December 10, 2012
Meat Week: How to Cook Whitetail Deer Ribs
By Michael R. Shea
What is “Meat Week,” you ask? It’s our first (of many, we hope) celebration of wild meat. But not just any cut. No, we’re talking big, majestic meals—the kind that inspire chest thumping. Every day this week, we’ll be posting special recipes, tips, and stories that are big, meaty, and, best of all, delicious. Enjoy. —The Editors
The signal was a text message.* An “OK” from my uncle and I’d start pushing a stand of northeast hardwoods toward him. Fifteen minutes went by. “All set?” I texted. Then 20. “Ready?” Twenty-five, and still no response. I wagered his phone battery died. When I called him in a whisper, he was exasperated, having been standing around for 25 minutes, too: “You haven’t left yet?” he said. “I sent ‘OK’!”
“I didn’t get it!” I said. “I’ve been texting you for 10 minutes!”
“Alright, forget it. There’s another hunter in here anyway.”
Back at the trail we messed with our phones. Who really sent what when seemed important—then we heard the crashing. Seventy yards into the woods was a big doe and a bigger buck. I swung the shotgun up. My uncle bleated. The buck stopped, and I dropped him in his tracks.
Damn near 200 pounds, it was the biggest deer I’d ever shot. In life and hunting, I’d rather be lucky than good.
The timing was lucky, too. My wife made weekend dinner plans with a grad school friend and her husband. He’d never had venison, and his wife had raved about other game feeds at our place. Both our guests really wanted to taste the deer, to gauge its difference from farm-fed food. So two days dead and never frozen, we cooked up the ribs as simply as we knew.
This Flintstone-sized dish was a hit. We had Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce on the table, but no one reached for it. I think I’ll call the dish Mike’s Lucky Ribs.
*The author and his uncle were hunting in Connecticut, where it is legal for hunters to communicate about deer movement via cell phone. —The Editors
Mike’s Lucky Ribs
-One full rack of deer ribs, trimmed of all fat
-6 to 8 Tbsp. butter at room temperature
-Juice from one large orange (or two limes)
-2 Tbsp. dried oregano
-Cloves from one head of garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub the softened butter all over the ribs. Next, mix the citrus juice with the oregano, garlic, and generous amounts of salt and pepper and rub this mixture over the ribs.
Wrap the ribs tinfoil to prevent the ribs from drying out. Place the ribs in the oven and cook for about four hours, checking every 30 minutes for dryness. Cook low and slow, about four hours at 300 degrees, checking every 30 minutes for dryness. When the meat is fork tender, uncover the ribs, and crank up the heat to 400 degrees. Let the ribs brown for 5 or 10 minutes. It’s easy to ruin the whole thing here, so stay nearby. Serve on a platter with barbecue sauce on the side.
Here are the other posts from Meat Week, in case you missed any:
- Rules for Grinding Wild Game (And Mom's Meatloaf Recipe)
- How to Cure Venison Prosciutto
- How to Smoke a Black Bear Ham
- Meat Week Holiday Party Food Fight