  6. Add steaks to pan and cook 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium rare. 
  7. Let meat rest for five minutes before slicing.
  8. Enjoy! 

Lindsey Bartosh, an eighth-generation Moab girl, loves hiking, hunting, fishing, cooking, writing, photography and working on her website www.huntingandcooking.com.