Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boredom Begets Innovation

It's the middle of Whitetail season in PA. I didn't go out this year, but my father did, just as he does every year. This year he ended up with a buck and two doe, kind of like he does every year.

And just like every year, we kick around an idea, kind of smile and laugh when it's brought up, then go about the butchering as we have done time immortal. What's the question?

I wonder what deer ribs would taste like?

Slow roasted venison ribs lathered in BBQ sauce, juice dribbling down your chin, fingers scalded...... ribs the way a real hunter should eat them.

These year, when that question came up, I said "To hell with it, let's do it." My father looked at me, the idea slowly getting it's appeal in his mind. Finally he laughs, and agrees.

Well, cutting ribs from a deer are slightly more difficult than grabbing a prepacked slab of baby backs from the grocer. Actually, it's damn near impossible unless you have a jigsaw with a coarse-toothed bit.

Fast forward to today. Today is the day. Now I don't mean to brag, but I can make some mean ribs. I learned from a guy from Texas, and if there's anything Texans love more than football and guns, it's BBQ. So i know how to make me some ribs.

I followed the instructions as always and when it was time to pull them out of the oven and plate up, the first thing we noticed was that they shrunk. A lot. They were now about half the size of when they went in.

And it was around then that we noticed that we never cut the ribs from the spinal column, or the sternum. So instead of finger grubbing goodness, we got to rebutcher a deer that was already cooked, cutting the meat off of the sides and from between the ribs.

Finally we sit down and take the first bite.

How does it taste?

Well...... it tastes fine, but dang is it tough. Now this is where my father and I disagree. He thinks that there is not enough fat in and around the ribs, I say that it wasn't a matter of the meat being tough, but that there is a membrane around the ribs and that when this cooked it thickened up. I did get a few pieces where I could peel back the outside of the meat and the inner bit was soft and tender, as good ribs should.

No matter the cause, they pretty much sucked. No scalded fingers, No greasy-chin goodness. Just jaw chomping with heavenly tenderness that was few and far between.

So if you or anyone you know ever dreams of BBQ sauce lathered slabs of venision, pinch yourself, wake up, and turn that meat into burger or something else that will lead you down some tangy rabbit hole only to never deliver.


  1. I don't know if you go antelope hunting, but antelope ribs are to die for in my humble opinion. I don't think I've ever had deer ribs.

  2. at the expensive of sounding like redneck, we use to eat them all the time! My family was close friends with a local butcher who use to put deer ribs off to the side for us. I recall the trick was to slow cook them in a roaster smothered in sauce. They were also cut like you would buy at the grocery store and they did shrink, a lot. You would need several deer to make worth your while.


  3. Thanks Clif!

    Howard, we don't have any antelope in this neck of the woods, but if I ever get a chance I'll keep that in mind.

    flyfishermanj, I was thinking a butcher would probably know how to cut them better than us and slow roasting in sauce sounds good, I dry roasted them like I do my pork ribs. We do have the other ribcage in the freezer. hmmmm......