"Hunger is the best sauce." Marcus Tullius Cicero
Wham, bam, thank you lamb!
When grilling red meat, I love a great beef burger or ribeye steak as much as the next guy or gal, but I also like to mix it up now and then with some lamb. A nicely seared lamb chop (a.k.a. lamb lollipop) is, in my opinion, nature's perfect food on a stick. And who doesn't feel like a king or queen when a giant leg of lamb hits the table during the holidays? One taste of a Greek inspired lamburger and you may even find yourself pushing beef to the side of the grill!
I discovered my all-time favorite lamb dish at Memphis' famed Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous: lamb ribs! At Rendezvous, they grill the ribs over charcoal until browned and tender, and then serve them without any sauce to highlight the balance of the slightly gamey meat and the herb scented dry rub. In a nod to the original, I created the following slow smoked, dry rubbed lamb ribs recipe for you to fire up at home.
Recipe: Dry Rub Lamb Ribs
Makes. 2 to 4 servings
Takes. 10 minutes of prep. 3 hours to smoke.
Serve with. Pale ale or Syrah.
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 racks lamb ribs (such as those found online through D'Artagnan)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt per pound of meat
1/4 cup mayonnaise
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
About the mayonnaise. The mayo is optional but something I have used for years. Like the more popular yellow mustard, mayonnaise binds the dry rub to the meat, but I prefer mayo because it doesn't add the sharp flavor of mustard. Plus, it adds fat, which benefits the ribs.
1) Prep. For the rub, combine paprika, brown sugar, ground mustard, granulated garlic, dried thyme, lemon pepper, ground rosemary, and ground coriander in a small bowl and blend well.
2) For the lamb, remove membrane from the ribs (read more on removing rib membranes here).
3) Season the ribs with Kosher salt. If you can, give the salt 1 to 2 hours to be absorbed. The process of salting in advance is called dry brining. The rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat, but ribs are about 50% meat, so use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. You can simply eyeball it by sprinkling on the same amount of salt you would sprinkle on the ribs if they were served to you unseasoned.
4) Fire up. Prepare a smoker for indirect cooking. Alternatively, you can set up a charcoal grill for 2-zone cooking by placing a chimney full of lit charcoal briquets on one side of the grill's charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Adjust the smoker or grill vents to bring the temperature to about 225°F and add 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 225°F on the indirect side.
5) Once the smoker or grill is ready, brush both sides of the ribs with mayonnaise and season with the dry rub.
6) Cook. Place both racks of ribs on the main cooking grate as far away from the heat source as possible. Set the lid on the grill with top vent fully open and positioned directly above the ribs in order to force the smoke over and around the meat. Allow the ribs to smoke until the meat is tender, about 3 hours.
7) Serve. Remove the ribs from the grill, slice, and serve immediately.