Honey glazed lamb ribs

Have you had your fill of lamb yet? the weekend papers certainly told us that was what we were supposed to be eating over Easter (before the chocolate). Personally, I’m not sure it’s possible to have too much of this meat. So I make no apology for adding yet another ‘idea’ to the pile.

Whilst I saw countless recipes for slow roast shoulders, fast and slow roast legs, best end this, French trimmed that, neck, rump, etcetera, etcetera, I saw no rib or belly recipes. Shame – the belly (or breast) of a lamb is such a cheap and flavoursome part of the beast. One breast ought to cost you about £3.50 and will sort you out with six or more finger licking ribs. Two, rolled, braised, cooled, sliced and re-heated, will sort out 4-6 people for a fairly sizeable Sunday roast.

I’ll put up a rolled breast recipe at some point in the future, but for now do consider giving this honey roast lamb rib recipe a go. It makes a very easy, crowd pleasing starter. If we get a sustained sunny period, definitely consider pre-braising a bunch of ribs before finishing on the BBQ. You will be a hero.

Turning a lamb breast into ribs is super simple. You just need to do half of the cooking in advance – allowing the breast to cool before slicing into rib portions, glazing and roasting. They’re fatty but delicious; you’ll need something to cut through the richness, so serve with a green sauce (recipe below) or perhaps a harissa (see this quail recipe from a few weeks ago).

Honey roast lamb ribs and green sauce

1 lamb breast – ribs in squared off after the last bone (see picture)
1 onion, peeled, halved, each half quartered
1 stick celery, cut into inch long pieces
1.5 star anise
Zest from 1/2 lemon, peeled with a veg peeler
4 cloves garlic, skin on but cut in half
100ml water
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons honey
130g fresh mint leaves
50g flat leaf parsely
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
15g capers
60g olive oil
30g lemon juice
Pinch salt and pepper

Square the lamb breast off just after the rib cage finishes. You can cook the trimmings at the same time (and have as a cook’s treat).

Preheat your oven to 140C.

Put the onion, celery, garlic, lemon zest, anise and thyme in a baking tray or ceramic dish. Add the water. Rub a good grind of salt and pepper into the breast. Place on the base veg, skin and fat side up. Measure out a piece of greaseproof paper just bigger than the tray. Get that wet, crumple, then uncrumple and place over the lamb, tuck the edges into the tray. Cover the tray tightly with foil. Put in the middle of your oven and braise for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool with the foil still on. Once cool, remove the lamb from the liquid (and fat) and put in the fridge and chill completely (overnight is good).

When chilled, slice carefully in between each rib section. You may need to cut through cartilege at the top end of each rib. Use a heavy nice and be confident. Trim some fat from the bone end of each rib – so you’ll have a handle.

Heat your oven to 190C.

Brush honey over each rib (you might need to heat the honey first). Place on a flat tray and put in the oven – towards the top. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the ribs are beautifully brown and caramelised. Baste two or three times with the honeyed juices.

Make a fresh green dipping sauce by blitzing all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender. It’s good to blitz for at least 2 minutes, so the sauce is fairly smooth. The ribs are (deliciously) fatty, so a herby sauce is good for cutting through the richness.

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