Festive Venison French Rack

Serves: 4
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Cook time: 45-65 minutes
Method: Roasting

A properly prepared and cooked Frenched Rack (AKA Rib Roast) is one the best-looking, tastiest cuts you can plate any day of the year, but especially during the holidays. Follow this simple recipe for Festive Venison Fren Rack and a few key prep steps from @WildGameJack and you’ll have a holiday dinner that will impress your guests and have them talking about your holiday spread for years to come. Leave the canned cranberry jelly on the grocery shelf this year and instead pair your venison with the accompanying freshly made bourbon cranberry sauce.

Recipe & Photography by @WildGameJack

Recipe Notes

Remove the silver skin before roasting (photo 1) and tie the roast together every few inches (photo 2).

Some key points to remember when preparing and cooking a Venison Frenched Rib Roast:

  • Remove the silver skin. This connective tissue is unpleasant both in terms of texture and taste. A fillet knife will easily do this. Tip: It helps to do this when the meat is still partially frozen.
  • Bring your venison to room temp by fully thawing then leaving out at room temp for 2-3 hours prior to cooking.
  • Liberally dust your venison with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper as it comes to room temp. Doing so 2-3 hours prior to cooking will make sure salt is properly absorbed for best flavor and moisture retention.
  • It helps to tie your roast with kitchen twine between the ribs and possibly at the ends, about every inch. A double square knot is all you need. This helps make sure the roast cooks evenly and larger sections don’t balloon out during cooking. Don’t tie too tight—just enough to create a uniform shape down the entire roast. Cinch in the meat just a little at each section.
  • Very important: Use an internal meat probe. You can find these online for as little as $25. You want a probe with oven-safe stainless steel mesh cables (ideally rated for 700 degrees Fahrenheit or higher). You will insert probe into thickest part of middle of roast and thread cable outside oven (close oven door on it) and plug into interface so you can monitor temp while roast cooks.
  • Upon removing from oven, let your roast rest on a stainless steel mesh tray or rack (something that will drip liquids versus allowing them to pool, which would soften exterior crust). Letting your roast rest distributes juices evenly but also raises the internal temp 5-10 degrees due to carryover.

Note: While this recipe is written for an oven, you can follow the same instructions and use a pellet grill and smoker for the first step. When instructions call for raising oven temp from 200 to 450, you may wish to transfer your roast from smoker or pellet grill to oven and follow the same steps. (To summarize: On the smoker or pellet grill at 200 until internal temp reads 110, transfer to oven that is at 200 but raised to 450 and cook until internal temp reads 125 to 130).

This recipe for Festive Venison French Rack is written for a medium-rare, nearly medium, cook; as this is the best way to prepare and serve this cut of venison.

Recipe: Festive Venison French Rack


  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon each of freshly minced ginger and garlic
  • Zest from one mandarin orange
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 ounces fresh basil, cut chiffonade (for garnish)
  • Olive oil


  1. Remove silver skin from roast. Remove fully thawed roast 2-3 hours prior to cooking to bring to room temp. Liberally dust with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  1. To make cranberry sauce, thinly slice a medium yellow onion. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of olive oil on medium and add onion. Dust with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  1. Once onions are slightly seared and brown, turn heat to medium low and continue to caramelize onions. Once onions are caramelized (after 20-30 minutes), add 1 teaspoon each of freshly minced ginger and garlic. Raise heat to medium and stir in for 2-3 minutes.
  1. Deglaze skillet contents with 1/2 cup bourbon. Stir in for a few minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock, followed by 12 ounces fresh cranberries, zest from one mandarin orange, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Stir frequently as cranberries crack and release juice. Sauce is done when most cranberries have cracked and sauce has a jelly-like texture but still some texture of actual cranberries. Turn to low until ready to serve.
  1. To cook rib roast, preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place roast in oven-safe dish, something ideally that will allow for ample air flow (so not a deep baking dish). Insert meat probe at thickest part of middle (as mentioned above) to monitor. Ovens vary with how well they circulate heat, so this initial step can take anywhere from 30 to minutes depending on if venison reached room temp and how well your oven works. The ideal in this first step is to have internal meat probe read 110.
  1. Once meat probe reads 110 (after 30-50 minutes), raise oven to 450. Do not oven door. Keep roast in oven with meat probe inserted. It should take about 15 minutes for roast to reach 125 to 130 degrees. Pull roast at 125 for guaranteed medium-rare cook or at 130 for a cook closer to medium. Remove probe and place roast on a rack to rest for 10 minutes prior to carving.
  1. Once ready to carve, use scissors to cut off kitchen twine. Serve with as much cranberry sauce as desired (or serve on side). Top with fresh basil cut chiffonade (basil leaves rolled lengthwise, like a cigar, then cut into thin strips).

About Wild Game Jack: Wild Game Jack is a hunter, photographer, and connoisseur of wild game preparation. His flavorful recipes and mouth-watering photography have been featured in publications such as Peterson’s Hunting, Outdoor Life, the Chicago-Sun Times, and more.

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