Slow-Cooker Braised Elk Ribs

Elk ribs, from Bradley Smoker forumA guest had brought some pre-packed elk ribs so I made this for dinner yesterday (and of course forgot to take a picture, so you get a stock picture of what the uncooked ribs look like). I adapted the base recipe from Brown Hollow using ingredients I had which inspired me. Yeah, it’s pretty shameless the way I tinker with recipes and ignore instructions nowadays; my mom, who does the same but doesn’t own up to it, shakes her head.

I served this with a baby spinach salad topped with some of Edmund’s cranberry-orange relish and chopped pecans, and a side of basmati rice cooked with Edmund’s Moroccan preserved lemons.

Slow-Cooker Braised Elk Ribs

  • One slab of elk ribs (1.5 to 5 lbs or 0.7 to 2.2 kg)
  • Montreal Steak Rub or just salt and pepper

Braising Liquid

  • 8 ounces (250 mL) home-made cranberry-orange relish if you have it, or store-bought red currant jelly
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground mustard powder
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) tawny port
  • 4 cups (1 L) home-made chicken, turkey, pork, or beef stock (I used turkey)
  • ½ tsp ground allspice or crushed allspice berries
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) juniper berries (10 to 12), scorched and coarsely crushed (actually, I left them whole this time)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom or 4-5 pods, husks removed and finely crushed
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar
  • ½ cup (125 mL) apple brandy
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. In a slow-cooker set on High, whisk all braising liquid ingredients down to the cinnamon, being careful to liquefy the cranberry or currant jelly. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook for a while; this can take up to an hour if your liquids were cold. Alternately, heat and reduce in a pan on the stovetop before pouring in the slow-cooker if you want to hurry things up.
  2. Meanwhile, pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Rub with the rub mix or just salt and pepper. Brown the ribs in a cast iron skillet.
  3. Place ribs in slow-cooker, with the liquid level coming up over ribs and about three-fourths of the way up. If you need more liquid, add more broth or just water. Rinse the skillet you browned the ribs in with some of the braising liquid to get all those meat juices, and return the liquid to the slow-cooker.
  4. Aromatic and root vegetables such as onion, potatoes, turnip, celery, and carrot may be added in an amount to loosely cover the meat. I added little red potatoes 2 hours later in the cooking so they would be just right by dinner time.
  5. Simmer for at least 4 hours. The longer they simmer, the more tender the ribs get. Six to eight hours brings them to falling-off-the bone, which is the desired level of doneness.

Don’t add salt or pepper until serving time, as this makes a fairly spicy broth thanks to the mustard and the rub on the ribs. I saved the leftover liquid to cook a piece of beef later this week, rather than waste it.

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-coloured liquid.

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2 thoughts on “Slow-Cooker Braised Elk Ribs

  1. Extremely good. Would probably do well with beef ribs too. Not so sure about pork but I may be biased due to my love for dry cooked pork ribs.

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