The Perfect Rack — Lamb Ribs

At The Farm and Fisherman in Philadelphia last week, it wasn’t just the bloody beet steaks that were a hit. I especially enjoyed the lamb ribs. I don’t recall ever seeing lamb ribs on a grocery shelf before, let alone a restaurant menu, but it makes sense: lambs must have ribs, which could only mean we are meant to eat them.

I decided I had to cook this myself for Sunday night dinner. But where to find the lamb ribs? I tracked them down at Whole Foods, where I had to speak with the butcher as they weren’t on the shelf. The Farm and Fisherman served their ribs sumac crusted, but I was unable to find sumac and was only offered moderate encouragement, so I decided to go a different route. I found this New York Times recipe, which I used as a base, straying somewhat for creative ownership.

Recipe after the jump.

Lamb Ribs

Serves 6 (Or 4,  for leftovers!) 

3lbs of lamb ribs (approx 2x racks)
4x cloves garlic, crushed
1tbs thyme leaves
1tbs rosemary, chopped
kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Remove as much excess fat as possible from the back of the ribs, being careful not to cut off the meat (if you don’t get it all, not to worry, the fat will fall right off once it’s cooked).

Season the ribs with the garlic, thyme, rosemary and salt. Cook in the oven in a baking pan for 3hrs, turning once. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, slice up the rack to create individual ribs, and prepare a grill at low-medium heat — I have an infra-red grill which worked fine; using a coal grill would give you that extra something; a broiler would do the trick too.


1 cup of honey
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
2tbs red pepper flakes
1tbs fennel seeds
1tbs freshly ground black pepper

Heat the honey and vinegar in a heavy saucepan, reduce by half. Add the red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and pepper. Keep on the stove for a further one minute.

Place the lamb ribs on the grill and brush with the glaze, turning at least once to coat each side. No more than 5 minutes.

The lamb fell right off the bone, just like you’d expect from pork or short ribs, with the grilling and glazing providing a nice little kick to the tender meat. I served with double-fried chips, a perfect compliment to a perfect rack.


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  • Chris October 10, 2011  

    Looks tasty and I do love lamb, but aren’t “lamb ribs” just a rack of lamb? These look like they have not been frenched. Is that the difference?

  • MaryAlice October 10, 2011  

    I love lamb ribs and in 1960’s used to just broil them; they were a very cheap cut of meat. And whatever happened to lambs’ hearts? Those were very good, too. Something my mother made.

  • Russell Warnick October 10, 2011  

    @Chris, I think you might be right. Not quite ribs in the traditional sense due to the cut, and to my disappointment but the butcher was adamant that these were ribs. Before cooking, with the fat still on, they were a little more substantial and looked a lot more like the ribs I was hoping for.

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