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Nasty Bits: Goat Ribs, Part Two

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Last week I stewed pieces of goat that required quite a lot of stewing to make tender. I bought the goat for stewing from a Mexican market near my place in Spanish Harlem, and that same day, I also purchased lamb ribs from a farmers' market downtown.

The goats ribs were so tender and mild that I almost wished they were more goat-y. Still, I would much rather err on the side of mild when it comes to goat, just as I've always liked lamb over mutton.

One of the nicest things about the goat ribs is how tender they were without being fatty, like lamb ribs. See for yourself:

Not that I dislike fat, or would ever want such an accusation to be made of me. But I do like variety, and these goat ribs were refreshingly devoid of fat.

Here's one of my favorite preparations for ribs. I first ate lamb ribs prepared this way in Beijing, then again at a restaurant in Flushing, the farthest outpost on the 7 train in Queens. The restaurant is one of the few in the city serving Northern Chinese fare, and the full rack of lamb ribs we ordered arrived positively blanketed in cumin seeds.

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Lamb ribs from Fu Run. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

The concentration of cumin seeds on just one rack of lamb was startling. Then you bit into a rib, stewed until it was fork-tender, and the cumin seeds crunched and crackled in your mouth. Am I making this sound appetizing? It was, believe me. It was one of the best bites I'd had in a long time.

To get the cumin seeds to cling to the rack of ribs, the surface is torched once encrusted with the spice mixture (which is, again, mostly cumin seed and maybe some ground cloves and coriander). In your kitchen, instead of torching, you can toast the cumin seeds in a pan. Brown the meat in a pan - if you are using lamb ribs, you will hardly need any additional fat as the fat rendered will be plenty. If you are using goat ribs, you will need a bit of oil.

Once the meat is brown and a little crisp on the surface, pat the seeds onto the ribs. The result will not be quite as crunchy, but it will be a fine approximation. Also, most iterations of the dish have toasted and ground dried chili peppers in addition to the toasted cumin seeds. If you are spicy-averse, forgo the chili peppers and you will still have a delectable rack of ribs.

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