The Other, Other Ribs: Spiced Lamb Ribs With Mustard Sauce

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Roasted lamb ribs with whole grain mustard sauce. [Photographs: Daniel Gritzer]

If there were a creation story about ribs—well, aside from the whole Eve being made from Adam's rib thing—it'd go like this: on the first day, God made pork ribs; on the second day, he made beef ribs; on the third day he made lamb ribs; on the fourth through sixth days he cooked and ate all those ribs, in that order; on the seventh day he made and promptly chewed up some Maalox.

There's a method to such divine madness. Pork ribs, well, they're unrivaled. They're meaty and flavorful, but still small and mild enough that you don't tire of them too quickly. Beef ribs, meanwhile, hit you over the head with fatty, tender meat, and tons of it. They're delicious, but they're also huge. And then there are lamb ribs: the other, other ribs. They may be forgotten more often than not, lost in the great shadows cast by the ribs of Day 1 and Day 2, but they have a place too. They're gamy, packed with more flavor than pork or beef, and plenty fatty, and yet they're small enough that their impact doesn't overstay its welcome.

I think they're delicious.

They're also incredibly easy to cook. To make this recipe, I just rubbed my ribs—technically the cut I used was lamb breast, but it's essentially a side of ribs—with a simple dry rub that included smoked paprika, red chili flakes, cumin, coriander, fennel, and some sugar, salt and pepper.

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Because they're fatty and full of connective tissue, lamb ribs need to be cooked long enough to tenderize, just like pork or beef ribs. For these ribs, I started them in a low 300°F oven for an hour, to warm them up and start melting the fat, then increased the heat to 375°F for the second hour to finish them off and give them a sizzling browned exterior.

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While the ribs rested, I quickly deglazed the roasting pan with some chicken stock, stirred in whole grain mustard and butter and called it dinner.

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My creation was good enough that I developed a momentary god complex. But then I had such a hard time getting a good photo with one hand while pouring the sauce with the other that I realized I was just another bumbling mammal after all.