Recipe of the Month-Lamb Riblets (okay, last month).
I am finding it so hard to write about food with all of the worrisome things going on in the U.S. lately. But I persevere because, hey, a girl’s gotta eat, and keep up her strength (ha) for the revolution!
So, here’s what I made for a little Easter dinner at home for me, myself, and I: Lamb Riblets.
I have loved these forever, and can’t remember how or where I first had them or read about them. I’ve bought them in the past from Cherry Grove Farm, and am pasting in my recipe for preparing those below. But I am lazier these days so took serious shortcuts from a Steven Raichlen recipe for my Easter dinner.
My recipe for Lamb Riblets from, I believe, 2004:
One of my cookbooks says to par-boil lamb riblets for 30 minutes to tenderize them, then grill and baste with a glaze, to keep them from being tough. I took a different approach, one of slow-roasting, and then raising the heat at the end to sear the glaze a little.
I marinated 1 pound of riblets in (these are rough measurements):
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic, or 1 crushed clove
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or honey or mirin can be used)
pinch of red pepper flakes
(I would have probably also used a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, if I hadn’t been out of it!)
I marinated them overnight in a plastic zipper bag in the refrigerator, turning the bag occasionally. Then I put them, with their marinade, in a small roasting pan, and roasted them for about 1 1/2 hours at 300-degrees. I checked them frequently, and turned them, as the marinade cooked down to a syrupy consistency.
Then I put them under the broiler for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, just to crisp up the outside. You could do this on a grill too, of course. But the basic principal is 1) marinate, 2) slow roast, 3) crisp up with higher heat.
Now, today, I take an easier route, inspired by the flavor profile in this recipe from Steven Raichlen’s “Project Smoke.” But I used a purchased rub on individual riblets, then roasted them on a roasting rack over a pan in the oven (lots of fat will drain off). I set the oven for 325° and kept a close eye on them for about 1 1/2 hours to be sure they didn’t burn. When they were just about done, I basted them with purchased BBQ sauce, just enough to glaze. There were still a little chewy, which I don’t mind, but if you do, you could lower the heat and increase the cooking time. You may need to cover the ribs for part of the roasting time, however, as they will get very dark.
So, my two shortcuts for Raichlen’s recipe (aside from not having a grill!) were significant: I used a purchased Asian-inflected spice rub and a purchased cherry-based bbq sauce I had on hand. Those who are up for more of a project, feel free to follow his instructions, I really trust his flavors, and I’ll bet that Cherry Cola sauce is killer!
The rub was Penzey’s Singapore Seasoning, a salt-free blend. I’m sure our local Savory Spice Shop has a similar blend, anything Asian-ish should do fine. (I did lightly salt the ribs before coating with the rub, however.)
There are several cherry-based bbq sauces on the market, although I haven’t checked locally recently. Anything with some fruitiness should do, even an Asian sauce with some Asian pear in it. (Or add some pomegranate syrup.)
I used to adore a locally produced cherry bbq sauce (who was that French guy who made that?), and was heartbroken when he stopped production. I would buy it at Whole Foods, so when I saw it was gone, I grabbed a bottle of Whole Foods’ Black Cherry Smokehouse BBQ Sauce I saw it there around the same time. (No idea if it’s still made, but I suspect not. That’s the trouble when a store has to cut costs, the things that made them special often are the first to go! I’m looking at you, too, Wegmans.)
You may have to special order lamb breast or riblets at your local market, I’ve been ordering mine at (you guessed it!) FreshDirect. In the photo, I’ve served them with asparagus (because, Easter) and FD’s coconut rice. It was a fantastic dinner.