I have been a deer hunter all my life. I have eaten pork ribs all my life. As a child, I would watch my Dad skin and quarter a deer, watch him drag the remaining carcass off into the woods for the buzzards. With the ribs always still attached. When I grew up and started processing my own deer, I followed suit. For years, I always discarded the racks of ribs from deer. “They can’t be cooked in any fashion to make them good”, I heard. “Not enough meat on them”. Heard that one too. So, as a rebellious 41 year old, I decided to go against all odds and save the racks of ribs from my buck from this fall. I learned that all the naysayers are WRONG. I learned that deer ribs CAN be cooked to perfection. I learned that I’d put my deer ribs up against a lot of people’s pork ribs and probably give them a good run for their money. Here’s how to do it:
What you’ll need:
Clean rack of deer ribs (butchering instructions below)
Solidified bacon grease
Old WoodFire Grill’s KK’s 10 BBQ Rub
Your favorite BBQ sauce
Hickory, pecan or apple wood or chunks
The key to having the best quality deer ribs, in my opinion, is to cut them the right way when butchering the deer. The most important part is not to remove the “flap” of meat that resides between the skin and the actual rib bones. This “flap” of meat will make your rack thicker and, well, for lack of a better term, more meaty. Without it, the rack can be fairly thin on meat, and maybe not as easy to cook to perfection. Here is a rack that I trimmed. It’s not my prettiest job, but it was raining when I butchered the deer, so cut me a little slack.Coat the rack heavily with the solidified bacon grease on both sides, to give the rack some moisture and flavor. Then apply a liberal coat of the KK’s 10 BBQ rub or your favorite rub. Be sure to get the rub and the bacon grease under the “flap”.
Lay a few strips of bacon across the rack of ribs for a little more added flavor and moisture, and you are ready for the smoker. I cooked these ribs on my cheap barrel smoker, using the indirect method, with hickory chunks for about 1 1/2 hours at 275 degrees. So if you cook a little cooler, go with about 2 hours, a little hotter go about an hour. The idea is to give them enough time to get a nice smoky flavor.
Next, place the ribs on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil or if doing multiple racks, in an aluminum pan. Spray or pour a coating of apple juice over the ribs, then seal them up tight with aluminum foil. Put them back on the smoker, or in the oven, for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 250-300 degrees.
When the ribs are fall off the bone tender, remove from the aluminum foil and remove the bacon strips (save them for tomorrow’s breakfast!). Coat the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and put them back on the smoker for about 20 to 30 minutes to cook in the BBQ sauce.