Saturday, February 19, 2011

Slow-Roasted Lamb Ribs

You might never see lamb ribs at the grocery store. But if you did see them, how would you cook them? To be clear, I'm not talking about racks of lamb or any meaty hunks with ribs attached. I'm talking about just the ribs, like pork spare ribs.

I ended up with lamb ribs because I buy a whole lamb every year, and that means I get all the interesting parts that don't make it onto supermarket shelves.

You can find leg of lamb and lamb chops most of the time. You might find lamb shoulder or lamb steaks. But the odd parts go somewhere else. Maybe into stew or gyros meat. But when you buy a whole lamb, you get ribs and neckbones and some odd looking chops.

I probably should have saved the ribs for summer and cooked them on the grill, but when I opened the freezer and reached in, the ribs were right there and they seemed appealing. So I pulled 'em out and thawed 'em out and contemplated what to do with them.

I considered braising and I considered cooking them in my tagine. But, no, I decided oven-roasting was the way to go. They were nice and fatty so I knew they wouldn't dry out.

But what about seasonings? I've lost my taste for lamb and mint for some reason. I love lamb chops with lemon and oregano, and I like leg of lamb with coffee and soy sauce. I've made racks of lamb with mustard and bread crumbs, and I've studded roasts with garlic. And of course, rosemary is great with lamb.

And then there are fruity things that work well in tagine dishes. And tomatoes and spices...

So many choices, and all of them sounded so good.

In the end, I decided to treat them simply and cook them low and slow. Not much of a recipe, but I rubbed them with a little garlic olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and put them in the oven at 250 degrees for about 3 hours.

They were tender, but not falling off the bone- still a bit of a chew. They could have cooked longer, but they were great the way they were.


Sheila Ann said...

They look amazing, Donna!

Cook said...

Very Easy Stuff:
Buy Whole Lamb (Packaged Properly, gor gaw's sake!!).
Store in Freezer.
Select, thaw and cook as with any other meat, knowing that the cuts are much smaller. Some may take less time if small, yet others benefit from long braises.
In the case of 'typical' back ribs, cook 'em like pork ribs (gently) and savor the polite differences in flavor, and NOT masked by a strong rub or sauce. Polite seasoning is enough for lamb. I know that you agree. For any readers who disagree: Please find those frozen lamb ribs and FedEx them to ME. I'll pay some of the freight.
Typical "Pork Cut" lamb ribs are rare, valuable and a delight, several points beyond pork ribs, perfectly done. Lamb is lamb and it does not need much beyond basic S&P, maybe not even the salt. Be gentle and go go go.
I too buy a whole lamb. Unless they have changed the anatomy, mine also come with only two rib slabs. This is sad. So where do they go? Pet-food: Not. Ground lamb: Not. The lamb growers and processors already understand the dirty little secret: They Keep the Ribs for themselves! Very smart folks.

Anonymous said...

Walmart, funnily enough, sometimes has em and freeze em!

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