Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank, monetary salvation lies in knowledge. So, arm yourself with information and get to know your butcher. I’m a lover of lamb, but buying the rack every time will rob your wallet of its health. Lamb spare ribs, however, are often overlooked and if you can get your butcher to save some for you, the price will likely surprise you. Unpopular meat is cheap, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t scrumptious.
I often don’t have a meat-plan until I get to my market. I need to see what protein looks good, what produce is fresh, before I make my menu. This time, the lamb ribs sent me in a tizzy. I was planning to entertain a group of five and wanted to serve something spectacular. I knew a giant platter of thin, crispy, succulent spare ribs would lock down the party.
Walking into the produce aisle I found fennel from a nearby farm, some fresh cherries, and lemon thyme. That was nearly enough for my marinade. I threw in some whole grain mustard and white wine vinegar to punch up the flavor and called it a day.
The marinade sings of mid-summer, when anise is in the air and cherries are plump without modesty. Sweet, herby, tangy, it was a lick-your-fingers kind of meal. Lamb spare ribs aren’t hard to cook, but they do take some patience. You must marinate them, and you must cook them low and slow. Give them the gift of unaccompanied time and they’ll reward you with rendered fat, charred bones, and tender meat.
To sum up:
Don’t be a meat idiot. Chew new bones, learn new tricks.
1 large head Fennel, sliced thinly
2 cups Fresh Cherries, pitted (or 1/2 cup Cherry Jam)
6 full sprigs Lemon Thyme
¼ cup Whole Grain Mustard
2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Salt
2-3 pounds Lamb Spare Ribs
Balsamic Vinegar for serving
-Mix all ingredients (except for lamb) in a one-gallon plastic bag, set aside.
- -Trim the lamb ribs of nearly all exterior fat (there will be a lot), leaving a thin layer where you cannot get any closer to the meat without cutting into the muscle. If you are able, pull the translucent skin away from the muscle tissue. If it is too difficult, don’t worry, it will peel away easily after cooking. Slice in between the ribs part way, 3-4 inches, separating them a bit.
- -Add the lamb to the plastic bag with the marinade. Massage the meat through the plastic. Set the bag in a dish (in case it leaks) and put it in the fridge to marinate. Leave it overnight, at the very least, and up to three days.
- -Remove the lamb from the fridge 30-40 minutes before you plan to cook it, let the meat come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
-Heat your oven to 250 degrees.
- -Place the lamb and marinade in a deep roasting pan, with the meat side of the ribs facing down.
- -Roast the ribs for 3 hours, a meat thermometer should read 160 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the flesh.
- -Remove the ribs from the oven and crank the heat up to 500 degrees.
- -Slice through the ribs entirely, separating them. Flip them over, meat side facing up now, and put them back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The top should be bubbling, crispy, and crackling from the high heat.
- -Remove ribs from the oven and serve with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Prep. Time: 30 minutes+1-3 days marinating
Cooking Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 2-3 servings