March 1, 2011

Braised Elk Ribs

I was given some antelope ribs from Broken Arrow Ranch for Christmas. My idea was to braise them as short ribs, employing a braising liquid to complement what I assumed to be a wild flavor. Fortunately, one of my hunting companions on a recent elk hunt liberated some elk ribs from the home freezer of one of our companions. I decided rather than risking the antelope on an untried liquid, experimenting on the elk ribs would be a good idea. So after some trial and error, here is the result. The elk ribs were terrific and I can’t wait to do the antelope with this same recipe.

Braised Elk Ribs

There was no theft involved in the liberation of the elk ribs. My companion assured me we had permission to “take some meat from Ned’s freezer.” Ned had stayed in the high-mountain elk camp. We stopped on our return to do a sleepover at his home where we also enjoyed a wonderful dinner. It seemed only fitting that we test his wine cellar during our stay. He would have expected no less.


5 lbs elk ribs or one slab
Salt & pepper

8 ounces red currant jelly (small jar)
2 tbls Dijon mustard
1 cup tawny port
2 cups stock (chicken turkey or beef)
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp juniper berries (10 to 12) scorched and coarsely crushed
1 tsp ground cardoman or 4-5 pods husks remover and finely crushed
1 tbls brown sugar
1 cup red wine
1 tbls red wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt (coarse) and fresh ground pepper to taste

Aromatic vegetables such as onion, turnip, celery and carrot may be added in an amount to loosely cover the meat

Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Rub with salt and pepper. Brown the ribs under broiler or in an iron skillet.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk all braising liquid ingredients, being careful to liquify the currant jelly. Over medium heat, cook the liquid until it's reduced by a third.

Place ribs in a slow cooker such as a Le Creuset, covered cast iron Dutch oven or even your trusted crock pot. Pour the reduced liquid over ribs about three-fourths of the way up.

Simmer at 230 degrees at least 4 hours. The longer the simmer, the more tender the ribs. Eight hours brings them to falling-off-the bone which is the desired level of doneness.

This recipe should work well with any game ribs as well as beef short ribs. A dark port would work as well as the tawny port and result in a deeper-colored liquid. It should be added that elk ribs are fairly large. I cut mine in half with my Buck hatchet. A meat cleaver or saw should also work or just do them in their natural length. The antelope ribs came cut to a good length.

  • I like Buck. Their hatchet has become a permanent tool in my kitchen.
  • Le Creuset pots and pans are my go-to cooking vessels.
  • Broken Arrow Ranch is a great source of game meat and its owner is a friend.
Beyond that I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with any of these folks.

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