If you’re a hunter, and you throw away the ribs, all I have to say is you’re missing out, and you might consider taking them sometime, because they’re a helluva meal.
As a chef, I never had time to hunt. Now, freelancing, consulting, and doing my own thing, I do have more time, and although I still haven’t shot any deer, I have plenty of friends who do. When I went over to help butcher this year, I was shocked when noone thought twice about discarding the ribs and other cuts I like. Opening up my trunk to get a handsaw bought me some strange looks, and I was ignorant of the fact that most venison meat is simply stripped off the carcass.
Everyone was fine with me taking ribs, but noone else wanted them. There seems to be a fear of venison fat, and with some deer, especially those eating things like wild sage, I could understand that, since venison fat is rich. But, if those deer are from someplace like Iowa, where deer munch on plenty of corn, the fat on them is probably pretty mild, and will only need minimal trimming, depending on the cut, breast being the exception here from my experience as it’s generally more fatty.
Anyway, I really like smoky, spicy, salty things, like any red blooded human, so I did a batch of simple ribs with a wild plum sauce made from my jam I describe here. There’s a lot of different ways you could do something like this, and you wouldn’t have to use wild plum jam, per se, so maybe it can give you some inspiration. The technique of glazing the ribs in a pan could be a post in itself, so put it in your hat for a rainy day.
Smoked Venison Ribs with Spicy Wild Plum Glaze
- Venison ribs, as needed
- Sriracha, or another hot pepper sauce, to taste
- Knob or two of unsalted butter
- Wild plum jam, to taste
- Apple cider vinegar, to taste
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Sliced green onions and fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)
The night before you smoke the ribs, season them aggressively with salt and pepper, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat an oven to 250, then put the ribs in a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water, cover, and bake for 1.5 hours, this is so make sure the ribs don’t dry out while smoking. Remove the ribs, then smoke at 250 for another 1.5 hours or until tender, then remove and cool. The meat should release from the bone, but shouldn’t fall apart.
From here the ribs can be made ahead of time, frozen, or chilled until needed. Chilling the ribs after cooking is key for portioning, as fresh out of the smoker, they might be too soft and could fall apart. Cut the ribs into single bone riblets.
Meanwhile, whisk together equal parts wild plum jam and apple cider vinegar, then mix in some of the hot sauce to taste. Warm up the plum mixture in a large saute pan big enough to accomodate the ribs. Meanwhile, heat the ribs up in a preheated oven until hot throughout. When the sauce is hot, stir in the butter, whisking to emulsify the sauce, then add the ribs, turning over to coat in the sauce. Remove the ribs to a plate, garnish with the green onions and cilantro if using, and serve.