Gorgeous Short Ribs and the Joys of Slow-Cooked Venison

Short ribs are superb. They’re meaty and flavorful. Beef ribs are better than pork and have more meat on the bone. When prepared correctly, usually with a good slow braise for a few hours, they have just enough fat and connective tissue that melts away into that “Mmmmm, OMG these are sooo good” reaction on that first bite.

Short Ribs

Short ribs can be cut separately and with bone-in or left whole, as shown. Obviously these folks aren’t eating with their fingers and sipping a col’ beer, yet, but prepare these as you will. They’re delicious.

Short ribs can be grilled or braised (or grilled and braised), added to a traditional French pot-au-feu, or whipped up like spare ribs: slather with rub or sauce, wrap in tinfoil, toss on a pan into the oven. That’s an easy way to do it and will get the job done, but you may want to experiment a little more with short ribs.

Part of the deal with these short rib recipes I’ve seen is the slow cooking method, like for this one for Guinness Braised Short Rib Sliders or for Honeyed Stout-Braised Short Ribs with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes. Both sound great. The addition of a robust stout also adds depth.

And this recipe from Bon Appetit for Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs just makes me want to lick my computer screen. Don’t those look great? You can make them in a Dutch oven and in just a few hours it’ll be time for napkins, good conversation and great food.

Slow-cooked meats are easy to do once you get the hang of it. Whether it’s for smoked venison roasts or sausages, neck roasts or shoulders, the main thing is to go low and slow … low temperature for a long time. This breaks down all the collagen, connective tissues, helps the muscle fibers that normally would be tough to loosen and soak up all the liquid, and the result is a fantastic, versatile dish to be used in different ways. For example, breakfast tacos at deer camp.

One of our favorite slow-cooked recipes comes courtesy of the good folks at Weston Supply. This one includes a great blueberry sauce and the addition of chopped green onions — don’t add too many — gives it a little bite to go with the sweetness of the sauce. For more super recipes check out the Weston Supply blog for photos and info.

Mmmm ... slow-cooked venison! (Photo: blog.westonproducts.com)

Mmmm … slow-cooked venison! (Photo: blog.westonproducts.com)

Smoked Pulled Venison with Blueberry BBQ Sauce

3 lbs venison (**)
6 oz Fat Head’s Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale (***)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder

Weston Smoker
wood chips (peach, apple, or cherry are ideal)

Soak your wood chips (for at least a half hour), fill the smoker’s water bowl with hot water, and preheat your smoker to 200°F.

Rub the entire outside of the venison with a mixture of cinnamon and chili powder. Place it in an aluminum pan and pour the Bumble Berry into the bottom of the pan. Smoke 8-12 hours, until the venison falls apart and has a full, smoky flavor.

If you’re making your BBQ sauce at the same time as the venison (we did), simply place a pan of the sauce in the smoker 4 hours before the venison should be done. Two birds, one stone.

Once the venison is fork tender, pull it apart with two forks, until completely shredded. Pour the Blueberry BBQ Sauce over top, then sprinkle with blueberries and onions. Serve immediately, hot. Garnish with a dozen or so fresh blueberries and two chopped sprigs of green onion. Serves 6-8.

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce
2 cups blueberries
6 oz Fat Head’s Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale
¼ cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean – scrape seeds from pod, discard pod
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves

Use the Weston Roma Tomato Strainer with the Berry Screen attached to puree your fresh blueberries — no need to worry about leaves or stems, the strainer will push those through the waste chute. Run the blueberries through 3-4 times to get all of the juice out.Combine the blueberry puree with the remaining ingredients.

Smoke the blueberry BBQ sauce at 200°F for two hours, stirring every hour. If, after two hours, the sauce isn’t smoky enough for you, simply smoke longer. Also be sure to change out your wood chips every hour, or the sauce will taste ashy. Let cool, then pour into a jar with a canning funnel and store in the fridge, or use it right away. You could also can it for later use.

(** — You can use a lesser cut of venison for this recipe since you’re smoking low and slow. Shoulders and neck roasts are great for pulled venison dishes.)
(*** — If you can’t find Fat Head’s Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale, substitute a different blueberry flavored ale. Check with your local purveyor who carries craft beers.)



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Learn the Fundamentals of Cooking Wild Game
If you love cooking wild game – or want to learn – this collection will make your mouth water! We’ve put together seven best-selling cookbooks and guides to turn you into a venison virtuoso.

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