Last weekend in the New York Times Sunday magazine (June 26, 2011), was a nice food story, written by Sam Sifton, featuring glazed lamb ribs. Quite accurately, Sam observes that, heretofore, lamb ribs were rarely offered on restaurant menus and hardly ever in the supermarket. Yet, now, in 2011, restaurants such as DBGB, Casa Mono and Recette are serving them — slow-cooked, grilled, deep-fried, confit, strewn with exotic spices, Moroccan lemon pickles, glazed, or cooled with a variety of yogurt sauces (including an intriguing sounding one — smoked yogurt — from Recette).
Enter Little Meals: A Great New Way to Eat & Cook, published in 1993, where one of the first recipes for lamb ribs was ever published. I always loved them and made arrangements with butchers, when possible, to prepare them for me. Lamb ribs come from the breast plate of the animal and can be simply separated rib by rib. They are very fatty, but at the same time, they are moist and succulent and very forgiving if you overcook them or even undercook them! They are everything one loves about ribs to begin with, only with a bit of funk and mystery.
My “slow-barbecued” riblets have a pungent sweet-and-sour glaze that turns an inexpensive cut of meat into the ultimate finger food. Serve with tiny baked sweet potatoes for a very interesting combination and garnish with some mustard cress.
Orange-Ginger Lamb Ribs (adapted from Little Meals)
Have your butcher cut between the bones of the ribs to make individual ribs. Dated 1993. In 2011, I add a splash of Sriracha sauce to the marinade.
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
3 pounds lamb ribs
Combine orange juice, hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, mustard, garlic and ginger and stir well. Pour over the ribs. Cover and marinate several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from the marinade and transfer marinade to a saucepan. Place ribs on a broiler pan fitted with a rack. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes. Bring marinade to a boil and cook 10 minutes until syrupy. Remove foil and bake 45 minutes longer, basting the ribs frequently with the marinade (using a pastry brush.) Serve garnished with cress, wedges of oranges, and remaining marinade. Serves 4
Drink your favorite beer or a big, fruity tempranillo or syrah. Que syrah, syrah, as they say. Enjoy!