How to Prepare and Cook Lamb Ribs
Some cuts you get back from a whole or half processed lamb will include things like a rack of ribs. I've given two flexible recipes for shanks and ground lamb HERE. But this article is going to go over the less common cut of ribs.
I used to use a local butcher to process my lambs and hogs. I used this butcher for years until recently, when I received a very disappointing outcome from them. I now take advantage of the TN AG's opinion on laws regarding home processing and meat shares to handle every aspect of raising livestock to slaughtering and packaging on the farm.
I'll go over how to trim and prepare a rack of ribs, which is especially important if you got back ribs from a butcher who failed to cut them properly. If you received the cuts from me directly, I've already removed the breast bone and removed the sinew, so you can skip ahead to the recipe.
The first thing to do is thaw out the meat properly in the refirgerator over the course of a day or two.
When the meat has thawed, unpack your rack of ribs and look at the shape. When I cut the rack of ribs here on the farm, they will be trimmed into a rectangular shape, with the breast removed. If you have an odd shaped, almost triangular piece back from the local butcher, then they have not removed the breast and it will make separating and eating the ribs awkward and tricky after cooking.
If the ribs have not been trimmed properly, you'll need a small meat hacksaw or a large serated knife that can handle cutting through some bone. You can buy meat blades (ones without paint on them) for just about any hack saw. Try Amazon, Cabela's, or your local general store might be able to order them for you. I think it's a good tool to have in the kitchen for quartering up chickens, or cutting roasts in half.
I like to take the ribs, lay them meat side down on a cutting board, and cut a guide line down the legnth of ribs to follow. The goal is to remove the pointed end where all the ribs connect at the breast bone, which will leave you with a cleaner rectangle of free-moving ribs. Firmly grip the ribs with a cloth or paper towel for grip and saw away the breast plate.
The next step, with the meat side still facing down, is to remove the thin film of sinew from the back of the ribs. It's not necessary, but it does make the final cooked ribs even easier to separate and eat. I usually do this when I am processing, but many butchers do not, so if you have ribs from a local store or butcher shop, check to see if this thin "skin" is still covering the bones. I take my fingernail and pick at the corner until it starts to peel like an old sticker. Then I use a paper towel to grip the "skin" and firmly peel back the sinew. It usually comes off in one piece, but much like removing a sticker, you may have to go back and get a few chunks off.
Finally! Those ribs are ready to dress and cook!
I strongly prefer my ribs on the charcoal grill, infused with the smokey flavor and crispy cracklings from the flame. But they do taste great out of the oven as well. Your cooking methods are up to you. Feel free to use any beef rib recipe for your lamb, just keep in mind they are smaller and will cook quicker. The key is low and slow for the best results. You cannot rush ribs.
My personal recipe is super simple and easy!
prepare a charcoal grill with two-zone heat - place your hot coals on all on one end of the grill to leave an indirect heating zone on the other end. You want the temperature around 225 to 250 degrees F.
Sear the unseasoned ribs directly over the hot coals until lightly browned (a couple of minutes on either side).
Remove the ribs from the direct heat, place on the opposite side of the coals in the "indirect heat zone" and lightly baste some of your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides. Keep the ribs, bone-side down and close the lid. Monitor the temp. and let them cook low and slow for the next hour.
When you check on the ribs, the fat should be rendering, melting, and the meat should be starting to pull back from the bones. At this point, I like to baste BBQ sauce on top of the ribs every 20 minutes or so until they are done, usually another hour or so at this low temperature. You could also finish them in the oven at this point for more control.
They should be juicy, sticky, crispy fat ends, and falling off the bone. You can expect a pink color to some of the meat when cooked in a smokey grill, that's normal.
Cooking is an art, use your own discretion on flavorings, sauces, and cooking temps and times - these are just guidelines to get you started.
All the best from your farmer at Autumn Earth Acres