Lamb Ribs with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce
4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 to 2 hours, largely unattended
The pork belly of lamb, only with bones for gnawing. It’s hard to believe this extraordinary eating experience used to be sold for scrap. Lamb ribs are attached to the breast; they require slow cooking to tenderize the meat and melt away as much fat as possible. Give what’s left the chop treatment and serve with a dipping sauce and you won’t be able to stop eating. If you’re cooking with charcoal, I recommend starting with a big, hot fire and not stoking it. To avoid a total fireball when you crisp up the ribs, you want the fire to be pretty mellow. Even so there will be flare-ups, so don’t walk away. Give the ribs 1 to 3 minutes per side, then get them off.
5 pounds lamb breast
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1. Start the coals or heat a gas grill for high to medium-high indirect cooking. Make sure the grates are clean. If using charcoal, put a drip pan under the indirect side of the grill; for gas, empty, clean, and replace the fat trap.
2. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. To make the dipping sauce, whisk the maple syrup, mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar together in a small bowl.
3. Put the ribs on the indirect side of the grill, bone side up, with a long side facing the fire. Close the lid. Move and rotate the breast after 30 minutes for even cooking. Cook until the meat is tender. Test it by trying to cut apart two ribs; you should be able to do it with no resistance. This will take 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how hot the fire is.
4. Transfer the breast pieces to a cutting board, cut between the bones into individual ribs, and return them to the grill, directly over the fire. (If cooking with gas, turn the burners down as low as they will go.) Close the lid and let them crisp up, turning once, for 1 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Lamb Ribs with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
For the dipping sauce, whisk together 6 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce and 3 tablespoons each fish sauce and fresh lime juice.
Lamb Ribs with Ginger-Garlic Dipping Sauce
For the dipping sauce, whisk together 1/4 cup each soy sauce and orange juice and 2 tablespoons each minced fresh ginger and garlic.
Lamb Ribs with Cranberry-Black Pepper Dipping Sauce
For the dipping sauce, simmer 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice over medium heat until it’s reduced to 1⁄2 cup. Whisk in 2 tablespoons each balsamic vinegar and turbinado sugar and 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper.