Wild Game Recipe: Italian Short Ribs

Wild Game Recipe: Italian Short Ribs

This is an adaptation of a wonderful Italian short ribs recipe in a wonderful book, Paul Bertolli's Cooking by Hand, which would be one of my "desert island" cookbooks.

Make this wild game dish with ribs cut from a large animal — certainly elk and moose, but also the exotic red deer, nilgai, and oryx. You might be able to get away with this with a great big deer, but it would have to be a lunker.


You will want the ribs cut somewhere between four and six inches long, and either in a block of ribs or as individual ribs. Trim any excess fat off the cap of the ribs, but you do want a little fat remaining. Serves 4 and can be scaled up.


3 cups purple grape juice

6 ribs, each about 4 to 6 in. long

Salt and black pepper

4 slices of bacon

¼ cup olive oil

1 large celery stalk, minced

2 carrots, minced

2 large onions, minced

A big handful (or 1 standard package) dried mushrooms

¼ cup tomato paste

2 cups red wine

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 sprig fresh rosemary or

1 tbsp. dried

1 qt. venison or beef broth

10 fresh sage leaves or

1 tbsp. dried & ground

Boil down the grape juice to 1 cup in a small pot. Set aside. Take out the ribs and salt them well. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large, heavy, lidded pot, like a Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove and chop. Set aside.

Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel and brown them in the bacon fat, adding olive oil if you need to. When you brown the ribs, do every side except for the one with the bone showing — if you brown this side, the bones will fall off the meat too soon. When the ribs are browned, remove to a plate.

Add the minced vegetables and cook over medium heat until they are well browned, stirring occasionally. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Crumble the dried mushrooms over the vegetables and add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook another 3 or 4 minutes, stirring often. You want the tomato paste to darken.

Add the red wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape the residue off the bottom of the pan to mix in with the wine. Boil the red wine down by half, then add the cooked-down grape juice and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well and return the ribs to the pot, bone side up. Pour in any juices that have accumulated with the ribs.

Add the herbs.

Let this cook down a few minutes, then add enough venison broth to just barely cover the ribs. Cover the pot and put it in the oven to cook for at least 2.5 hours. You want the meat to be thinking about falling off the bone, but not actually there. This could take as long as 4 hours with an old elk or moose.

When the meat is ready, gently remove it from the pot and set aside. Now you have a choice. You can use the braising liquid as-is, or you can make it smooth. I prefer smooth. To do this, you can push it through the medium plate of a food mill, use a "boat motor" stick blender, or pour everything into a blender and buzz it. Taste the resulting sauce. If it is to your liking, you are good to go. If it's too thin, boil it down until it's like a barbecue sauce. Right before you serve the sauce, add some black pepper.

Coat the ribs in the sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes or another mashed vegetable.

Recommended for You

North America Big Game

How to Field Judge Bears

Jospeh Von Benedikt

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size.

Other Game

Today's Updated Turkey Hunting Gear

Joe Arterburn

The most modern ammo and gear increase the odds of bagging a tricky tom this spring.


What's In Your Backcountry Pack?

Tracy Breen

Having just the right amount of lightweight gear can make or break a hunt. Find out the best...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 9: Aloha Axis Deer

Host Mike Schoby joins his buddies Jon Dubin and Jeff Johnston on the island of Lanai for a deer hunt Hawaiian style!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

North America

Best States To Hunt For Black Bears

Joseph von Benedikt - July 13, 2017

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great...


Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

See More Stories

More Recipes


How to Make the Perfect Christmas Goose

Hank Shaw

A whitefront or specklebelly goose easily feeds four people and has the perfectly sweet flavor...


The Science Behind Aging Wild Game

David Draper

Aging wild game results in tender, flavorful meat. Here's your guide to where, why, and for...


Venison Italian Meatball Sandwiches Recipe

Hannah Walton

A delicious wild game meatball recipe you can make with ground venison or wild turkey.

See More Recipes

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.