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Meat Week: How to Cook Whitetail Deer Ribs

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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

Ingredients:

-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

Comments (12)

Top Rated
All Comments
from VAHunter540 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Oh sweet hallelujah, Christmas has come early.

Thank you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Slice the meat off the bones. Throw the bones away. Now mix meat with about 20 % pork fat. Run contents through a grinder, and make a great Big Mac burger. Add cheese, pickles, whatever you'd like on your deer burger Big Mac. If I had a pickup window cars would be lined up outside.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I thought the ribs were really greasy. Is getting the fat off what gets rid of the grease?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I've always heard deer ribs were really greasy too. I actually don't know anyone who keeps them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Slow cook them in 12 gallons of cream of mushroom soup and add a cup of Franks Redhot and 2 budweisers about an hour before the crock pot is done and bada bing thats a spicy meatball.
Something tells me that Deer ribs would best be braised for a long time. Beef broth and red wine would be a good base.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm tellin ya...burgers are best. You add much taste with the pork fat, and quick fryin is the key...no long time in the oven stewing the meat...yuck! Gave my cat some one time, and my cat ran away from home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I've never been clear how exactly you "trim all the fat" from deer ribs. seems like the only way to do it is to also remove all the meat, at which point you no longer have a rack of ribs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Shea wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Ribs are greasy and that is due to the fat. I trim as much of it away as possible -- all the white -- and anything I can't get usually cooks off at low and slow temperatures. Still, if there are any gelatinous fats on the meat, I scape it off before the final oven blast at 400 degrees. I like the idea of braising them in red wine, too. Gonna have to try something like that next year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from riverdemon10 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Out of curiosity, what part of Connecticut? I'm from there and live in some prime deer country. Wondering if it was near me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm not much of a rib guy but this sounds so good. I just might have to shoot something...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Matzek wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

They're ribs... How do you trim ALL the fat off of ribs?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Retired2hunt wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Low and Slow = oven at 200 degrees and bake foil wrapped ribs for 6 hours. Include a small pan of water in oven to keep meat moist. Then unwrap ribs and place on a BBQ set on medium high heat. Cook each side for 5 min then brush on your favorite BBQ sauce mixed with melted butter and cook each side for another 5 min. Enjoy REAL great ribs!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Chewylouie wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I thought the ribs were really greasy. Is getting the fat off what gets rid of the grease?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from VAHunter540 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Oh sweet hallelujah, Christmas has come early.

Thank you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Slice the meat off the bones. Throw the bones away. Now mix meat with about 20 % pork fat. Run contents through a grinder, and make a great Big Mac burger. Add cheese, pickles, whatever you'd like on your deer burger Big Mac. If I had a pickup window cars would be lined up outside.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I've always heard deer ribs were really greasy too. I actually don't know anyone who keeps them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Slow cook them in 12 gallons of cream of mushroom soup and add a cup of Franks Redhot and 2 budweisers about an hour before the crock pot is done and bada bing thats a spicy meatball.
Something tells me that Deer ribs would best be braised for a long time. Beef broth and red wine would be a good base.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm tellin ya...burgers are best. You add much taste with the pork fat, and quick fryin is the key...no long time in the oven stewing the meat...yuck! Gave my cat some one time, and my cat ran away from home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I've never been clear how exactly you "trim all the fat" from deer ribs. seems like the only way to do it is to also remove all the meat, at which point you no longer have a rack of ribs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Shea wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Ribs are greasy and that is due to the fat. I trim as much of it away as possible -- all the white -- and anything I can't get usually cooks off at low and slow temperatures. Still, if there are any gelatinous fats on the meat, I scape it off before the final oven blast at 400 degrees. I like the idea of braising them in red wine, too. Gonna have to try something like that next year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from riverdemon10 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Out of curiosity, what part of Connecticut? I'm from there and live in some prime deer country. Wondering if it was near me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm not much of a rib guy but this sounds so good. I just might have to shoot something...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Matzek wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

They're ribs... How do you trim ALL the fat off of ribs?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Retired2hunt wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Low and Slow = oven at 200 degrees and bake foil wrapped ribs for 6 hours. Include a small pan of water in oven to keep meat moist. Then unwrap ribs and place on a BBQ set on medium high heat. Cook each side for 5 min then brush on your favorite BBQ sauce mixed with melted butter and cook each side for another 5 min. Enjoy REAL great ribs!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment