BBQ Cervid Ribs

by Ian Burrow


Randy Newberg  reaching in to grab the first bite. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) patiently awaits his turn to try the ribs.

Randy Newberg reaching in to grab the first bite. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) patiently awaits his turn to try the ribs.

Innovation is something I’ve found to be synonymous with outdoor types. We’re so driven by our passion that we don’t let our bank accounts slow us down. Whether we’re using grandpa’s rusty fishing lure, or we’ve put a bow together piecemeal from left over archery equipment, or we’ve reattached a piece of the truck dashboard with duct tape, we make it happen so we can pursue our passion.

In this case, I found a way to serve delicious BBQ ribs (a task typically completed over the course of a weekend with the help of a high dollar smoker) in an hour, with nothing more than a camp stove and cast-iron skillet courtesy of Camp Chef. When I served a slab of BBQ buck mule deer ribs at the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers 2019 North American Rendezvous Wild Game Cookoff and every bone was picked clean, I realized that I may have stumbled onto a recipe and cooking method worth sharing.  

Although I did pull it off in an hour, I would recommend you give yourself about 1.5 hours of cook time if possible. This is a great way to enjoy BBQ ribs at your next hunting camp, tailgate, or on a week night when you don’t have time to monitor a smoker and the kids are trying to burn the house down. This is also an ideal cooking method if you’re like me and you don’t own an actual smoker, yet you still love that all-American ass kicking flavor of freedom that smoked ribs brings to your mouth.

Components

SLAB OF RIBS (PICK YOUR FAVORITE BIG GAME CRITTER)

THE PUBLIC PURSUIT BRINE

A JAR OF YOUR FAVORITE BBQ RUB

A JAR OF YOUR FAVORITE BBQ SAUCE

Special Equipment

TIN FOIL

HAND FULL OF WOOD CHIPS OR WOOD PELLETS (FLAVOR OF CHOICE)

LIQUID SMOKE

BRUSH

GRILL TONGS

A POSITIVE ATTITUDE


By the Numbers

1.     Butcher the rib cage into manageable slabs of ribs (i.e, make sure these slabs will fit on your grill).

2.     Brine the slab for 2 hours.

3.     Create a “Smoke Bomb” by placing a handful of damp wood chips on a piece of tin foil, add a few drops of liquid smoke, wrap the tinfoil up into a ball and poke a few holes into it.

4.     Place your smoke bomb directly over one of the burners on your grill beneath the grate.

5.     Fire up the burner the smoke bomb is resting on to “High,” close the lid, and let the heat climb so your smoke bomb can begin generating smoke. If you have an open-faced grill, try and find something you can cover the grate with (think of a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven). Turn the other burner(s) to “Low.”

6.     Rub your ribs down on both sides thoroughly. Try and do this while the smoke bomb is heating up. You don’t want your ribs to sit too long with the rub on, otherwise the flavor of the rub may overpower the flavor of your meat and sauce.  

7.     Throw your ribs onto the side of the grill that has the burner(s) set on “Low,” and close the grill lid. If you’re working with an open-faced grill, try and get that skillet or Dutch oven to overlap your ribs while simultaneously “capturing” some of the smoke generating out of the smoke bomb. Ultimately, the direct heat from the grill is what cooks these ribs but it’s the smoke wafting up and swirling around the ribs that makes your dinner guests wonder how much you spent on your non-existent name brand smoker.

8.     After twenty minutes, generously brush both sides of your slab with your favorite BBQ sauce. Every ten minutes after, flip your slab and reapply your sauce. Cook to desired doneness (you should be able to pull this off in a cook time of about an hour, depending on the type of grill you’re using and the amount of ribs cooking).


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Note: A special thanks to Alex Kim for the photos.