A Bony Conundrum
If you’re anything like me, you have at one time or another debated what to do with deer ribs. You can always trim the meat from betwixt the bones and add it to your burger pile. But what if there was something tastier you could do? I’ll let you in on a little secret; my recipe for twice cooked venison ribs.
Deer ribs can often be insignificant, elk are much meatier. Either of the two are going to be pretty full of fat. Many of us (myself included) don’t particularly care for the flavor of deer tallow. This recipe is the best way I’ve found to overcome that overwhelming fat issue, and enjoy ribs the way they are meant to. I have used this process on both deer and elk ribs, with excellent results.
If you are looking for a way to enjoy the ribs off of your game, follow along to eat like a king.
As soon as you’ve got your animal cleaned and out of the field, it’s time to think about ribs. Don’t waste time to rinse and get any excessive blood or other contaminants from the ribs. I always age my meat, but ribs can easily dessicate rapidly. For that reason I often remove them first.
If you haven’t destroyed one or both of the racks of ribs with you super-magnum, cut them out before they dry too much. I use a sawzall, and cut the ribs basically along the edge of the backstrap to the shoulder. If the brisket is insignificant enough to not use as a stand alone cut, leave on the ribs to eat it there.
Split the rib cage along the front to give you two clean rib racks. Then I freeze them at least a little bit to make them stiff enough to cut again. Take special care during the process to not ruin the layers of meat and fat. Try to keep everything intact as possible. I like to cut them into narrower long strips. This allows easier handling, and simplifies our next step.
- Vinegar or Lemon juice (or both)
- Bay leaves
- Garlic cloves (2-20 as you see fit)
With your ribs clean and trimmed, it’s time for the first round of heat. I like to use a pressure cooker, because I’m impatient. I season up the ribs with my favorite seasonings, and then stuff them into the pressure cooker.
I then fill the cooker with as much water as it will safely hold to cover the ribs as much as possible. Seal up the pressure cooker and let it run for forty minutes to an hour. As this happens, the layers of fat within the ribs melt and float to the top of the water.
Once the time has been reached, I remove the heat and allow it to cool. Once you open the pressure cooker, you will notice the ribs have shrunk significantly. And if you’ve done it right, they will be fall-apart soft. You’ll have to carefully remove them from the pot to avoid breakage.
Now it’s time for round two. You could eat them just as they are, and it would probably be fine. But round two is where it gets really good. I re-season the ribs with more lemon juice, and some course salt (or flake). If you are going to add BBQ sauce, you could do that as well.
Once again you’ll need to carefully pass the ribs onto your grill or smoker. High heat is perfect for rapidly searing the exterior of your tender ribs. I like to scorch them so the remaining fat melts even further and crisps-up into tasty bits. As the fat melts, it permeates through all the meat adding flavor and moisture.
I rarely keep them on the grill (or broiler if your an apartment dweller) for more than a few minutes. Just enough to crisp them up. Once they are done, you can serve your twice cooked venison ribs however you wish. I like to pull all the bones out, and you can simply mash them with a fork and eat everything.
There is something magical about this process that makes even the undesirable deer fat taste good. There is no game flavor left, only the delicious greasy feeling of ribs melting in your mouth.
These must be served hot off the grill, and eaten quickly. Deer and elk tallow can setup like candle wax in a very short time, so enjoy them quickly. And I’d recommend a tea afterwards versus a cold soda.
I have never had a bad batch of twice cooked venison ribs cooking them this way. Alter the process to fit your needs, and enjoy every bone in cut you can!