Every now and then there is a recipe idea that pops in my head that changes my perspective on wild game cooking. For me, this was one of them.
This recipe is nothing more than a super fancy “backstrap,” as the visual beauty of this dish does absolutely NOTHING to enhance the flavor of the venison. But let’s face it. Sometimes, looks matter.
If you can pull this one off, I would recommend doing this after a fight with your spouse, or meeting the parents for the first time. This recipe is a “get out of jail free card.” They will say, “well… at least he can cook.”
And the best part? It’s insanely simple to do. All you will need is a pair of tin snips, a sharp knife, salt, pepper and some butcher’s twine. This recipe is 90% prep. And for this, you need to plan ahead.
I usually prep at least one of these racks the day I harvest the animal. I will explain in detail, step by step instructions on how to take a seemingly intimidating process, and make it a new staple in your “oh shit! I need to do something nice for my wife” arsenal.
Or hey, maybe you need to pull this one out when you want to impress a new lady in your life.
Smoked Antelope Crown Roast
– One Rack of Antelope
– Coarse Salt
– Fresh Cracked Pepper
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil
After your animal is skinned and gutted, start by cutting along the spine of the animal as you would to normally remove the backstrap. But to NOT go any further. You want the ribs to remain attached the meat. Remove the rib meat from each rib. (see picture).
Then, with a pair of tin snips, cut each rib bone where it meets the vertebra. It’s easiest to do this from the INSIDE of the rib cage. Once all the ribs are cut, the rack should simply fall off the animal. However, you may need to do a little more cutting. Just be very careful to not cut along the ribs.
Once the rack is removed, clean the ribs of any fat, meat or tissue. This is the time-consuming part. One easy way of doing this, is to scrape your knife blade up and down the bones. The ribs should be clean. You may now wrap and freeze (obviously, fresh and never frozen will give you the best results).
When you’re ready to cook it, thaw the rack slowly in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Once thawed, remove the rack and season heavily with salt and pepper. Then wrap with plastic and set at room temperature for a minimum of one hour. Pro tip: I prefer 2 or 3 hours.
You want the internal temperature of the meat to be at room temperature when you cook it. Throwing a cold piece of meat on the fire is by far the most common mistake I see. There is a beautiful sear on the outside, a beautiful pink on the center, but then a dreaded gray ring in-between.
Making sure your meat is at room temperature before cooking will cure this.
Once at room temperature, in a smoking hot cast iron pan, sear the rack on all sides in a little olive oil until golden brown. This should only take about 30 seconds a side.
Then place your rack on a cutting board and bend the rack in a circle with the bones facing outward. Secure with butcher’s twine. You should be able to set the rack on its ass and it will sit upright on its own resembling a “crown”.
Then, smoke this piece of art in the smoker (I prefer hickory) at 225 degrees for about an hour… ish…
It is VERY important that you use a meat thermometer. Pull the meat out of the smoker at 132 degrees.
Let rest at room temperature for 5-10 mins. Cut and remove the butcher’s twine.
Finally, with a sharp chef’s knife, slice individual steaks in-between each rib.
This is the part where I usually say “enjoy,” but you already are.