A “Frenched” rack of venison is basically a bone-in backstrap prepared like a rack of lamb. It is butchered in such a way that the loin is still attached to the ribs, providing a dramatic presentation on the plate and nice little handles for your loin chops. Deer meat is too lean for small single chops to come out tasting very good, so it’s best to cook them in four- to eight-rib-length roasts. It’s a great way to add something special to your meal, and an opportunity to learn an advanced butchering technique along the way.
All you need is a decent knife and a hand saw to make this cut from start to finish—though, a reciprocating or meat band saw would make the job easier. Here’s a simple guide to butchering and cooking a frenched rack of venison.
How to Butcher a Frenched Rack of Venison
- Start with a deer saddle—this is the torso, from where the neck joins the body back to the last rib.
2. Mark about halfway up the ribs with your knife. Use this cut as a guide and remove the lower rib sections from both sides of the saddle with the saw.
3. Separate the backstraps parallel to the spine with your knife.
4. Saw below the loin through the bone on either side of the central spinal column all the way along the length of the spine. This should yield you two large even racks.
5. Remove meat from the rib face and between the ribs for grinding. Cut the large racks into four- or eight-rib sections.
6. Tie a length of heavy monofilament or bowstring serving to a large, solid object. Loop the string around each rib and pull to remove leftover meat and clean up the bone. Remove any remaining hair, gristle, and other junk on the racks.
Frenched Rack of Venison with Roasted Peppers and Onions
Years ago I worked in a restaurant where I learned to make an amazing Frenched rack of lamb. The rack sat nestled on a bed of peppers and onions and was served with a rich demi-glace. This dish formed the inspiration for the wild-game version you see here. The venison rack is seared, then roasted to perfection, served on a mound of peppers and onions, and drizzled with a savory brown sauce. This elegant, restaurant-quality dish is easy to make and a great way to elevate your wild-game cooking.
- 1 rack of venison
- 2 onions
- 2 peppers
- ½ dark beer
- 1 ½ cups stock, beef or game
- 1 sweet apple
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 5 juniper berries
- 5 peppercorns
- Season a rack of venison with salt and pepper and sear it in a pan on all sides. Create a bed of thinly sliced peppers and onions in a separate oven-safe pan—seasoned and drizzled with olive oil—then lay the rack on top.
2. Place the pan in a preheated 400°F oven for about 10 minutes for rare to medium-rare, then rest. Continue to saute the peppers and onions if necessary.
3. Toast juniper, cinnamon, and peppercorns in a saucepan for two minutes. Add a diced apple, deglaze the pan with a dark beer or wine, then add brown sugar, and the stock. Reduce into a thick sauce and strain. Season to taste, add butter if desired.
4. Cut and serve the rack with the peppers and onions, the sauce, fresh arugula, and a scallion or chive garnish.