Part of Alaska’s semi-unique meat salvage requirement is that of taking all the meat from the ribcage. Now, while I have prided pride myself in making use of some of the less popular cuts of venison over the past decade or so, the rib cage itself had still generally stayed in the woods. And if I did trim it up, it would inevitably wind up ground in with other trimmings to make burger or sausage.
With several racks of Sitka black-tailed deer venison ribs to consume from our recently successful trip to Kodiak Island, I decided to try a brine recipe on some ribs before grilling them.
Breaking the ribs down was one of the hardest parts. I considered grabbing my meat saw but did not really want to mangle each cut more than necessary. What I found was that by striking each rib in the center with the corner of my cleaver, I could easily break the bones and then split each rack in half length-wise. I found that this was ultimately important to do. Having the whole rib in the classic uncompromised “C” shape would have proven very difficult to evenly grill properly in the last step of the recipe.
Once the ribs were broken down, I made a brine with some bay leaves, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, a little 5-spice, black and pink peppercorns, dried parsley, dried basil, and a couple other herbs. The base had around 3/4 cup of salt dissolved into the 3 quarts solution.
I immersed the ribs for 24 hours, stirring every 4-6 hours, before pulling them out to parboil for 45 minutes. Once they were sufficiently tenderized, I coated them with a dry rub comprised of kosher salt, cracked black pepper, paprika, cumin, chipotle pepper powder, and garlic powder. With the meat rested back to room temperature, I then moved the rubbed ribs on to a hot bed of charcoal and basted them with a honey, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, dijon mustard sauce that I whipped up. When they had the right amount of char to them, it was time to dig in!
I’d say the look on Raelyn’s face tells you all you need to know about whether or not the ribs were a hit or not.