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May 13, 2014 11:45 AM

Lamb ribs

I love making spareribs in the summer. I marinade them overnight in a dry rub and then place them on a rib rack (so they are standing, not on the actual grill) and cook them for about 3-4 hours using indirect heat. There are members of my family who don't eat pork, so I thought I would make lamb ribs. Can I use the same method or will the get over cooked? Should lamb ribs be rare?

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  1. There's no reason that method couldn't work wonderfully with lamb. I like my lamb medium.

    1. My wife would marinate the lamb ribs in equal measures of oil and red wine along with chopped garlic cloves for several hours. We have lamb chops quite often.

      My wife likes to buy Icelandic lamb which is available for only a short period in a given year. We prefer our lamb medium rare.

      1. You can go either way -- either low & slow and well-done for the typical rib texture, or you can blast them in a 500F oven for 20 minutes or so to get them crispy outside and rare and juicy inside. Today's lamb -- even the riblets -- is so tender it doesn't need the traditional sparerib treatment if you want to go the other way.

        Guess which way I prefer. Only salt & pepper are necessary but you can season to your heart's content if you wish.

        2 Replies
        1. re: acgold7

          thanks acgold7. I admit the 500F blast is appealing and I love lamb rare. is there a grill version of that? I don't think my gas grill gets up to 500F

          1. re: JC2

            Most gas grills get up to at least that. But as noted below, you'll likely end up with lots of flame and charred lamb. I'd do it in the oven at 400 or 450 if you can't go up to 500, and then maybe finish on the grill for a few seconds on each side just to get some marks.

            If you want to actually cook on the grill I'd definitely go with indirect heat -- no heat source directly below the lamb due to the fat.

            Try to buy them in full racks if you can.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Be careful doing lamb riblets on the grill. They're so fatty that a grease fire will burn everything to a crisp before you can blink. I can't move fast enough to grab each individual rib and move it away from the intense flames.

            15 Replies
            1. re: mucho gordo

              Agree - oftentimes, they are so fatty that you need to render the fat. I will cook slower - I like medium rare lamb, but I think that ribs are good beyond that temp. I place them on the upper rack of my grill with a pan underneath in the center of the grill and I don't turn on the middle burner. Then finish over direct heat to get a char. I do the rib rack whole., placing the fatter end toward the back of the grill. Kinda like the ends charred and medium on the fatter part.

              Just curious, are you talking about just lamb ribs, or rack of lamb?

              1. re: rudeboy

                Just the individual riblets for Mrs. G. I also have to place them on the grill carefully so they don't fall through. I prefer other cuts of lamb and cook them a bit on the rare side.

              2. re: mucho gordo

                Breast of lamb is very fatty, as mucho g. points out. We usually roast in the oven, as a full slab. It's still a difficult cut to get right - it needs to have fat rendered, yet not burn, which usually means it's "well done", rather than anything else. Much better is a boned & rolled breast joint for roasting.

                  1. re: bcc

                    Sounds right. My dalmatian and I loved it cooked in such a manner from the old school Whole Foods.

                  2. re: Harters

                    James Beard's lamb breast recipe (from the original JB Cookbook) calls for cooking the slab in a kettle with water to cover, a peeled onion, bay leaf and salt, for about thirty minutes after the water boils. Cover, lower heat and simmer. Then you put it on a platter, cover with another platter or several layers of foil, weight it with full cans or a small boat anchor or docile child – no, no, made that up – and after it's cooled off uncover it and pull out the bones. Well, I didn't do that; I just cut the slab into three-rib or so sections. He says to mix mustard and catsup to coat the meat and to roll in crumbs before broiling or grilling, but I think we can do better than that – we have come along a bit since 1970, haven't we? I like to brush a rack of lamb with a mixture of olive oil and harissa paste before roasting it, and I think that or a similar preparation would work here. When I did this breast (years ago!) I believe I used a BBQ sauce I'd made up and finished them on the Weber. I also remember they were very good. Haven't done any lately, partly because I'm now the only carnivore in the house (beside the cats), partly because for some reason lamb breast was easier to find in Nashville than in SoCal.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      I've never made that recipe, Will. I have it in mind that it's a classic French preparation (but I could easily be wrong). Eaten it two or three times in restaurants and have to say that, yes, we might have come along a bit since 1970 but I don't believe I've tasted a finer way with the breast.

                      1. re: Harters

                        I just try to avoid catsup! I'm wondering if brushing on only mustard and crumbing, like the recipe he has for grilled pig's feet (the kind I ate at Chartres!) would do for lamb breast as well. With or without the drizzled-on butter.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I don't see how you could go wrong here; mustard coat and crumb works well on roasted rack (or leg) of lamb.

                      2. re: Will Owen

                        It's never a good idea to boil/simmer meat unless you are making stock. Boiled ribs are an abomination and it's completely unnecessary. All the flavor goes into the water.

                        1. re: acgold7

                          Boiled bacon ribs (not to be confused with pork ribs) are a classic of Irish cooking (and that of the north of England). The ribs are commonly available at butchers and supermarkets. Invariably served with cabbage. And, usually, mashed potato.

                            1. re: acgold7

                              Surely, you would simmer meat in every stew or casserole.

                              The defence rests, m'lud :-)

                              1. re: Harters

                                Well, yes, of course, but there you are consumng the liquid as well. It just would drive me crazy to leach out all the flavor into a liquid that is thrown away.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Well, yes. But the stock you get from cooking the bacon ribs is excellent for soup. Nothing goes to waste with us frugal northerners.